United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Blue, Pro Se Plaintiff.
P. Jones United States District Judge.
plaintiff, Joseph Blue, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se,
filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983, alleging that prison medical staff did not provide him
with appropriate care. Upon review of the Complaint, I
conclude that the action must be summarily dismissed.
24, 2018, during Friday recreation at Rustburg Correctional
Unit (“RCU”), Blue injured his ankle on the
basketball court. At the RCU medical unit, he was examined by
Nurse K. Smith, who issued an ice pack and pain medication.
He also underwent an X ray of his foot. On May 26, 2018,
still in pain, Blue filed an Emergency Grievance asking for
results from the X ray and additional treatment. In response,
an officer responded that Blue's circumstances did not
meet the definition of an emergency and stated: “Per
X-Ray results: no fractures, dislocations, or soft tissue
masses. Per Nurse Smith, continue ACE bandage, ice packs,
& Tylenol/ibuprofen. Follow up with nurse.” Compl.
7, ECF No. 1.
filed a second Emergency Grievance on May 29, 2018, asking
for an MRI. Five days after the injury, he could hardly walk
or put pressure on his foot. Nurse Smith found no emergency
You were notified that your xrays of your left foot, ankle,
and heel were all normal. Per Dr. Wang no further follow up
is ne[c]essary. According to [policy], incarcerated offenders
may not choose their own health care provider. You continue
to walk on your injured foot which will slow the healing
process. You have been told this several times.
Id. at 8. On June 1, 2018, Blue filed an Informal
Complaint, stating that an X ray would not allow proper
diagnosis of the nature of his ankle injury. He demanded an
MRI. Nurse Smith scheduled Blue for an appointment with Dr.
Wang. After examining Blue on June 13, 2018, Dr. Wang refused
to order an MRI, but stated his intention to order a
protective boot for Blue to wear.
Complaint, dated June 26, 2018, Blue contends that neither
Nurse Smith nor Dr. Wang has sufficient expertise about
orthopedic injuries. He asserts that by failing to order an
MRI or refer him to a specialist, they deprived him of
appropriate medical care. As compensation, he seeks one
million dollars in damages.
42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1), the court may dismiss a
prisoner's civil action concerning prison conditions
“if the court is satisfied that the action is
frivolous, malicious, [or] fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted.” A viable complaint must allege
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Giarratano v. Johnson,
521 F.3d 298, 302 (4th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks
and citation omitted). To state a cause of action under
§1983, a plaintiff must establish that he has been
deprived of rights guaranteed by the Constitution or laws of
the United States and that this deprivation resulted from
conduct committed by a person acting under color of state
law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
“deliberate indifference to an inmate's serious
medical needs constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under
the Eighth Amendment.” Jackson v. Lightsey,
775 F.3d 170, 178 (4th Cir. 2014). “[O]fficials evince
deliberate indifference by acting intentionally to delay or
deny the prisoner access to adequate medical care or by
ignoring an inmate's known serious medical needs.”
Sharpe v. S.C. Dep't of Corr., 621 Fed.Appx.
732, 733 (4th Cir. 2015) (unpublished). To prove deliberate
indifference, Blue must show that the defendant prison
official had “actual . . . knowledge of both the
inmate's serious medical condition and the excessive risk
posed by the official's [own] action or inaction.”
Jackson, 775 F.3d at 178. This component requires
proof of intent beyond mere negligence, errors in judgment,
inadvertent oversights, or disagreements between doctor and
patient about the prisoner's treatment plan. See
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105-06 (1976)
(“Medical malpractice does not become a constitutional
violation merely because the victim is a prisoner.”).
“Questions of medical judgment are not subject to
judicial review.” Russell v. Sheffer, 528 F.2d
318, 319 (4th Cir. 1975).
submissions do not indicate that anyone ignored his medical
needs. He began receiving medical care on the day he was
injured. Nurse Smith assessed his injury, provided an ice
pack, pain medication, and an ACE bandage. Blue's foot
and ankle were x-rayed. Dr. Wang reviewed the X ray results
and determined that the treatment provided was appropriate
for the time being. Three weeks after the injury, when
Blue's pain and walking difficulties continued, Nurse
Smith scheduled him to see Dr. Wang again. Dr. Wang made a
medical judgment that no MRI was necessary and instead,
ordered a protective boot. Thus, the record reflects that
Nurse Smith and Dr. Wang provided the medical care that they
believed appropriate, given their professional assessment of
Blue's condition, symptoms, and X-ray results.
Blue believes that he should have received different
diagnostic testing or should have been referred to a
specialist. At the most, Blue's allegations amount to
disagreements with the medical judgments made by the doctor
and nurse as to appropriate treatment and timing. Thus, I
find that Blue's allegations fail to state any
constitutional claim against the defendants. I will ...