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Anderson v. Armor Correctional Health Services

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

January 25, 2019




         William Lee Anderson, II, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action.[1] In his Complaint, Anderson asserted, inter alia, that the bones in his elbow were broken into small pieces when a weight dropped on his elbow and that prison officials subsequently failed to provide him with adequate medical care. In his Complaint, Anderson contends that Defendants violated the Eighth Amendment:[2]

Claim 1 Dr. Landauer acted with deliberate indifference to Anderson's serious medical needs when she failed to provide proper medical care for Anderson's broken elbow. (ECF 1-8, at 2.)
Claim 2 Dr. Luong acted with deliberate indifference to Anderson's serious medical needs when:
(a) she failed to provide appropriate pain medication for the pain associated with Anderson's ankle and elbow injuries (ECF 1-1, at 7); and,
(b) she failed to arrange for prompt surgery on Anderson's elbow (ECF No. 1, at 4).
Claim 3 Ms. Taylor acted with deliberate indifference when she failed to promptly schedule a surgery date for Anderson's elbow. (ECF No. 1-9, at 1.)
Claim 4 Armor Correctional Health Services violated Anderson's right under the Eighth Amendment by its policy of denying medical treatment, such as surgery, if the surgery is expensive. (ECF No. 1-8, at 1).

         The matter is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Armor Correctional Health Services ("Armor"), Dr. Diane Landauer ("Dr. Landauer"), Dr. Q. Luong ("Dr. Luong"), and Stacy Taylor ("Ms. Taylor") (collectively, "Defendants"). Anderson has not responded. The record reflects that Anderson did not suffer from a traumatic elbow injury. Rather, Anderson had chronic elbow and ankle pain for which he received significant medical treatment, including surgery. For the reasons that follow, the Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 55) will be GRANTED and the action will be DISMISSED.


         Summary judgment must be rendered "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). It is the responsibility of the party seeking summary judgment to inform the court of the basis for the motion, and to identify the parts of the record which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). "[W]here the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial on a dispositive issue, a summary judgment motion may properly be made in reliance solely on the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file." Id. at 324 (internal quotation marks omitted). When the motion is properly supported, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and, by citing affidavits or "'depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. (quoting former Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) and 56(e) (1986)).

         In support of their Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants have submitted: (1) Dr. Landauer's Declaration ("Landauer Decl.," ECF No. 56-11, at 1-13); (2) Dr. Luong's Declaration ("Luong Decl.," ECF No. 56-11, at 14-30); (3) Ms. Taylor's Declaration ("Taylor Decl.," ECF No. 56-11, at 31-35) and, a host of Anderson's medical records and other correspondence.[3]

         As Anderson failed to respond, Anderson fails to cite the Court to any evidence that he wishes the Court to consider in opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(3) (emphasizing that "[t]he court need consider only the cited materials" in deciding a motion for summary judgment). Anderson's complete failure to present any evidence to counter Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment permits the Court to rely solely on Defendants' submissions in deciding the Motion for Summary Judgment.[4] See Forsyth v. Ban, 19 F.3d 1527, 1537 (5th Cir. 1994) ("Rule 56 does not impose upon the district court a duty to sift through the record in search of evidence to support a party's opposition to summary judgment." (quoting Skotak v. Tenneco Resins, Inc., 953 F.2d 909, 915 & n.7 (5th Cir. 1992))).

         Accordingly, the following facts are established for the Motion for Summary Judgment. The Court draws all permissible inferences in favor of Anderson.


         A. Anderson's Medical Care at Augusta Correctional Center ("ACC")

         In 2014, Anderson was incarcerated in ACC. (Landauer Decl. ¶¶ 1-5.) On October 9, 2014, Dr. Landauer saw Anderson in conjunction with, inter alia, Anderson's complaints of elbow pain. (Id. ¶ 5.) Dr. Landauer "diagnosed [Anderson with] right elbow pain/tendonitis." (Id.) On October 16, 2014, Dr. Landauer saw Anderson in a follow-up appointment and administered a steroid injection with anesthetic to ease the discomfort in Anderson's elbow. (Id. ¶ 6.)

         Anderson was next seen for complaints of elbow pain on February 27, 2015. (Id. ¶ 7.) In the interval between the October 16, 2014 appointment and February 27, 2015, Anderson was seen "multiple times by members of the ACC medical staff for various complaints, none of which involved [Anderson's] elbow." (Id.) During the February 27, 2015 appointment, Anderson complained to the nursing staff that there was something wrong with his elbow and noted he had been having pain in the elbow for six months. (Id.) The nursing staff noted Anderson had a full range of motion in the elbow and referred him to the physician for a non-healing wound. (Id.)

         On March 5, 2015, Dr. Landauer evaluated Anderson's right elbow. (Id. ¶ 8.) At this encounter, Anderson "complained of chronic right elbow pain in addition to other constitutional and dental complaints." (Id.) Dr. Landauer found that Anderson's "right elbow was mildly warm with erythema and two small verrucous lesions. These findings were not present during [Dr. Landauer's] examination in October 2014." (Id.) Dr. Landauer diagnosed Anderson as "having chronic olecranon bursitis and scheduled for him to return to the medical clinic the following day for further treatment." (Id.)

         On March 6, 2015, Dr. Landauer saw Anderson to treat the lesions on his right elbow. (Id. ¶ 9.) Anderson "had a painful scab and 2 verrucous lesions on his right elbow. The area was cleaned using an appropriate antiseptic for the procedures and [Dr. Landauer] used a... scalpel to pierce the verrucous lesions." (Id.) Dr. Landauer diagnosed Anderson as suffering from "olecranon bursitis, verrucous lesions and painful scab on the right elbow." (Id.) Dr. Landauer instructed Anderson to employ "warm compresses twice daily, daily Bacitracin and Band-Aid dressing changes," and to follow up with an appointment in one week. (Id.)

         On March 13, 2015, Dr. Landauer again examined Anderson. (Id. ¶ 10.) Anderson's "right elbow was much improved and he was complaining of right anterior tibial pain. [Anderson] reported the remote history of a motorcycle accident in 2003 with multiple fractures..." (Id.) Dr. Landauer directed Anderson "to continue to apply A&D ointment two times a day for two weeks ... [and to] try stretching exercises, massage and gentle walking for the leg pain complaints and requested if a telemedicine consult could be arranged with the orthopedic department at Medical College of Virginia." (Id.)

         On March 18, 2015, Anderson appeared in the medical department with complaints of right elbow pain and infection. (Id. ¶ 11.) The nursing "evaluation revealed the right elbow was red, hot, tender to touch," and recommended review by a doctor. (Id.) Thereafter, Anderson was evaluated by David MacDonald, D.O. (Id.) Anderson complained of right elbow pain and drainage, decreased range of motion, and no fever or chills. (Id.) Dr. MacDonald found Anderson "to be in no apparent distress with right elbow erythema without drainage. Dr. MacDonald diagnosed cellulitis/bursitis and ordered an aerobic culture, an x-ray of the right elbow, Bactrim DS one pill twice a day for 10 days and a follow-up appointment the following week." (Id.)

         On March 19, 2015, Dr. Landauer examined Anderson for complaints of a rash on his hands, arms, face, and legs. (Id. ¶ 12.) Anderson had a red, tender, right elbow, "with erythema measuring 6cm x 6cm." (Id.) Dr. Landauer diagnosed Anderson with "recurrent right olecranon bursitis and a sulfa rash." (Id.) Dr. Landauer discontinued the Bactrim and prescribed an alternative medication. (Id.)

         On March 20, 2015, Dr. Landauer again examined Anderson. (Id. ¶ 13.) Dr. Landauer noted that Anderson's rash generally was receding. (Id.) Anderson's vital signs were normal. (Id.)

         "On March 23, 2015, the medical record reflects [Anderson] refused to [see] the doctor for right elbow follow-up. On March 24, 2015, there is a notation in the medical record that the x-ray of the right elbow previously ordered by Dr. MacDonald had been taken." (Id. ¶ 14.)

         On April 14, 2015, Anderson was seen for a routine chronic care nursing visit. (Id. ¶ 15.) Anderson said his elbow was painful to the touch. (Id.) The nursing evaluation did not reveal any swelling or redness of the elbow. (Id.)

         On April 17, 2015, Dr. Landauer evaluated Anderson for prescription renewals. (Id. ¶ 16.) Dr. Landauer noted Anderson's "right elbow was uncomfortable to palpation but without evidence of infection or drainage. [Dr. Landauer's] examination of the right elbow revealed no warmth or erythema, a healed scar, and minimal tenderness." (Id.) Dr. Landauer's "treatment plan was for [Anderson] to rub analgesic balm on the right elbow two times a day for 60 days by rubbing it in to the elbow, Baclofen 20mg to be taken by mouth twice daily for 180 days and an increase in Elavil to 50mg every evening for 180 days." (Id.)

         Anderson "next complained of elbow pain at a nurse sick call visit on May 28, 2015." (Id. ¶ 17.) At this nursing encounter, Anderson "complained of pain and [cracking] in the right elbow which in turn caused cramping in his right hand." (Id.) The nursing assessment confirmed the cracking and popping. (Id.) Anderson claimed he had a bone chip in his elbow and wanted it removed. (Id.) Anderson was referred to a physician for evaluation. (Id.)

         On June 10, 2015, at a routine chronic care visit follow-up for hepatitis C, Dr. MacDonald "also evaluated [Anderson] for right elbow pain which [Anderson] stated was worse when the elbow [was] extended." (Id. ¶ 18.) "Dr. MacDonald's examination of the right elbow demonstrated tenderness to palpation over the olecranon. Review of the previous x-rays revealed a questionable bone chip versus a calcium deposit that was only seen on the lateral view. Dr. MacDonald's assessment included hepatitis C virus, trigger finger and elbow pain." (Id.) Anderson "was advised of what exercises to avoid, was prescribed 400mg magnesium tablets, one daily for 90 days, and blood work was ordered." (Id.)

         At a June 30, 2015 nursing encounter, Anderson "stated his elbow was sore and cracked on range of motion." (Id. ¶ 19.) Anderson "was referred to the physician for evaluation and treatment of the elbow." (Id.)

         On July 6, 2015, Anderson showed up in the medical clinic "for re-evaluation of the right elbow and to get a renewal of a prescription for nasal spray." (Id. ¶ 20.) Anderson "left without being seen by the doctor stating that he did not want to see the doctor who was at ACC medical that day." (Id.) On July 8, 2015, Anderson returned to the medical department "for another nurse sick call evaluation regarding his right elbow. At this encounter [Anderson] claimed to be taking Elavil and Baclofen for his elbow and that those medications helped alleviate some of his elbow symptoms." (Id.) Anderson "reported his right elbow symptoms were becoming more constant and more severe, that he fractured his elbow in September 2014, that... his elbow got hot to touch every month, [and] that he stopped his magnesium supplement because it caused itching." (Id.) Anderson acknowledged that "upon stopping the magnesium the elbow would get stuck in the bent position and cause the middle and ring fingers on his hand not to work. The staff nurse scheduled [Anderson] to see the physician." (Id.)

On July 13, 2015, Dr. MacDonald examined Anderson. (Id. ¶ 21.) Anderson reported a history of the right elbow locking up, having to push the arm out to straighten the elbow and spasms in his hand. Dr. MacDonald's examination revealed that motor testing, grip testing, shoulder shrug/upper extremity muscle testing were not consistent. Dr. MacDonald also noted there was no tenderness to palpation in the ulnar gutter of the right elbow. Sensory testing was noted to be intact with locally subjective tenderness of the olecranon. Dr. MacDonald diagnosed chronic right elbow pain, prescribed analgesic balm and recommended follow-up as needed.


         On July 30, 2015, during the course of examining Anderson for complaints related to a cough, Dr. Landauer re-examined Anderson's "right elbow which revealed no warmth or erythema." (Id. ¶ 22.) Dr. Landauer noted that Anderson "was limiting his range of motion of the elbow stating that it clicked and hurt on full range of motion. [Dr. Landauer] diagnosed [Anderson] with right elbow pain with a history of past infection at the site ... [and] ordered a repeat x-ray series of the right elbow." (Id.) Anderson was instructed to follow-up in three weeks to consider a steroid injection or possible orthopedic referral. (Id.)

         On August 4, 2015, an x-ray series of Anderson's right elbow was completed. (Id. ¶ 23.) On August 20, 2015, Anderson reported to Dr. Landauer that "his right elbow continued to be stiff with occasional clicking or locking." (Id.) Dr. Landauer noted Anderson was using an elbow sleeve. (Id.) Dr. Landauer's examination revealed that Anderson was alert, in no acute distress, but his "right elbow was stiff with decreased range of motion and some crepitus and locking." (Id.) Dr. Landauer "did not find any evidence of erythema, warmth, purulence, or deformity of the elbow when conducting [her] examination." (Id.) Anderson's "clinical findings during examination were consistent with [Dr. Landauer's] clinical assessment and diagnosis of chronic right elbow pain, no evidence of infection, now does have clicking, decreased range of motion, stiffness, and radiographic evidence of a small chip versus calcification in the soft tissue only visible on lateral projection." (Id.) Dr. Landauer dispensed analgesic balm to Anderson to be applied to the elbow, "as opposed to administering an intraarticular steroid injection, in light of [her] clinical findings at this encounter." (Id.) Dr. Landauer also "commenced the process to obtain an orthopedic consultation." (Id.)

         On September 18, 2015, Dr. Landauer "examined Anderson for complaints of toenail fungus and sinus issues." (Id. ¶ 24.) Dr. Landauer also examined Anderson's right elbow which was in a neoprene brace and noted it had no erythema or warmth. (Id.) Dr. ...

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