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Gearhart v. Sanders

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southern Division

December 1, 2014


Raymond Gearhart, Plaintiff, Pro se, Springfield, MO.

For Warden Linda Sanders, Dr. Shawn Rice, Dr. Elizabeth Weiner, John Does, Defendants: Christina L. Scofield, LEAD ATTORNEY, USMCFP, Springfield, MO; Cynthia J. Hyde, LEAD ATTORNEY, United States Attorney's Office-Spgfd, Springfield, MO.


DAVID P. RUSH, United States Magistrate Judge.

This matter has been referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Rule 72.1(e), for a report and recommendation on the pending Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Linda Sanders, Shawn Rice, and Elizabeth Weiner (Doc. 15). For the reasons set forth below it is RECOMMENDED that the motion be GRANTED and the case DISMISSED, and that all other pending motions be found MOOT.


Plaintiff Raymond Gearhart, an inmate in the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners (USMCFP), in Springfield, Missouri, is not a stranger to federal litigation. He has filed at least fifteen civil complaints and habeas petitions in the Western District of Missouri since 2005, alleging various violations of his constitutional rights at the hands of staff members at USMCFP.[1] On May 2, 2014, Gearhart filed a document that the Court construed as a civil rights complaint pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S.Ct. 1999, 29 L.Ed.2d 619 (1971). Gearhart made three claims: (1) the medications Bureau of Prisons' doctors forcibly give him to treat his mental illnesses are causing permanent physical problems; (2) he was denied due process in the 2005 hearing in which it was determined that he would be forcibly medicated; and (3) he was physically assaulted by unspecified medical staff on unit 10-A at USMCFP (Doc. 1).[2]

In lieu of an answer, on July 14, 2014, the defendants, Linda Sanders, Warden at USMCFP; Shawn Rice, M.D, Gearheart's treating psychiatrist at USMCFP; and Elizabeth Weiner, Ph.D., Gearhart's treating psychologist at USMCFP, filed a Motion for Summary Judgment requesting entry of judgment in their favor because (1) sovereign immunity bars claims against the defendants in their official capacities; (2) the defendants were not personally involved in the alleged constitutional violations; (3) the plaintiff has not demonstrated the violation of any of his constitutional rights; and (4) the defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. Defendants support their motion for summary judgment with affidavits of the defendants and exhibits thereto which include, among other things, medical and administrative records (Doc. 15).

Gearhart filed a response to the Motion for Summary Judgment in which he states that he has been deprived of constitutionally adequate medical care by being overmedicated, which has led or will lead to long-lasting injury. He argues that Warden Sanders is personally responsible for his unconstitutional treatment because she is aware of the violations, yet has turned a blind eye to them. He contends that Dr. Weiner is personally responsible for constitutional deprivations because she " has failed to provide him with an effective, intensive, and structured therapeutic program for his condition" (Doc. 26).

In his response, Gearhart agrees to " narrow the issues" in the case by setting aside " without prejudice" his claims regarding violations of due process at his initial forced medication hearing, and his claims of assault by medical staff.[3] Gearhart thus states that the only question before the Court concerns his " being forced to take powerful anti-psychotic drugs that cause significant injury to his person when those drugs are not even indicated for his primary condition." Gearhart argues that this issue is not a " mere disagreement" about the course of his medical treatment at the prison. He states, " Dr. Rice has an actual animus against Mr. Gearhart and is engaged in a practice of deliberately using forced antipsychotropic medications, not for legitimate treatment, but to render Mr. Gearhart more manageable within a correctional environment, and that Dr. Rice knows about but is indifferent to the harm these drugs are causing" (Doc. 26). Gearhart supports his response with his own affidavit which states,

I have been diagnosed as being Borderline Personality Disorder. I am not truly psychotic and sometimes have done things to make people think I am because I am afraid to leave prison. For 10 years I have been forced to take medications that are causing me harm. I have not wanted to take them because they make it harder for me to think right. They make me feel like I cannot walk at times. They make me hungry and make me sleep all the time. I weighed 180 pounds when I came in and now I weigh well over 300 pounds. My chest hurts sometimes and I have trouble breathing when I lie down or when I am sleeping. I would have been in state placement years ago had I not been forced to take the medicine. If I had a real treatment program like the one I am on now ten years ago I would have been better by now. I was just getting worse and worse over the years, and I have been misdiagnosed by Dr. Rice on purpose so that he can medicate me because I sometimes act out. I have made my complaints known to the warden and to everyone I can. I need help from the Court in order to get the right treatment because Dr. Rice and the Warden just want to punish me. Dr. Weiner is nice to me but she has not been able to get me a program. The program I am on now is a good one and it is really helping me get myself together, but Dr. Weiner, Dr. Rice and the Warden will not support it. Dr. Weiner told me on 7-9-2014 that it was better for me to be sedated and not doing a lot of activities. I know that I have a mental disorder. I know that I have Borderline Personality Disorder and that it requires intense programming and I do really well with programs when I am not being affected by the medication. I also know that I do need some medication and I have no objection to taking some but the dose of Invega is way too high for me. The records from medical show how much progress I have made since June 2014 when I started the Personality Program Manual with another inmate. I want to stay on the program and receive incentives to do so, and I want to get my medication reduced. I honestly believe I will do much better now if the doctors and administration will help me instead of hurting me. I do not see how in the world it would hurt to support me in my current programming and reduce the medication to a tolerable level. The pain and suffering and anxiety that this medication and not having a real program has caused me is a lot. I please ask the Court to help me as much as you can. I am also putting the medical papers with my statement to show that it is a good program that is really working for me. Thank you.

(Doc. 26-1.)

In reply, the Defendants reiterate that they are entitled to summary judgment because Gearhart has not demonstrated the existence of any genuine issues of material fact and defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law (Doc. 28).

Findings of Fact

The Court summarizes the essential facts as set forth by the Defendants in the Motion for Summary ...

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