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Harris v. Hill

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division

March 15, 2017

JIM HARRIS, JR., Plaintiff,
NINA HILL, Defendant.



         Before the Court are plaintiff's motions for preliminary injunctive relief. [Doc. #2 and #31] Defendant Nina Hill has filed a response to defendant's motion, and plaintiff has filed a reply in support of his motion. The issues have been fully briefed. Having reviewed the issues before this Court, plaintiff's motions for injunctive relief will be denied at this time.


         A. Plaintiff's Request for Relief

         Plaintiff, an inmate at Southeast Correctional Center (“SECC”), filed the instant lawsuit against Nina Hill, a nurse employed by Corizon, on April 14, 2016, alleging violations of his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his second amended complaint [Doc. #13] presently before the Court, plaintiff asserts that Nina Hill violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment when she demonstrated deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs from June of 2015 through January of 2016.

         In his motions for preliminary injunction [Doc. #2 and #31], filed on April 14, 2016 and March 9, 2017, plaintiff asserts that in June of 2015, Nurse Hill terminated his medical lay-in. Plaintiff's claims have changed over time. In his first motion [Doc. #2], plaintiff claimed that Nurse Hill terminated his lay-in and assigned him to the top walk and top bunk” despite his handicap, resulting in at least one fall. Plaintiff later clarified, through several filings in this matter, that Nurse Hill took away his medical lay-in to sleep in a bottom bunk despite his handicap and plaintiff sought to have his lay-ins for the bottom bunk and the lower walk reinstated.

         In his reply brief to defendant's motion to dismiss, plaintiff states, “Plaintiff concedes, his lay-in was not for bottom floor and that this was a typo error on behalf of the inmate who typed plaintiff's motion.” [Doc. #21, p.1] Accordingly, it appears that this matter merely revolves around whether plaintiff's medical lay-in for his bottom bunk has been terminated by Nurse Hill with deliberate indifference to plaintiff's serious medical needs.

         B. Plaintiff Medical Issues in the Pertinent Time Frame

         Both plaintiff and defendant have provided evidence to this Court to substantiate their claims supporting and refuting injunctive relief, respectively. Nurse Practitioner Nina Hill, who is currently employed by Corizon, LLC, the entity that provides medical care to inmates at SECC, has provided certain portions of plaintiff's medical records as an exhibit to her signed affidavit.

         Plaintiff, of course, has provided other portions of his medical records, as well as signed affidavits of prisoners also currently detained at SECC to testify to anecdotal evidence of plaintiff's alleged difficulties in traversing around the prison environment.[1]

         In his amended complaint, Mr. Harris complains that he suffered a gunshot wound to his shoulder in 1995, which he reports also injured his neck. Plaintiff claims, in fact, that the wound from the gun shot caused “loss of muscles to the right side of his body, and nerve damage to the right side, with muscle deterioration.”[2] Plaintiff alleges that he also suffers chronic arthritis and sciatic nerve damage. He also claims that he has suffered damage to his right hand causing him difficulty with its use. [See Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, Docket #13]

         After reviewing plaintiff, himself, on several different occasions as well as his medical records, Nurse Hill states in her affidavit that plaintiff's gunshot wound to his shoulder “did not cause any functional deficit to plaintiff's hands, arms or legs, or otherwise interfere with his ability to climb steps or climb into a top bunk.” [Aff. Of Nurse Prac. Nina Hill, p.2]

         Nurse Hill also states, “He does not have atrophy, paralysis or weakness of any of his extremities, either caused by nerve damage from a spinal cord injury or any other etiology.” Defendant Hill does report that plaintiff has some osteoarthritis in his knees and hips. However, Nurse Hill maintains that based on the medical records and her review of plaintiff, he has not required any assistive devices, and from January 1, 2014 until present, he has worked full-time as a gardener at the prison, and then as a janitor. [Aff., p.2] Moreover, he has not reported any “falls” to medical since January 1, 2014. According to Nurse Hill, plaintiff is able to climb steps, climb into a top bunk and these activities do not pose a risk for plaintiff. [Aff. Of Nurse Hill, p. 3]

         Nurse Hill unequivocally states in her affidavit that in June of 2015, “Mr. Harris did not have a lay-in for either a bottom bunk or a bottom floor when I evaluated him…I did not cancel or allow either of these lay-ins to expire in June of 2015 or at any other time. Based on my review of the medical records, Mr. Harris did not have either a bottom bunk or a ...

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