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Barr v. Pearson

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

December 13, 2017

TIMOTHY BARR, Plaintiff,
REBECCA PEARSON, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Timothy Barr, currently an inmate at the Jefferson City Correctional Center (“JCCC”), brought this action pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his constitutional rights were violated during his incarceration at Southeast Correctional Center (“SECC”). This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 70.) For the following reasons, the Court will grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.

         I. Background

         In his Amended Complaint, Barr seeks monetary and declaratory relief against the following SECC and/or Corizon, Inc. employees in both their official and individual capacities: Nurse Rebecca Pearson, [1] Nurse Dana Degens, Nurse Brandi Juden, Nurse David Helman, J. Cofield (Director of Operations), Dr. Mina Massey (Medical Director), Dr. G. Babich, Dr. Kimberly Birch, and Nurse Practitioner Nina Hill. (Doc. 34.) Barr alleges that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs at SECC following a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (“MS”). Specifically, Barr contends that Defendants intentionally delayed treatment, failed to provide necessary medical treatment, and improperly administered prescribed medication. Id. at 9. As a result, Barr contends that he has suffered harmful side effects and symptoms, including confinement in a wheelchair. Id.

         In their Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants argue that there are no genuine issues of material fact, and they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law, because Barr's allegations of deliberate indifference are unsupported. Barr has filed a Response in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 83), and Defendants have filed a Reply (Doc. 86).

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), a district court may grant a motion for summary judgment if all of the information before the court demonstrates that “there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The burden is on the moving party. City of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa v. Associated Elec. Co-op. Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273 (8th Cir. 1988). After the moving party discharges this burden, the nonmoving party must do more than show that there is some doubt as to the facts. Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact is not the “mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties.” State Auto. Ins. Co. v. Lawrence, 358 F.3d 982, 985 (8th Cir. 2004). “Instead, the dispute must be outcome determinative under prevailing law.” Mosley v. City of Northwoods, 415 F.3d 908, 910-11 (8th Cir. 2005) (internal quotations omitted). A fact is material when it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Barr's status as a pro se prisoner does not excuse him from responding to Defendants' Motion “with specific factual support for his claims to avoid summary judgment, ” or from complying with local rules. Beck v. Skon, 253 F.3d 330, 333 (8th Cir. 2001).

         III. Facts[2]

         Barr was at all times relevant to his Complaint incarcerated within the Missouri Department of Corrections (“MDOC”) at SECC. Corizon, LLC (“Corizon”), the employer of the named Defendants, was under contract with the State of Missouri to provide medical care and treatment to offenders incarcerated within the MDOC.

         On May 21, 2014, Barr was diagnosed with having MS by Dr. Sudhir Batchu, pursuant to Dr. Batchu's assessment and review of an MRI. Dr. Batchu recommended that Barr start Avonex, be given Aleve with the onset of side effects typically caused by Avonex, and follow-up with Dr. Batchu in three months. Dr. Batchu gave Barr an information packet that consisted of informational paperwork, a USB drive, and a pen. Defendants describe the pen as an ink pen containing an advertisement on the outside of the pen. Barr contends the pen was not an ink pen but was an “Avonex pen, ” containing a dosage of the drug. Defendants state that the informational paperwork was returned to Barr, but the remaining items were not returned as Barr was not allowed to have the items within the facility. Barr argues that all of the items were taken and thrown away by Rebecca Pearson.

         On May 22, 2014, Defendant Massey placed a request to allow Barr to see Dr. Batchu for a follow-up appointment in three months, which was approved by the Regional Medical Director on May 23, 2014. On May 27, 2014, Defendant Massey prescribed Avonex for Plaintiff pursuant to Dr. Batchu's recommendation. Barr was given injections of Avonex by nurses at SECC, including Defendants Degens and Helman, on the following dates: June 11, 2014, June 18, 2014, July 2, 2014, July 9, 2014, July 23, 2014, and July 30, 2014. Avonex injections were administered on additional dates by Corizon nurses not named as defendants in this matter. Defendants state that the injections were administered in Barr's right or left deltoid, whereas Barr disputes this fact, and claims that the injections were administered to his biceps.

         Defendant Hill met with Barr on October 10, 2014, to provide Barr with additional information regarding Avonex injection treatment and MS. Barr reported experiencing side effects, including facial numbness, on this date. He did not receive any further Avonex injections at SECC after October 10, 2014.

         IV. Discussion

         “Deliberate indifference” to a prisoner's serious illness or injury constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976); Gregoire v. Class, 236 F.3d 413, 417 (8th Cir. 2000) (“It is well established that the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment extends to protect prisoners from deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.”). “Deliberate indifference has both an objective and a subjective component.” Butler v. Fletcher, 465 F.3d 340, 345 (8th Cir. 2006). The objective component requires a plaintiff to demonstrate an objectively serious medical need. Grayson v. Ross, 454 F.3d 802, 808-09 (8th Cir. 2006); Moore v. Jackson, 123 F.3d 1082, 1086 (8th Cir. 1997), which is one ‚Äúthat either has been diagnosed by a physician as requiring ...

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