United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. ROSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment. (Doc. No. 28) The motion is fully briefed
and ready for disposition.
Gary Williams (“Plaintiff”) brings this action
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Ruth Lewis
(“Lewis”), Phyllis Berkley
(“Berkley”), and Dimitri Davis
(“Davis”) in their individual and official
capacities, and Corizon, LLC (“Corizon”). At all
relevant times, Lewis, Berkley and Davis were nurses at the
St. Louis City Criminal Justice Center (“CJC”)
and employed by Corizon. Plaintiff's action was
originally filed in the Circuit Court of the City of St.
Louis, Missouri on January 14, 2016 and removed to this Court
on February 25, 2016. (Doc. No. 1) Plaintiff alleges Nurses
Lewis, Berkley, and Davis were deliberately indifferent to
his serious medical needs while he was confined at CJC.
Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that despite being informed
of his seizure disorder, Lewis delayed dispensing his
anti-seizure medication, and Berkley and Davis ignored his
complaints of an impending seizure and refused to give him
his medication. As a result, Plaintiff suffered a seizure and
fell from the second floor of the CJC housing unit,
fracturing his skull. Plaintiff further alleges that Corizon
refused to provide him with his medical records in violation
of R.S. Mo. § 191.227.1, thereby impairing his ability
to properly evaluate his medical treatment while under
Corizon's care, custody and control. (See
Complaint (“Compl.”), Doc. No. 2) Defendants move
for summary judgment on the ground that Plaintiff cannot
demonstrate they were deliberately indifferent to his serious
judgment is appropriate when no genuine issue of material
fact exists in the case and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. See Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The initial burden
is placed on the moving party. City of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
v. Associated Elec. Co-op., Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273 (8th
Cir. 1988). If the record demonstrates that no genuine issue
of fact is in dispute, the burden then shifts to the
non-moving party, who must set forth affirmative evidence and
specific facts showing a genuine dispute on that issue.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249
(1986). In determining whether summary judgment is
appropriate in a particular case, the evidence must be viewed
in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Osborn v. E.F. Hutton & Co., Inc., 853 F.2d 616,
619 (8th Cir. 1988). Self-serving, conclusory statements
without support are not sufficient to defeat summary
judgment. Armour & Co., Inc. v. Inver Grove
Heights, 2 F.3d 276, 279 (8th Cir. 1993).
2, 2012, at or about 8:54 p.m., Plaintiff was transferred
from the Jennings Municipal Jail to CJC for confinement.
Lewis was working as the medical intake screening nurse on
the midnight shift, from 11:00 p.m., July 2, 2012 to 7:00
a.m., July 3, 2012. At or about 12:26 a.m. on July 3, 2012,
Lewis conducted a medical intake screening of Plaintiff to
determine his fitness for confinement. For safety and
security measures, the intake nurse takes possession of any
prescription medications included with an inmate's
personal items. If the prescription medication is found to be
medically necessary, a physician with CJC will order it
replaced with the same or similar medication from CJC's
pharmacy. Among Plaintiff's personal items were 1, 000
milligram tablets of an anti-seizure medication known as
Keppra and prescribed by his private doctor to be taken twice
daily. Plaintiff has a history of seizures and has been
diagnosed with epilepsy. Lewis took possession of
Plaintiff's Keppra during the medical intake screening.
Lewis's normal practice to contact the on-call physician
near the end of her shift, between 6:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.,
to receive orders for replacement medications for newly
processed inmates. Lewis would make an exception to this
practice if she determined, based on her nursing experience
and judgment, that an inmate had an immediate need for
medication at that time. According to Plaintiff, he began
shaking and sweating profusely during the intake screening
and told Lewis he felt a seizure coming on. He asked Lewis
for Keppra, but she did not provide him with his medication.
Lewis disputes that Plaintiff exhibited any shaking,
fidgeting, nervousness or profuse sweating, and states that
had he complained to her about needing his medication, she
would have notified the on-call physician for further
instructions and made an entry to that effect in his medical
chart. Similarly, if Plaintiff had told her he was
experiencing the onset of a seizure, or exhibited symptoms of
an impending seizure, she would have notified the St. Louis
City Police Department to transport him to a local hospital,
and made an entry to that effect in his medical chart.
(Affidavit of Ruth Lewis (Lewis Aff.”), Doc. No. 30-7
at ¶¶ 22, 25-27) The Medical Intake Screening Form
does not indicate “sweating” or “tremors,
” and Plaintiff's affect, mood, speech and activity
was observed as appropriate. (Id. at 26-27) After
completing Plaintiff's intake screening, Lewis advised
CJC guards that Plaintiff had a history of
seizures. Nevertheless, Plaintiff was assigned to a
cell on the second tier.
end of her shift, at approximately 6:25 a.m., July 3, 2012,
Lewis advised Brenda Mallard, M.D., the on-call physician at
CJC that night, that Plaintiff had a personal prescription
for Keppra. Dr. Mallard replaced Plaintiff's prescription
with Keppra from CJC's pharmacy and ordered that he
receive 1, 000 milligrams twice daily, during the 8:00 a.m.
and 8:00 p.m. med-passes. It was acceptable practice at CJC
that inmates receive their medication within one hour before
and one hour after the scheduled time. Medical personnel
dispensed the replacement-Keppra to Plaintiff at or about
8:00 a.m., July 3, 2012.
approximately 8:45 p.m. on July 3, 2012, Plaintiff suffered a
seizure as he exited his cell and fell from the second tier
to the floor below, injuring his head. At the time of
Plaintiff's fall, Berkley and Davis were working the
evening shift, from 3:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Berkley and Davis
were summoned and responded to the scene of the fall and
treated Plaintiff. Plaintiff asserts that throughout the day,
Berkley and Davis ignored his complaints that his medical
condition was worsening and refused to give him his
medication. Berkley and Davis dispute any interaction with
Plaintiff prior to his fall. Plaintiff was subsequently
transferred to Saint Louis University Hospital for treatment.
Since the fall, Plaintiff claims he has experienced frequent
seizures, headaches, and neck and back pain.
Official capacity claim
sues Lewis, Berkley and Davis in their individual and
official capacities. The official capacity claim against them
is treated as a claim against Corizon. See Johnson v.
Hamilton, 452 F.3d 967, 973 (8th Cir. 2006) (citing
Sanders v. Sears Roebuck & Co., 984 F.2d 972,
975-76 (8th Cir. 1993), and holding that to “support a
claim against” a private prison medical provider under
§ 1983, a prisoner “must show there was a policy,
custom, or official action that inflicted an actionable
injury”). Plaintiff does not allege that Lewis, Berkley
and Davis have authority to set policies, practices, or
customs on behalf of Corizon. Further, no evidence of record
demonstrates the alleged delay in providing Plaintiff with
anti-seizure medication was caused by a policy, practice, or
custom of Corizon, or of Corizon's state affiliate, the
Missouri Department of Corrections. Therefore, the official
capacity claims fail as a matter of law. See Hamilton v.
Grubbs, No. 4:14-CV-766-CEJ, 2017 WL 264511, at *3-4
(E.D. Mo. Jan. 20, 2017), appeal dismissed sub nom.
Hamilton v. Gremminger, No. 17-2781, 2017 WL 7668597
(8th Cir. Dec. 20, 2017).
Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment
extends to protect prisoners from deliberate indifference to
serious medical needs. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S.
97, 104 (1976); Davis v. Oregon Cnty., Mo., 607 F.3d
543, 548 (8th Cir. 2010). Deliberate indifference has both an
objective and a subjective component. Jackson v.
Buckman, 756 F.3d 1060, 1065 (8th Cir. 2014). The
objective component requires a plaintiff to demonstrate an
objectively serious medical need. Id. An objectively
serious medical need is one that either has been diagnosed by
a physician as requiring treatment, or is so obvious that
even a “ ‘layperson would easily ...