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Garcia v. Richards

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

March 25, 2019

ERICK GARCIA, Plaintiff,
v.
TODD RICHARDS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RONNIE L. WHITE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on review of plaintiff Erick Garcia's amended complaint (Docket No. 9) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. For the reasons discussed below, plaintiff will be directed to file a second amended complaint.

         Background

         Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at the Northeast Correctional Center (NECC) in Bowling Green, Missouri. He filed his original complaint on June 8, 2018, naming Doctors Todd Richards, John Pope, Unknown Cook, and Unknown Penyugua as defendants. (Docket No. 1 at 1). Defendants Richards and Pope were on the medical staff at "Cameron Correctional." Defendant Pope was a physician at Capital Region Physicians. Finally, defendant Penyugua was on the medical staff at NECC.

         In the original complaint, plaintiff alleged that during the course of his incarceration, he was subjected to a "system of deliberate [indifference]" with regard to a chronic condition in his right shoulder. (Docket No. 1 at 4; Docket No. 1-1 at 2). Plaintiff stated that he had been misdiagnosed and allowed to endure pain while receiving treatment that medical staff knew was not helping. (Docket No. 1 at 4).

         Specifically, plaintiff alleged that Dr. Richards "disregarded the fact" that NSAID and steroid injections were ineffective. Furthermore, Dr. Richards, along with Dr. Pope, Dr. Cook, and Dr. Penyugua continued to provide treatment they knew was ineffective. Plaintiff asserted that this constituted "cruel and unusual punishment" because the defendants knew about his "pain and did not provide care to address it." As a result, he suffered continued deterioration of his muscles, leading to years of constant pain and a "progressively worse injury."

         On September 26, 2018, plaintiff filed a document with the Court construed as a motion to amend. (Docket No. 6). In the motion, plaintiff stated that his claim was "improperly filed" and that the inmate helping him fill out paperwork did so improperly. The motion was granted and plaintiff was given thirty days to file an amended complaint on a Court-provided form. Plaintiff duly complied with this order and filed an amended complaint on November 13, 2018. (Docket No. 9).

         The Amended Complaint

         Plaintiffs amended complaint names the Missouri Department of Corrections as the sole defendant. (Docket No. 9 at 1). He states that in 2013, he discovered that he had a spur and arthritis in his right shoulder. (Docket No. 9 at 5). This was revealed by an x-ray performed at South Central Correctional Center in Licking, Missouri. After the x-ray, plaintiff states that the pain became worse. He underwent a CT scan that showed he had a torn labrum. Plaintiff states that he has been filing health service requests for the past five years. He also states that his "doctors in D.O.C." have requested that he see an orthopedist, but such requests have been denied. Plaintiff claims that his pain has continued to worsen and he is experiencing decreased range of motion and muscle atrophy.

         Plaintiff seeks $1, 500 a day for pain and suffering until this matter is settled. (Docket No. 9 at 6). He is also requesting $250, 000 in punitive damages, and corrective surgery on his right shoulder.

         Discussion

         In his amended complaint, plaintiff alleges that defendant Missouri Department of Corrections violated his Eight Amendment right to medical care by failing to properly treat his right shoulder.

         The government has an obligation to provide medical care to those whom it is punishing by incarceration. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103 (1976). To demonstrate constitutionally inadequate medical care, the inmate must show that a prison official's conduct amounted to deliberate indifference. Dulany v. Camahan, 132 F.3d 1234, 1237-38 (8th Cir. 1997).

         Proving deliberate indifference requires a showing that a "medical provider knew of and disregarded a serious medical need." Phillips v. Jasper Cty. Jail,437 F.3d 791, 795 (8th Cir. 2006). "A serious medical need is one that has been diagnosed by a physician as requiring treatment, or one that is so obvious that even a layperson would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention." Coleman v. Rahija, 114 F.3d 778, 784 (8th Cir. 1997). Deliberate indifference can include the intentional denial or delay of access to medical care, ...


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