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Norris v. Lynch

March 18, 2009

LEON NORRIS, PLAINTIFF
v.
CATHERINE LYNCH, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Rambo

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff Leon Norris ("Norris"), an inmate currently confined at the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Dix, New Jersey ("FCI-Fort Dix"), commenced this action pro se by filing a civil rights complaint pursuant to the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1.) Norris names the following Defendants: the County of Lycoming; David Desmond, Warden of Lycoming County Prison in Williamsport, Pennsylvania ("LCP"); Catherine Lynch, a nurse employed by LCP; Medical Staff Member Doe, a nurse employed by LCP, (collectively, "LCP Defendants"); and William Keenan, M.D., a physician employed by LCP. Norris alleges that all Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs while he was incarcerated at LCP.

Before the court is a motion to dismiss Norris' complaint, or in the alternative, for summary judgment, filed on behalf of Defendant Dr. Keenan. For the reasons set forth below, the motion for summary judgment will be granted.

I. Background

Norris was incarcerated at LCP between January 2005 and June 2005 while he was awaiting a hearing on federal charges.*fn1 (Doc. 1 ¶ 9; Doc. 31 ¶ 2.) Norris suffers from Crohn's disease. (Doc. 1 ¶ 9.) In March 2005, Norris began to experience some initial signs that his Crohn's disease was recurring. (Id. ¶ 10; Doc. 30 at 2.) On March 24, 2005, an LCP medical staff member prescribed Metamucil. (Doc. 1 ¶ 11; Doc. 30-3 at 2.) That staff member also made a notation on Norris' medical chart that, if Norris' condition did not improve, a consultation with a gastrointestinal specialist should be considered. (Doc. 30-4 at 3.) Further, the staff member noted that a colonoscopy performed on March 11, 2002 revealed a tiny polyp in Norris' small bowel. (Id.)

On April 4, 2005, a medical staff member made a notation on Norris' chart that, although his symptoms continued, the Metamucil was providing some relief. (Id. at 4.) The staff member also recommended referring Norris to a gastrointestinal specialist for evaluation. (Id.) Norris was subsequently evaluated by Susquehanna Gastrointestinal Specialists on April 20, 2005. (Id.)

Norris also had a small bowel radiographic series performed at Williamsport Hospital on April 24, 2005. (Doc. 30-6 at 1.) The results of that small bowel series showed no pathologic abnormality. (Id.)

On April 25, 2005, prison medical staff diagnosed Norris with folliculitis. (Doc. 30-4 at 5; Doc. 31 ¶ 9.) On May 9, 2005, Norris complained of a sore throat, ear ache, sinus drainage. (Doc. 30-4 at 5; Doc. 31 ¶ 10.) As a result, medical staff diagnosed Norris with sinusitis, pharyngitis, sinus congestion, and mouth ulcers. (Doc. 1 ¶ 15; Doc. 30-4 at 5; Doc. 31 ¶ 10.)

On May 15, 2005, Norris was examined by a medical staff member who noted that he exhibited the following symptoms: fever, dizziness, chills, and canker sores in his mouth that were "no better." (Doc. 1 ¶16; Doc. 30-4 at 6; Doc. 31 ¶ 11.) The staff member also noted that Norris had lost sixteen pounds in two weeks, and should be seen by an "MD." (Id.)

At 8:00 a.m. on May 17, 2005, Norris was seen by medical staff and complained of painful canker sores in his mouth that prevented him from taking his medications. (Doc. 30-4 at 6, 7; Doc. 31 ¶ 12.) Norris also requested that he be admitted to the hospital. (Doc. 30-4 at 7.) The staff member noted that Norris had previously had an appointment with a gastrointestinal specialist, but that the results of any tests had not yet been received. (Doc. 30-4 at 6.)

Later that day, a staff member examined Norris again and noted that Norris still had chills, severe pain, canker sores, unusual weight loss, and was unable to eat, drink or take his medication. (Id. at 7.) That staff member also paged a Dr. Schlict, who, after reviewing Norris' symptoms, ordered that Norris be seen in the Williamsport Hospital emergency room for evaluation immediately. (Id.; Doc. 31 ¶ 14.)

Norris was admitted to the Williamsport Hospital emergency room at 6:58 p.m. on May 17, 2005, with complaints of chills, canker sores, weight loss, nausea, minor abdominal pain due to bowel problems, anxiety, and sinus and nose problems. (Doc. 30-5 at 4.) An emergency room physician examined Norris, blood tests were administered, and Norris received intravenous fluids and nutrients. (Id. at 5.) He was discharged from the emergency room at 11:35 p.m. in stable condition and in no distress, with a prescription for "magic mouthwash." (Id.) No other discharge orders were given. (Doc. 1 ¶ 28; Doc. 30-4 at 7; Doc. 31 ¶ 19.)

On May 18, 2005, upon Norris' return from the emergency room, an LCP medical staff member contacted Dr. Keenan to inform him of Norris' condition; that he had been seen at the emergency room the previous evening; and that he had been prescribed "magic mouthwash" to treat his mouth ulcers. (Doc. 30-4 at 7; Doc. 31 ¶ 20.) Dr. Keenan then discontinued the emergency room order for "magic mouthwash" because it was not available at LCP, and started Norris on Colchicine and Carafate to treat the mouth ulcers . (Doc. 30-4 at 7; Doc. 31 ¶ 21.)

On May 19, 2005, Dr. Keenan examined Norris at LCP. (Doc. 30-4 at 8; Doc. 31 ¶ 22.) Dr. Keenan noted several scattered mouth ulcers which he diagnosed as giant aphthous ulcers. (Doc. 30-4 at 8; Doc. 31 ¶ 23.) Dr. Keenan also instructed Norris to continue treating with the Colchicine and Carafate for two weeks. (Doc. 30-4 at 8; Doc. 31 ¶ 24.) He indicated that he would re-examine Norris at the end of those two weeks. (Id.)

On May 20, 3005, an LCP medical staff member contacted Dr. Keenan with information from Norris that he had been told that he needed a follow-up appointment with a gastroenterologist. (Doc. 30-4 at 8; Doc. 31 ¶ 26.) The staff member did not inform Dr. Keenan that Norris had complained of bowel problems that day. (Doc. 31 ¶ 26.) Dr. Keenan told the staff member that Norris did not need a follow-up appointment at that time. (Doc. 30-4 at 8; Doc. 31 ¶ 28.) However, Dr. Keenan was aware that Norris had been seen previously by a gastroenterologist and that the test results showed no abnormalities. (Id. ¶ 28.) In addition, Dr. Keenan ...


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