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Mines v. Levi

March 26, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Slomsky, J.


Before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Troy Levi, Warden at the Federal Detection Center in Philadelphia ("FDC"), Tracey Brown, Associate Warden of operations at the FDC and Aramis Martinez, head of the medical department at the FDC ("Defendants"). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.


A. Plaintiff's Knee Injury and Subsequent Medical Treatment

On September 9, 2006, Plaintiff Rasheen Mines ("Plaintiff"), while a prisoner at the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia ("FDC"), slipped on a ladder while descending from the upper part of a bunk bed and injured his right knee. (Compl. at p. 4.) Plaintiff contends that Defendants ignored his requests for proper medical attention and that as a result of such conduct, his knee is permanently damaged. (Id.)

Immediately after his injury, Plaintiff requested that his housing unit officer call the medical unit and inform them of his fall. (Plaintiff Dep. Dec. 3, 2008, Docket No. 30, at 34: 22.) Later that evening, Plaintiff told the new unit officer on duty that he had slipped off his bunk, twisted his knee, was in pain and needed medical attention. (Id. at 38:13-15.) The officer told Plaintiff that medical personnel would see him in the morning. (Id. at 39:15.) Plaintiff did not notify the medical staff of his knee pain by following the FDC procedure of filing a written sick call request form.

The following morning, Plaintiff informed another unit officer that his knee was in pain and requested to see medical personnel. (Id. at 42:17.) Later that afternoon, when Plaintiff complained that he had not been seen by medical personnel, he was instructed by the unit officer to follow the procedure of filling out a sick call request. (Id. at 46:5-8.) Plaintiff finally filled out the sick call request form two days after his fall, even though he had forms in his cell. (Id. at 46:9-13.) He then relied on his cellmate to submit the request to the medical department. (Id. at 47:7-15.) The next day, Plaintiff informed his current unit manager, Middles, that he had been in bed for three days and needed medical attention. (Id. at 49:22-50:2.) Shortly thereafter, Nurse Pina, along with a second nurse, came to Plaintiff's cell to examine his knee.*fn1 (Id. at 48:13-14.) According to the medical records, on September 12, 2006, Plaintiff was evaluated by a doctor, prescribed Motrin and recommended for an x-ray with a follow-up exam. The medical records also indicate that Plaintiff was prescribed ibuprofen on September 14, 2006. (Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 18) at p. 31.) Plaintiff admits that he did receive this medication.*fn2 (Docket No. 30 at 82:4-9).

On September 18, 2006, in accordance with the medical staff's recommendations, Plaintiff was given an x-ray of his right knee.*fn3 (Docket No.18 at 29; see also Docket No. 30 at 56:22-24.) The x-ray showed no damage from the accident. It did show the early onset of a degenerative disease. (Docket No.18 at 29.)

After receiving medication and learning that his x-ray was negative, Plaintiff continued to assert that he was not receiving medical treatment. He placed additional sick calls requesting pain medication.*fn4 (Docket No. 30 at 57:5-7.) Plaintiff claims that it was about a week from the time of the injury until he was able to walk. (Docket No. 30 at 57:10-12.) Plaintiff asserts that he finally got out of bed on a Saturday or Sunday, about five to seven days after he fell. (Id. at 62:23-24.)

On or about that following Tuesday, September 19, 2006, Plaintiff confronted Defendant Martinez, the head of the FDC medical department, about his knee pain. (Id. at 63:4-10.) At an open house, where all department heads gather to hear various complaints including health issues, Plaintiff showed his injured knee to Defendant Martinez and Defendant Brown, the Associate Warden.

Plaintiff claimed he could barely walk. (Id. at 67:8-10.) Plaintiff informed Defendant Martinez that he had received an x-ray, but that he was given no medication for his pain. (Id. at 63:13-16.) According to Plaintiff, Defendant Martinez responded that his staff was receiving daily sick call requests from Plaintiff and that making these frequent requests did not increase his chance of being reevaluated sooner. (Id. at 63: 18-22.) Defendant Brown, upon seeing Plaintiff's knee, stated that she deferred to Defendant Martinez's judgment. (Id. at 66:5-67:14).

Around this time, on September 26, 2006, medical personnel evaluated Plaintiff in response to another sick call request he filed. He informed the nurse on duty that his knee would not bend and that he had to drag it in order to move around. (Docket No. 19 at 2.) According to Plaintiff, the nurse informed him she could do nothing further except provide a knee brace, which he claims he never received. Id. at 2. The medical report from September 26, 2006 indicates that Plaintiff reported a pain level of five on a scale of ten, had full range of motion in his knee, was diagnosed with a knee sprain and prescribed ice and over-the-counter medicine. (Docket No. 18 at 32.)

Medical records establish on December 18, 2006 that medical personnel again assessed Plaintiff's knee pain. ( Id.) It was noted that Plaintiff could walk without difficulty. He was given another prescription for joint pain and prescribed a follow-up examination as needed. (Id.)*fn5

Finally, according to Plaintiff's sick call request dated March 26, 2007, Plaintiff complained he had a stiff knee and disclosed that he was currently taking medicine. (Record and Receipt Log Book 12/1/06-6/25/07 (Docket No. 21) at 136.) Records indicate that in response to Plaintiff's March 26, 2007 request, Plaintiff was scheduled for an April 2, 2007 appointment with the medical unit. (Docket No. 21 at 136.)

B. Plaintiff's Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

In order to comply with the administrative appeal process, on or about October 20, 2006, Plaintiff filed a Request for Administrative Remedy (No. 430947-F1) seeking a lower bunk because his right knee was injured. (Docket No. 18 at 27.) On November 22, 2006, Defendant Levi, the Warden at the FDC, denied Plaintiff's request because the medical staff had already assessed and treated Plaintiff's injury. (Id. at 27.) In accordance with procedures set forth in 28 C.F.R. § 542.10, Plaintiff then filed a Regional Administrative Remedy Appeal (No. 430947-R1), or BP10, on or around December 14, 2006, alleging that he still had not received adequate care for his right knee. (Id. at 28.) On January 12, 2007, the Northeast Regional Office denied Plaintiff's appeal finding that FDC medical staff had adequately evaluated Plaintiff and taken an x-ray of his right knee. Plaintiff, however, did not receive notice of the denial of this appeal until February 13, 2007. (Id. at 28.) There is no record of a BP11 appeal-- the final step in the appeals process-- filed by, or on behalf of, Plaintiff in response to the January 12, 2007 denial by the Northeast Regional Office. (Id. at 26.)

Prior to receiving his denial from the Northeast Regional Office, Plaintiff prematurely filed, on or around January 30, 2007, a BP11 form with the Office of General Counsel. (Id. at 22: 3-10.) Because Plaintiff had not yet received notice that the Northeast Regional Office had denied his BP10, he did not include this denial number on his BP11 Form. The Office of General Counsel denied Plaintiff's BP11 ...

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