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Brito v. United States Dep't of Justice

March 15, 2010

RAMON BRITO, PLAINTIFF
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, MICHAEL MUKASEY, ATTORNEY GENERAL; HARLEY G. LAPPIN, DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF PRISONS; JERRY MARTINEZ, WARDEN; P.A. BRADY AND AHSA POTOPE, ALLENWOOD MEDICAL STAFF, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Munley

MEMORANDUM

Before the court for disposition is the defendants' motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment in this prisoner civil rights case involving medical treatment. The matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.

Background

Plaintiff Ramon Brito (hereinafter "plaintiff") is a federal prisoner who is incarcerated at the Allenwood Low Security Correctional Institution, in White Deer, Pennsylvania. ("LSCI Allenwood") (Doc. 1, Complaint, at 1). In the beginning of September 2006, plaintiff injured his left hand pinky finger. (Id. at 3). Brito reported to the prison's Health Services on September 5, 2006 for treatment of the injury. (Doc. 16-4, Declaration of James Potope at ¶ 3 and Attachment 1, thereto, Chronological Record of Medical Care). Health Services ordered an x-ray of the finger and provided plaintiff with pain medication. (Id.) The x-ray was taken the next day and revealed a fracture of the plaintiff's finger. (Id.) The medical staff splinted and wrapped the finger for immobilization. They instructed plaintiff to avoid overuse of it and to keep the finger immobile. (Id.) They also provided plaintiff with more pain medication and ordered a follow-up x-ray to be performed in four (4) weeks. (Id.)

A follow-up visit to Health Services occurred on October 3, 2006. (Id. at ¶ 4). Examination revealed that plaintiff had intact range of motion (hereinafter "ROM") and sensation in his fingers. He also had mild swelling and good capillary refill. (Id.) A follow-up x-ray was performed that day, which revealed "normal mineralization" and "osseous structures intact." (Id. at ¶ 4 and Attachment 3 thereto, Omnimed Medical Services Memorandum). Health Services directed plaintiff to follow-up if he had increased pain, to continue wearing his splint, to avoid further trauma and to continue his pain medication as needed. (Id.) They also indicated that a follow-up x-ray would be scheduled. (Id.)

A follow-up examination and instruction on ROM exercises occurred on October 12, 2006. The ROM exercises were meant to prevent the finger from becoming stiff. (Id. at ¶ 5 and Attachment 4, thereto, Chronological Record of Medical Care). Plaintiff requested an extension of his work convalesce, which was granted on October 19, 2006. (Id.)

Health Services saw plaintiff again on October 25, 2006. He admitted that he was not performing his ROM exercises. He was informed that he must do the exercises to avoid complications. (Id. at ¶ 6, Attachment 5, thereto, Chronological Record of Medical Care).

Another x-ray was performed on plaintiff's hand on November 1, 2006. The x-ray showed that the fracture, although still present, was healing. (Id. at ¶ 7). Plaintiff again indicated that he was not doing his ROM exercises and was reminded again of the importance of the exercises to avoid complications. (Id.)

During subsequent visits to Health Services, plaintiff repeatedly admitted that he was not doing the ROM exercises. (Id. at ¶¶ 9-13, 15). These visits occurred on November 15, 22 and 29, 2006; December 6 and 22, 2006 and January 4, and 26, 2007. Plaintiff was repeatedly reminded of the importance of the exercises. (Id.)

The pinky finger began to develop "retraction" due to the failure to perform the exercises. (Id. at ¶¶ 11-13). Over the course of the next several months, during multiple visits to Health Services for treatment of the finger the situation remained the same. Plaintiff admitted to not doing his ROM exercises, he was reminded of the importance of the exercises and his injured finger continued to develop retraction. (Id. at ¶¶ 15 - 18).

In April 2007 and June 2007, plaintiff was seen by two different orthopedic specialists. In April, Dr. Thomas F. Dominick examined him and in June, Dr. David J. Ball examined him. (Id. at ¶¶ 19 - 20). These specialists indicated that plaintiff had been non-compliant with his ROM exercises that led to contracture in his finger. (Id.).

Based upon the medical treatment he received for his finger, plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit alleging a violation of his constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment*fn1 in that the defendants exhibited deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. He claims that the prison inadequately treated his finger, causing him permanent damage.

He seeks monetary damages of two million dollars. (Doc. 1, Complaint at 7).

In response to the complaint, the defendants have moved to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. The parties have briefed their ...


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