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Perkins v. Scwappach

April 16, 2010

EMMITT PERKINS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CORRECTIONAL OFFICER SERGEANT SCWAPPACH, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM

I. Introduction

Plaintiff, Emmitt Perkins, a Pennsylvania state prisoner currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institute at Graterford ("Graterford"), filed this action for money damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution against Defendant Sergeant Jurgen Schwappach, a correctional officer at Graterford, alleging that Defendant Schwappach denied Plaintiff access to medical attention. Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 40). For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant Defendant's motion.

II. Background

A. Factual History*fn1

Plaintiff, Emmitt Perkins, is an inmate in the custody of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, and is incarcerated at Graterford. Plaintiff has been housed in Graterford's "B-Unit" (or "B-Block"), a general population unit, for over six years. Plaintiff has type II diabetes, and is insulin dependent. Plaintiff's prescribed medical treatment includes receiving two daily insulin shots in the prison dispensary: one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. (Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 4; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 4.) Plaintiff also has a 30-day refillable prescription for "Glipizide,"*fn2 a diabetes medication, of which Plaintiff is directed to take one 5mg tablet orally each day, preferably in the morning. (Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 6; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 6.)

On December 25, 2006, at approximately 6:30 a.m., Plaintiff went to the prison's medical dispensary to receive his morning insulin shot. (Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 7; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 7.) After receiving his shot, Plaintiff returned to B-Block to eat breakfast in the B-Block dining room. At approximately 7:45 a.m., Plaintiff began feeling ill and experiencing a loss of feeling in his arms and numbness in his fingertips. (Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 14; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 14.) Plaintiff also claims that he was feeling "nauseous" and "lightheaded," which "indicated to him that he needed to take his Glipizide medication." (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Mot. for SJ at 1.) Plaintiff thus sought to go to the prison's medication line to obtain his Glipizide medication. (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Mot. for SJ at 1.) Plaintiff went to the front door of B-Block, which leads to the main corridor of Graterford, and showed his blue dispensary pass to the corrections officer manning the door. (Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶¶ 19, 20; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶¶ 19, 20.) The corrections officer let Plaintiff exit.

At Graterford, an inmate who wants to go to the prison's dispensary must display both a white pass and a blue pass.*fn3 Defendant Schwappach observed Plaintiff show his blue dispensary pass but not a white pass, and assumed Plaintiff was heading to the dispensary.*fn4 Based on this assumption, Schwappach asked Plaintiff to produce his inmate ID and a white pass for his inspection. Plaintiff told Schwappach that he was a diabetic, was not feeling well, felt like he would pass out, and needed his Glipizide medication. (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Mot. for SJ at 2.) When Plaintiff produced his inmate ID but not a white pass, Schwappach told Plaintiff to return to B-Block to obtain a white pass. (Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 33; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 33.)

Both parties acknowledge that Schwappach did not perceive Plaintiff to be in any medical distress during their interaction. (Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 53; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 53.) At the time of his encounter with Schwappach, Plaintiff was not throwing up, his head was not in his hands, and he was not bent over in pain. (Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 54; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 54.) Sergeant Schwappach, like all corrections officers at Graterford, was not trained in medicine, did not know the medical history of each inmate, and did not have access to inmate medical records. (Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶¶ 51, 52; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶¶ 51, 52.)

After speaking with Schwappach, Plaintiff returned to his cell, and did not immediately ask the B-Block sergeant to give him a white pass. (Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 35; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 35.) At approximately 8:15 a.m. -- nearly thirty (30) minutes after Plaintiff first attempted to go to the medication line -- Plaintiff obtained a white pass, and proceeded by himself to the dispensary without incident. At the dispensary, Plaintiff did not receive his Glipizide medication because the prescription, which ran out a few days prior to December 25, 2006, had not yet been refilled.*fn5

Later that day, at approximately 4:00 p.m., Plaintiff returned to the dispensary for his afternoon insulin shot, and at that time, his blood sugar level was recorded as being relatively normal. (Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶¶ 42, 43; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶¶ 42, 43.) Nothing in Plaintiff's medical record indicates that he requested or obtained any emergency medical treatment between his morning and afternoon insulin shots. No medical personnel at Graterford told Plaintiff that he had suffered from diabetic shock. (Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 45; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 45.) Plaintiff's symptoms of blurred vision and numbness were only temporary, and Plaintiff cannot recall being in great physical pain as a result of the incident. (Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶¶ 55, 57; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶¶ 55, 57.)

Also on December 25, 2006, Plaintiff filed an inmate grievance in which he wrote that at approximately 7:45 a.m. that day, he had "attempt[ed] to go to the medication line to retrieve my medication. . . . I proceeded to get my med line medication when Sgt. Schwappach ordered me back to the Block claiming no meds when the B-Blk guard stated last call when I left the Block. Request $50,000 for pain and suffering, blurred vision, dry mount and limbs." (Complaint, Ex. A.) Plaintiff further wrote: "Went to dispensary 12/25/06 approx 8:15 a.m. Requests help and medication denied." (Complaint, Ex. A (emphasis in original).) Plaintiff's grievance was denied by the B-Unit Manager on January 11, 2007.

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff commenced this civil action on April 1, 2007, by filing a pro se complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania (Docketed at No. 07-10289). Plaintiff asserts a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 against Defendant Schwappach for denial of access to medical ...


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