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Walker v. City of Philadelphia

August 4, 2010

WILLIAM JAMES WALKER, JR.
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, ET AL.



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

MEMORANDUM

The pro se plaintiff, William James Walker, is a prisoner in the Philadelphia Prison System. While incarcerated, he brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the Eighth Amendment against numerous defendants, including the City of Philadelphia, various corrections officers, Prison Health Services, Inc. ("PHS"), Dr. Demetrios Skliros, and Nurse Elizabeth Boxer.*fn1 He alleges that prison officials used excessive physical force against him, in violation of his civil rights. These officials were also deliberately indifferent to the plaintiff's needs for exercise, showers, and recreation, and they were deliberately indifferent in responding to the plaintiff's grievances. The plaintiff also alleges that PHS, Dr. Skliros, and Nurse Boxer were deliberately indifferent to the plaintiff's medical needs, and that supervisors allowed these illegal acts to occur. He lists his damages as a broken nose that healed out of place, severe back pain, a permanently bruised face, depression, and paranoid schizophrenia.

Because only PHS, Dr. Skliros, and Nurse Boxer move for summary judgment, the Court evaluates only those claims asserted against them: deliberate indifference towards the plaintiff's medical needs, and supervisory liability. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants the moving defendants' motion.

I. Summary Judgment Record:*fn2

The plaintiff became a prisoner in the Philadelphia Prison System on April 7, 2005.*fn3 During his incarceration, he was involved in several altercations with prison officials, which resulted in the need for medical treatment. Second Amended Complaint ¶ 3 ("Compl."); Lock & Track Admission History Report, Ex. B to Defs.' M.

The first incident occurred on July 7, 2005, and it involved a physical altercation with three correctional officers. Thereafter, the plaintiff was handcuffed and taken to the prison's medical facility. He was treated by Dr. Mohammed Haque, who is not a defendant in this matter. Dr. Haque recorded in the plaintiff's progress notes that the plaintiff had a small laceration on the front of his head, redness in both eyes, and an abrasion on the front, left side of his chest. He also recorded these injuries in a Use of Force Incident Form. Dr. Haque then ordered a wound check every shift, Motrin three times a day as needed, the application of ice, and sutures to the laceration on the plaintiff's forehead. Compl. ¶¶ 18-30; Pl.'s Inmate Grievance Form, July 8, 2005, Ex. C to Defs.' M.; PHS Treatment Notes, Ex. D to Defs.' M.; Use of Force Incident Form, Ex. E to Defs.' M.

The plaintiff filed a grievance on July 8, 2005, in response to his medical care. He complained that a doctor told him that he had a broken nose, but that he was not provided any treatment for this injury.*fn4 He does not allege, nor did he grieve, any other maltreatment stemming from this incident; he admits that he received ice and stitches for his other injuries, that his stitches were removed one week later, and that the laceration on this forehead began to close. Ex. C.; Compl. ¶¶ 33; Dep. of William James Walker Part I 51-52 ("Walker Dep. I"), Exs. F, G, H to Defs.' M.

There is no indication in any medical records that the plaintiff's nose was broken. There is also no indication nor allegation that Dr. Skliros or Nurse Boxer was involved in treating the plaintiff at this time, nor were Dr. Skliros or Nurse Boxer identified in the grievance filed. See Exs. D and E; Walker Dep. I 140-42.

The plaintiff was released from custody on August 16, 2005, but he was incarcerated again on September 2, 2005. On September 13, 2005, he was involved in a second altercation with a correctional officer that resulted in a forehead injury. Compl. ¶¶ 37-40, 50-60; Ex. B.

Following this incident, the plaintiff was escorted to the prison medical facility, and Dr. Skliros evaluated the plaintiff. In his examination report, Dr. Skliros indicated that there was "no evidence of any serious bodily injury." Indeed, the plaintiff stated in his deposition that his injuries amounted to a bruise on his face. Health Services Report on Examination of Inmate Involved in Use of Force Incident, Sept. 13, 2005, Ex. I to Defs.' M.; Walker Dep. I 72-73.

The plaintiff claims that Dr. Skliros "refused to treat" the plaintiff, and that the doctor told him that he had a few cuts and bruises, but would heal. The plaintiff did not complete a grievance related to any lack of medical treatment. Compl. ¶ 63.

Although not alleged in the complaint, Dr. Skliros treated the plaintiff a second time on September 13, 2005, after the plaintiff attempted a suicide. Dr. Skliros completed an Emergency Room Referral Request, and the plaintiff was transferred to the emergency room at Frankford Hospital for behavioral services. The plaintiff does not indicate any maltreatment related to this care. Progress Note of Sept. 13, 2005, Ex. K to Defs.' M.; Emergency Room Referral, Ex. L to Defs.' M.

The third incident occurred on October 4, 2005, where again, the plaintiff was involved in an altercation with correctional officers, this time after the plaintiff flooded his cell. The plaintiff alleges that the officers hurt his head and chest, and that they sprayed him with pepper spray. Compl. ¶¶ 67-72; Walker Dep. I 78.

The plaintiff was escorted to the prison medical facility, and Dr. A. Simmons, who is not a named defendant, treated the plaintiff. Dr. Simmons referred the plaintiff to the mental health department. Again, the plaintiff does not allege in his complaint that he was maltreated or denied medical care for any injury or medical need related to this incident. Nor did he file a ...


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