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Anthony Brown v. Robert Maxa

March 5, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Baxter


United States Magistrate Judge Susan Paradise Baxter.


A. Relevant Procedural History

On June 30, 2011, Plaintiff Anthony Brown, a prisoner incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Forest in Marienville, Pennsylvania (ASCI-Forest@), filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ' 1983, against Defendants Robert Maxa, medical director at SCI-Forest (AMaxa@), and Rhonda Sherbine, a physician=s assistant at SCI-Forest (ASherbine@). [ECF No. 1].

In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights.*fn2 As relief for his claims, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

On January 6, 2012, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff=s complaint [ECF No. 14], asserting that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim of deliberate indifference upon which relief may be granted and/or that Plaintiff=s claims for punitive damages must be dismissed. Plaintiff filed a response to Defendants= motion on January 13, 2012. [ECF No. 17]. This matter is now ripe for consideration.

B. Relevant Factual History*fn3

On or about July 9, 2009, Plaintiff saw a spider fall out of his sheets as he was making his bed. (ECF NO. 1, Complaint, at & 8). That evening Plaintiff started feeling pain in his right leg, where he noticed Atwo red dots.@ (Id. at & 9). On July 16, 2009, Plaintiff=s right leg was swollen to the point where he could barely walk. (Id. at & 10). After showing his leg to a corrections officer, Plaintiff obtained a pass to go to the medical department; however, when he arrived at the medical department, Plaintiff was turned away because his situation was not Alife or death@ and he was already scheduled for a sick call visit the next day. (Id. at && 11-12). Plaintiff was then seen at sick call on July 17, 2009, and was given Aa limited supply of antibiotics.@ (Id. at & 13). Even with the antibiotics, Plaintiff=s pain increased and he had difficulty putting weight on his leg. (Id. at & 14). A few days later, Plaintiff put in another sick call request and was seen by Defendant Sherbine, who allegedly told him not to put in any more sick call slips. (Id. at & 15).

Over the next four months, Plaintiff=s wound became worse and increased in size, and his pain continued to increase to the point where he was Aunable to climb into the top bunk and unable to walk without extreme pain.@ (Id. at & 16). Plaintiff alleges that his wound was not properly cleaned and became infected, and that the nursing staff was Anot qualified to provide him with adequate treatment.@ (Id. at && 18-19). Plaintiff alleges further that, despite the worsening of his wound, he was rarely seen by doctors at SCI-Forest. (Id. at & 20). Nonetheless, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Maxa was aware of Plaintiff=s worsening condition because he Asigned off on medication orders by the physician assistants and nurses at SCI-Forest,@ and allegedly reviewed the progress notes associated with the medication orders. (Id. at & 21).

By September 11, 2009, Plaintiff=s wound was 2.3 cm long, up to 1.4 cm wide, and 3 mm deep, and did not show any signs of healing. (Id. at & 26). On September 12, 2009, progress notes indicated that Plaintiff=s wound Aappear[ed] to be deepening@ and that Plaintiff reported an increase in pain. (Id. at & 27). On September 14, 2009, Defendant Sherbine evaluated Plaintiff=s leg and noted that the wound was 1.8 cm by 1.8 cm and healing. (Id. at & 29). Plaintiff frequently asked Defendant Sherbine for pain medication, but was told that the medical department did not like to give out pain medication because inmates were likely to abuse it; nevertheless, Plaintiff was ultimately provided pain medication. (Id. at & 33).

By September 21, 2009, Plaintiff=s wound was so painful Plaintiff had difficulty tolerating any touch to the area. (Id. at & 34). As a result, a nurse practitioner issued a written referral to a general surgeon requesting surgical closure of Plaintiff=s wound that was Agetting deeper daily.@ (Id. at & 37). Plaintiff alleges that by the time he saw the general surgeon on October 20, 2009, his wound Awas so deep it was down to the bone@ and could not be closed. (Id. at & 42). At that time, the surgeon recommended that Plaintiff be seen by another specialist, noting that the wound was A5cm x 5cm, smelled, and was draining purulent fluid.@ (Id.).

Eight days after Plaintiff=s consult with the general surgeon, Defendant Maxa wrote a referral for Plaintiff to be seen by a Awound specialist,@ which occurred five days later. (Id. at & 44). Plaintiff alleges that he received Amedically appropriate treatment@ from the wound specialist, who changed Plaintiff=s treatment plan and saw Plaintiff on a regular basis. (Id. at && 45-46). After repeated visits with the wound specialist, Plaintiff=s wound eventually ...

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