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William P. Haug v. Cec

January 23, 2013

WILLIAM P. HAUG
v.
CEC, OPERATOR OF GEORGE W. HILL CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, ET. AL.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This Section 1983 action has been brought before the Court on motion of Defendants CEC (Community Education Centers, Inc.), Emanuel Asante and Frank Green for the entry of summary judgment in their favor as to all of Prisoner-Plaintiff's claims against them. After careful consideration of the record evidence, the motion shall be granted.

Summary of Relevant Facts

On October 4, 2010, Plaintiff William Haug was arrested by the Ridley Township (Delaware County, Pennsylvania) Police Department for various offenses and transported to the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Thornton, PA. (Def. Exhibits "B" and "C"). The following day, when Plaintiff was seen in the prison medical receiving unit, he advised the intake physician assistant that he suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and panic attacks. Plaintiff also reported that he was then currently taking Xanax, 2 mg., three times per day and he provided the name and phone number of the pharmacy in Woodlyn, PA where his prescription was on file and had been filled. (Def. Exhibit "C", CEC-000001-000003, CEC-000008; Pl's Dep., pp. 23-26, 36). Plaintiff's intake physical examination revealed him to be in good health otherwise, although curiously, his mental health intake assessment reflects that Plaintiff was not taking any psychotropic medications, did not appear overly anxious or afraid, showed no signs of withdrawal or mental illness, and that he had no history of outpatient mental health treatment. (Def. Exhibit "C", CEC-000019).

Plaintiff did not receive any of his prescribed medication after his incarceration with the result that he began experiencing withdrawal symptoms within days of his admission to the defendant correctional facility. According to Plaintiff, he was sweating, dizzy, nauseous, had diarrhea, couldn't sleep and he felt faint and anxious, like he "was crawling out of [his] skin," and he "started to think [he] was seeing things." Plaintiff testified that, from October 5 th until he was eventually seen on October 14 th, he asked the guards every day to take him to the medical unit. (Pl's Dep., pp. 33-34). Finally, on October 14 th, one of the corrections officers *fn1 whom Plaintiff had been asking to call into the medical unit for him, did so because, according to Plaintiff, "he seen that I looked pretty bad...I guess he had sympathy or whatever..." (Pl's Dep., pp. 43-44).

As reflected by the prison's records, Plaintiff submitted a medical request on October 10, 2010 in which he reported that his problem was that he was "withdrawing from Xanax and I never received any medication -- I'm very dizzy and having severe panic attacks..." (Def. Ex. "C," CEC-000032). This request was purportedly received in the medical unit on October 12, 2010 and he was thereafter seen by a nurse in the unit on October 14, 2010. Plaintiff's symptoms and complaints were recorded, he was examined and found to have low blood pressure (105/55), a mild muscle twitch in his left leg, a heart rate of 84 beats per minute, a slightly elevated body temperature of 99 degrees and to be alert and oriented to person, place and time. He was diagnosed as suffering from anxiety related to Xanax withdrawal, and was referred to Psychiatry for follow-up and instructed in anxiety-reducing breathing exercises. Plaintiff was also instructed to immediately return to medical if his anxiety increased or suicidal ideation developed to which Plaintiff verbalized that he understood. (Def. Ex. "C," CEC-000008; Pl's Dep., 43-45). Plaintiff testified that the nurse told him there was nothing they could do about it and that it would only be a few more days until withdrawal would be over. Plaintiff also testified that his withdrawal symptoms remained bad for over a week. (Pl's Dep., pp. 35-36).

Over the next several months, Plaintiff made a number of other requests for medical treatment for, in addition to his panic attacks and anxiety, a red rash and lesions on his leg, sore throat and sinus pain, a dental check-up and cleaning and for testing for sexually-transmitted diseases/HIV, all of which resulted in his being seen and treated in a timely fashion for those non-psychiatric conditions. (Def. Exhibit "C").

However, despite his repeated requests and the psychiatric referral of October 14, 2010, it does not appear that Plaintiff was seen by the prison psychiatric unit until January 14, 2011, when he apparently reluctantly saw a psychologist, Dana Dantzler, whose notes state only: "pt did not want to come for visit." (Def. Ex. "C," CEC-000004, CEC-000006). Plaintiff's recollection on this visit is spotty -- he recalls only seeing her once and that she "put [him] in for a psych referral." (Pl's Dep., pp. 53-56).

Two days later, Plaintiff was seen by David Neal, MSW/LSW, who took a more complete psychiatric history, noting that Plaintiff had been previously diagnosed as suffering from the following disorders: Bipolar, ADHD, PTSD, and Anxiety. (Def. Exhibit "C," CEC-000015-000016). Mr. Neal noted that Plaintiff had low frustration tolerance, few/poor coping skills, and found him to have a mood disorder, not otherwise specified. He likewise referred him to psychiatry for follow up. (CEC-000018).

Approximately one month later, on February 12, 2011, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Grato Paneque, a psychiatrist, whose mental status evaluation revealed a "21-year old angry young man because 'I'm not getting my medication.'" Dr. Paneque found that Plaintiff's affect was slightly anxious, he was goal directed, had no psychosis, denied suicidal ideation but did give a history of one suicide attempt prior to prison. Dr. Paneque found Plaintiff to be suffering from anxiety disorder, mood disorder (not otherwise specified), and personality disorder (not otherwise specified). He discussed a trial of mood stabilizer and SSRI trial with Celexa but Mr. Haug "adamantly" refused all medications except for Xanax or Klonopin." (Def. Exhibit "C," CEC-000006; Exhibit "D"; Pl's Dep., 52-58). There is no evidence that Plaintiff was ever seen again for psychiatric care and, on March 11, 2011, he was transferred from George W. Hill Correctional Facility to Graterford State Correctional Institution. (Pl's Dep., 59).

On August 19, 2011, Plaintiff applied for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, which was granted and Plaintiff's complaint accepted for filing on August 24, 2011 against the Warden, Medical Department and CEC, the operator of the George W. Hill Correctional Facility, along with Dr. Paneque, Emmanuel Asante, the prison's grievance coordinator and the two individual correctional officers to whom plaintiff alleged he repeatedly asked for medical care. Motions to dismiss were filed and granted with prejudice as to George W. Hill Correctional Facility, its medical department and Dr. Paneque. Leave to re-plead as to the remaining defendants was given and Plaintiff filed several amended complaints as to these moving defendants asserting that, by delaying and/or denying him prompt access to medical care for his Xanax withdrawal, the defendants violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. It is as to these claims that Defendants *fn2 now move for the entry of judgment in their favor as a matter of law.

Standards Governing Entry of Summary Judgment Summary judgment is appropriate only if there are no genuine issues of material fact such that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Erdman v. Nationwide Insurance Co., 582 F.3d 500, 502 (3d Cir. 2009); Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). An issue is genuine only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis on which a reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party, and a factual dispute is material only if it might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law. Bilibi v. Klein, No. 05-3496, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 20694 at *3, 249 Fed. Appx. 284, 286 (3d Cir. Aug. 29, 2007)(citing Kaucher v. County of Bucks, 455 F.3d 418, 423 (3d Cir. 2006)). See also, Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 91 L. Ed.2d 202 (1986). If the non-moving party bears the burden of persuasion at trial, "the moving party may meet its burden on summary judgment by showing that the nonmoving party's evidence is insufficient to carry that burden." Kaucher, supra, (quoting Wetzel v. Tucker, 139 F.3d 380, 383 n.2 (3d Cir. 1998)). In undertaking review of the evidence, district courts view the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. See, Conoshenti v. Public Service Electric & Gas Co., 364 F.3d 135, 140 (3d Cir. 2004); Nicini v. Morra, 212 F.3d 798, 806 (3d Cir. 2000). "If there is a chance that a reasonable factfinder would not accept a moving party's necessary propositions of fact, pre- trial judgment cannot be granted." El v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, 479 F.3d 232, 238 (3d Cir. 2007). "Specious objections will not, of course, defeat a motion for summary judgment, but real questions about credibility, gaps in the evidence, and doubts as to the sufficiency of the movant's proof, will." Id.; Crosby v. UPMC, Civ. A. No. 07-501, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23736 at *24 (W.D. Pa. March 20, 2009).

Discussion

As noted, Plaintiff instituted this civil action under Section 1983, 42 U.S.C., which reads as ...


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