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Curbeam v. PrimeCare Medical, Inc.

United States District Court, Third Circuit

November 6, 2013

EDDIE L. CURBEAM, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
PRIMECARE MEDICAL, INC., et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

GENE E.K. PRATTER United States District Judge

PrimeCare Medical, Inc., Kathryn Hogan, and Debbie McFadden move for summary judgment (Docket Nos. 32-34) and ask the Court to dismiss Eddie L. Curbeam, Jr.’s suit for intentional infliction of emotional distress and their alleged violation of his Eighth Amendment right to medical treatment. Having canvassed the background of this case once before, the Court writes primarily for the parties. See Curbeam v. Montgomery Cnty. Corr. Facility, No. 12-2309, 2013 WL 315719 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 28, 2013). For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Mr. Curbeam, a pro se plaintiff incarcerated at Montgomery County Correctional Facility, sued several individuals and entities for what he alleges was their sustained denial of the medical care he required. Following review of the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, the Court dismissed all claims and defendants except for claims for (1) intentional infliction of emotional distress against PrimeCare Medical; (2) intentional infliction of emotional distress and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 deliberate indifference against Ms. Hogan; and (3) intentional infliction of emotional distress and § 1983 deliberate indifference against Ms. McFadden.

Mr. Curbeam subsequently filed an Amended Complaint (Docket No. 28) that, though clearer than his initial Complaint (Docket No. 4), is nonetheless difficult to place into context because of the information that, though present in the initial Complaint, was omitted in the second effort. The Amended Complaint focuses only on the three Defendants against whom Mr. Curbeam’s claims survived the Motion to Dismiss: PrimeCare Medical, Ms. Hogan, and Ms. McFadden.

Mr. Curbeam, who alleges that he was housed on the upper floor of the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, makes what seem to be two operative allegations against the Defendants. First, he alleges that on March 24, 2012, Ms. McFadden entered his cell “as a routine procedure when an inmate is injured.” Am. Compl. ¶ 9 (hereinafter “AC”). He does not specify what injury this was; presumably, it was the slip-and-fall injury referred to in his original Complaint. In any case, he alleges that “[u]pon [Ms. McFadden’s] arrival she realized who it was and began to express unconcern and unprofessional like behaviors (VERBAL ABUSE).” AC ¶ 9. He avers that he was then “made to walk on my own down the stairs to the wheel chair” and, once at the medical department, Nurse McFadden protracted his “intentional discomfort” by telling him “to do obvious pain causing motions, ” AC ¶ 10, and remarking that “you[’re] the one who said he want[s] nothing to do with us, ” at which point he “began to [experience] more discomfort and more pain, ” AC ¶ 12. Ms. McFadden then allegedly dismissed Mr. Curbeam “without [affording him] any pain relief [a]s a result of her not liking [his] answer to a question.” AC ¶ 13.

Second, Mr. Curbeam alleges that at an earlier appointment with Ms. Hogan, “she entered maliciously that [he] had declined to be treated medically by any of the staff, ” AC ¶ 14, such that “it stated in the computer that [he] had willingly denied all medical care, ” AC ¶ 16. Mr. Curbeam alleges that this computer entry “was fabricated” by Ms. Hogan. As a result of Ms. Hogan’s and Ms. McFadden’s actions, Mr. Curbeam alleges, he was denied an appointment for “21 days of pain[, ] suffering and verbal abuses.” AC ¶ 15.

Mr. Curbeam argues that Ms. McFadden and Ms. Hogan were deliberately indifferent, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, in their failure to treat him. He also alleges that they “caused [him] pain, suffering and emotional stress supported by 10 eyewitness signatures and statements, ” as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress. AC ¶ 21. Specifically, Mr. Curbeam alleges that Ms. McFadden’s actions were in retaliation, although he does not specify for what the retaliation was intended. He demands $15, 000 in compensatory damages and $5000 in punitive damages.

The evidence of record does not support Mr. Curbeam’s allegations. Mr. Curbeam served no discovery. From Defendants’ exhibits, it also appears that Mr. Curbeam was not deposed. Further, in response to the Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment, Mr. Curbeam submitted only a two-page Response in which he stated that “after viewing statements and all facts, I still feel the need to pursue this case” because, he argues, the Defendants admitted “poor bedside manner” and “the medical records show that there was a medical record existing” (presumably, that he had refused treatment), along with “harmful [intention], ” (Docket No. 36). He further contends that he has “submitted signed declarations to the Court” (see Docket Nos. 12-14) and that he has witnesses willing to testify to the “gap in medication reception.” Resp. at 1. He also argues that “if need be I can submit medical proof, ” id. at 2, but he has failed to do so.

Although Mr. Curbeam is a pro se plaintiff and, in his words, “as a pro se plaintiff there are some things I do not understand and [am] incapable of submitting in the fashion required, ” id. at 1, Mr. Curbeam must nevertheless meet his burden at the summary judgment stage—i.e., of pointing to evidence to rebut the moving Defendants’ evidence of the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. This he has failed to do.

Instead, the record evidence establishes the following facts concerning, first, Ms. Hogan’s allegedly fabricated entry in Mr. Curbeam’s medical record that Mr. Curbeam had refused medical care and, second, Ms. McFadden’s alleged abusive, deliberately indifferent treatment of Mr. Curbeam, these alleged events being the linchpins of Mr. Curbeam’s claims.

A. MS. HOGAN’S ALLEGED FALSE RECORDS ENTRY

First, with regard to Ms. Hogan’s allegedly false entry into Mr. Curbeam’s file that he had refused treatment, the record evidence shows:

• On a February 1, 2012 sick call, Dr. Margaret Carrillo noted that while Mr. Curbeam had “intermittent numbness and tingling of R ring and little fingers of R hand, extending up into his forearm, present for several months, ” this “[n]umbness does not incapacitate patient and he requests no analgesics for symptoms.” Instead, Mr. Curbeam “otherwise feels well and would like to work.” Dr. Carrillo advised Mr. Curbeam that “he may lift weights but to avoid heavy weight lifting in gym and repeated pushups.” (Ex. A at 38 (Docket No. 34-2));
• On a February 5, 2012 request form, Mr. Curbeam, “for the purpose of growth, ” requested work clearance, as he had been “told by the PA that [he] would possibly be cleared for work.” The request was denied because “you continue to complain of leg pain.” (Ex. A at 74);
• Mr. Curbeam renewed his request for work clearance on February 18, 2012. He stated, “If I may be cleared for work duties please. If need be I will submit[] to a follow up check up. I am no longer tak[ing] any meds as of the two weeks or more and I am working out regularly with good results. Have resumed normal functions for some time.” (Ex. A at 75);
• At a February 20, 2012 appointment, Nurse Ann Defrangesco noted that Mr. Curbeam “has stopped taking medication and states that he has returned to ...

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