United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MICHAEL K. MILLER, Plaintiff,
DEPUTY WARDEN CAROL STEELE-SMITH; SOUTHERN HEALTH PARTNERS; BETH HARRIS, MSM; BETTY WEGNER, RN; AND BEAVER COUNTY, Defendants. ECF Nos. 50, 53
Pupo Lenihan United States Magistrate Judge.
a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 filed by
Plaintiff, Michael K. Miller, regarding medical treatment he
received while he was a pretrial detainee at the Beaver
County Jail. Southern Health Partners is a private
corporation that provides medical services to inmates at the
jail. Beth Harris is the jail's medical services manager,
Betty Wegner is a nurse at the jail, and Carol Steele-Smith
is the jail's deputy warden ("Individual
Defendants"). Pending before the Court are the motions
for summary judgment filed by Defendants. (ECF Nos. 50, 53).
For the following reasons, the motions will be granted.
23, 2013, Plaintiff was in a car accident while driving under
the influence of alcohol and drugs. Med. Defs.' Concise
Statement of Material Facts ("CSMF") ¶ 3. At
the time, he was on parole for a prior DUI conviction.
Pl.'s Dep. at 33:4-6. Following the accident, Plaintiff
was arrested and taken to Heritage Valley Hospital with
complaints of lower back pain.Med. Des.' CSMF ¶¶4,
5. Upon examination, Plaintiff exhibited some tenderness in
his lower lumbar region and a "mild amount of abrasion
over the knuckles" of his left hand, but "[n]o
crepitation or deformity." Med. Defs.' Ex. B, ECF
No. 51-1 at 14. Plaintiff also had normal strength in his
upper extremities. Id. According to Plaintiff, he
was blacked out during this evaluation, and he has no
specific recollection of what happened at the hospital.
Pl.'s Dep. at 36:12-14.
his discharge around midnight on May 23, Plaintiff was taken
to the Beaver County Jail, where, early the next morning, he
underwent an initial medical screening with Angela Pugh, LPN.
Med. Defs.' CSMF ¶ 10. Upon examination, Pugh noted
that Plaintiff had cuts on his left hand and appeared to
still be under the influence of alcohol. Med. Defs.' Ex.
D., ECF No. 51-1 at 20. Plaintiff testified, however, that by
the time he met with Pugh, he "had already discovered
that [he] had pain to [his] wrist" and that his wrist
was moving abnormally. Pl.'s Dep. at 44:20-21. He alleges
that he told the nurse that his wrist was broken and held it
up to show her. Id. at 45:1-7. Pugh allegedly
responded, '"I don't see anything wrong with
it[, ]'" and gave him a Tylenol. Id. at
the intake screening, Pugh had Plaintiff execute an
authorization for Heritage Valley to release his medical
records, including "any/all x-ray/lab results including
any follow up care." Med. Defs.' Ex. E, ECF No. 51-1
at 22. Lab results and two discharge summary forms were faxed
to the jail later that day. Pl.'s Ex. C, ECF No. 60-3.
According to a "Physician's Order" form, Dr.
Earnest Bonitatibus prescribed Motrin and Flexeril on May 24,
which medication administration records indicate he received
as directed. Med. Defs.' CSMF ¶ 15. Two days
later, Dr. Bonitatibus issued an order by phone for Plaintiff
to receive an extra blanket to elevate his left arm.
was examined by Dr. Bonitatibus on May 28, 2013.
Id.¶ 19. Dr. Bonitatibus prescribed Plaintiff
Naprosyn in place of Motrin, along with Tylenol as needed. He
also ordered the nursing staff to obtain the records from
Plaintiffs emergency room visit to determine whether his left
wrist had been x-rayed. Id. If not, Dr. Bonitatibus
ordered an x-ray be scheduled. Id. Per Dr.
Bonitatibus's order, Harris made a second record request
from Heritage Valley. The records were received via fax later
that day. Pl.'s Ex. E, ECF No. 59-5 (handwritten notation
indicating "[r]ecords rec'd 5/28/2013"). For
unspecified reasons, Harris did not contact Dr. Bonitatibus
until May 31 to advise him that an x-ray had not been
completed. Upon learning that, Dr. Bonitatibus ordered Harris
to schedule an x-ray with Mobile X. Med. Defs.' Ex. H,
ECF No. 51-1 at 31. The x-ray was scheduled for June 3.
Harris could not recall why the x-ray was not scheduled until
then. Harris Dep. at 105:7.
underwent the x-ray as scheduled, which revealed an acute
fracture of the distal radius. Med. Defs.' Ex. H, ECF No.
51-1. On June 4, 2013, Wegner examined Plaintiff and noted,
among other things, that his left wrist was swollen and that
there was a fracture. Med. Defs.' Ex. K, ECF No. 51-1 at
the x-ray took place on June 3,  for reasons she could not
recall, Harris did not report the results to Dr. Bonitatibus
until June 6, at which point Dr. Bonitatibus directed Harris
to refer Plaintiff to an orthopedic specialist, Dr. Bernard
Hirsch. Med. Defs.' Ex. F, ECF No. 51-1 at 24; Med
Defs.' Ex. H, ECF No. 51-1 at 31. Harris scheduled an
appointment for June 10. Id. That same day,
Plaintiff was also placed on bottom bunk status. Med.
Defs.' Ex. F, 51-1 at 24.
June 10 appointment, Dr. Hirsch diagnosed Plaintiff with a
displaced left distal radius fracture and recommended that he
be referred to a hand surgeon for a consultation. Med.
Defs.' CSMF f 33. Dr. Hirsch noted that Plaintiff
"may remove splint for hygiene only." Med. Defs.'
Ex. L, ECF No. 51-1 at 40.
same day, the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County issued
an order releasing Plaintiff on a $1.00 bond. Med. Defs. Ex.
M, ECF No. 51-1 at 42. The order further noted that the
Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole was set to detain
Plaintiff upon his release on bond and transfer him to a
state facility. Id. The medical staff was thereafter
informed that Plaintiff was set to be transferred. On June
13, 2013, Harris completed an inmate transfer form, in which
she indicated that Plaintiff had a "splint on [his] left
hand/wrist" and was taking Naproxen and Tylenol. Med.
Defs.' Ex N, ECF No. 51-1 at 44. Harris further noted
that Plaintiff needed a have a consultation scheduled with a
hand surgeon. Id. Plaintiff was released from the
jail later that day and transferred to SCI-Pittsburgh.
to Plaintiff, at some point prior to his transfer, he had one
encounter with Steele-Smith regarding his wrist injury. Cnty.
Defs.' CSM ¶ 63. Plaintiff testified that his mother
called the jail, and he was brought to an
"administration room" to speak to her. Id.
¶ 64-65. After speaking with his mother, Plaintiff
raised his left arm so that Steele-Smith could see it and
"said, 'Listen, I need treatment. I am not getting
treated in medical.'" Pl.'s Dep. at 136:25 -
137:1-3. Plaintiff claims that his wrist was
"[d]isfigured" at the time. Pl.'s Dep. at
137:14. After Plaintiff broached the subject, Steele-Smith
allegedly "turned her back on [him] before she even
answered" and "over her shoulder" said,
'"I'm sure they are treating you.'"
Id. at 76:3-8.
August July 3, 2013, Plaintiff was seen by an orthopedic
surgeon, Edward L. Birdsong, M.D., for a consultation. Cnty.
Defs.' Ex. N, ECF No. 55-14 at 2. Plaintiff
"complain[ed] of swelling, pain and deformity of the
wrist[, ]" which was exacerbated by "[a]ny kind of
activity." Id. However, "[a]t complete
rest with the splint in place, he [was] relatively pain
free." Id. Upon examination, Dr. Birdsong
diagnosed Plaintiff with a malunion of the left distal
radius. Id. After Dr. Birdsong explained that the
bone would never return to normal alignment if left
untreated, Plaintiff elected to have corrective surgery.
Id. at 3. Plaintiff underwent the surgery on August
1, 2013, after which he was placed in a short arm cast.
Id. at 4-6. The cast was removed on September 13,
2013, at which point Dr. Birdsong noted that Plaintiff was
doing "quite well" and displayed a good range of
motion. Id. at 7. X-rays showed that the bone was in
"excellent alignment[.]" Id. However,
Plaintiff continues to experience "a dull ache" in
his wrist. Pl.'s Dep. at 100:3. He also testified that he
feels a "slight weakness" in some of his
initiated this action by filing a complaint against
Steele-Smith, Southern Health Partners, Beaver County, and
various "Doe" Defendants on May 20, 2015. (ECF No.
1). Beaver County and Steele-Smith responded by filing a
partial motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 12). On August 28, 2015,
Plaintiff filed an amended complaint, in which Steele-Smith,
Beaver County, Southern Health Partners, Harris, and Pugh
were named as Defendants. (ECF No. 26). On August 31, 2016,
Plaintiff filed a stipulation of dismissal as to Pugh. (ECF
Nos. 48). Following the close of discovery, Defendants filed
the pending motions, which have been fully briefed and are
ripe for disposition. (ECF Nos. 51, 52, 54-63).