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Lawson v. Ferdarko

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

January 4, 2017

TYREE LAWSON, Plaintiff,


          SUSAN PARADISE BAXTER United States Magistrate Judge.


         A. Relevant Procedural History

         On July 13, 2015, Plaintiff Tyree Lawson, an inmate currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Forest in Marienville, Pennsylvania (“SCI-Forest”), initiated this civil rights action by mailing to this Court a request for IFP status and pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Named as the sole Defendant is Jamie Ferdarko, a nurse at SCI-Forest. Lawson alleges that Ferdarko was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition, in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Defendant filed an Answer on January 5, 2016.

         On January 6, 2016, the Court issued a Case Management Order [ECF No. 22], which provided in relevant part that Defendant shall file a pretrial narrative statement “and/or a motion for summary judgment” on or before May 16, 2016. On May 16, 2016, Defendant filed a MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF No. 24] with brief, concise statement of material facts (“CSMF”) and appendix in support [ECF Nos. 25, 26, 27]. Plaintiff has filed a Narrative Statement of Facts, an opposition to the CSMF, a brief in opposition to the motion, and a Declaration [ECF Nos. 31, 32, 33, 33-1]. Contrary to the argument in Plaintiff's brief [ECF No. 33 at 6-7], Defendant's motion is timely because it was filed on the date set forth in the Court's Case Management Order. The motion is ripe for disposition.

         B. Relevant Factual History

         The parties have disputed many of the underlying facts in this case. The following facts have been drawn in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, as set forth in his Narrative Statement of Facts and Declaration, as well as the portions of Defendants' CSMF and Appendix that have not been disputed by Plaintiff.

         On May 28, 2015, Lawson began feeling extreme discomfort in his groin area. On May 29, he completed an inmate sick call request form. The medical department does not generally take “walk-ins”; instead inmates need to schedule appointments unless there is an emergency. If an inmate comes to the medical department without being scheduled, he is assessed to make sure there is no emergency and then sent back to his unit. On June 3, 2015, at approximately 1:40 p.m., Lawson informed the unit pod officer that he was experiencing pain and discomfort in his groin and was sent to the medical department on an emergency pass. After a 5-10 minute wait, he was frisked by officers and placed in an examination room, where he encountered Nurse Ferdarko.

         Lawson was hunched over in pain and holding his stomach. Ferdarko directed Lawson to sit. In response, Lawson explained that his pain got worse while sitting or walking. Lawson also told Ferdarko that his urine had an odd rusty color. Ferdarko stated that Nurse Zupsic was unavailable to examine Lawson because she had other things to do. Ferdarko then informed Lawson that he was on the sick-call schedule and would be examined the next day, June 4. When Lawson requested to see a doctor, Ferdarko became rudely belligerent and gave him a direct order to return to his cell.

         At about 8:15 a.m. on June 4, Nurse Zupsic examined Lawson. She discovered an odd stiffness or lump in his lower stomach and that his testicle appeared a bit swollen, and released him with instructions to place hot compression on his groin or stomach if the pain persisted. Zupsic also ordered an ultrasound, urine lab work and Tylenol as needed.

         On June 5, 2015, Lawson was sent to the medical department to provide a scheduled urine sample. On June 24, 2015, he had the ultrasound, although the technician scanned only his groin area and not his abdomen. The Ultrasound Report found that Lawson's testicles were unremarkable and without evidence of testicular masses. He had an 8 mm cyst at the left epididymis. There was no evidence of hydrocele. [ECF No. 27, Exh. B at 6]. Lawson was next seen in sick call two months later, on August 26, 2015, for re-occurring pain in his groin and stomach area. The nurse practitioner who examined Lawson noted epididymitis vs. urinary tract infection (“UTI”) and ordered urine lab testing and an antibiotic. On September 8, 2015, the doctor noted that the lab work was consistent with UTI. Plaintiff has had no subsequent medical complaints, other than a sore throat in April 2016.

         Lawson filed a grievance against Ferdarko shortly after the incident, on June 4, 2015. Pursuant to DOC Inmate Grievance System Policy DC-ADM 804, the initial response to the grievance was due within fifteen working days, or June 26, 2015. Kim Smith, CHCA, admits that she failed to meet this deadline. [ECF No. 27, Exh. D]. On July 13, 2015, Lawson initiated the instant federal lawsuit. In the Complaint, Lawson alleged that he had exhausted his administrative remedies because he had filed a grievance, and had not received a response to it within fifteen days as required by Policy DC-ADM 804. Smith issued a response, denying Lawson's grievance, on July 16, 2015.[2] Lawson never appealed this denial to the Superintendent.


         A. Summary Judgment

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c)(2) provides that summary judgment shall be granted if the “pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Rule 56(e)(2) further provides that when a motion for summary judgment is made and supported, “an opposing party may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own ...

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