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Horne v. Department of Corrections

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 8, 2017

RONALD HORNE, Plaintiff,


          Hon. John E. Jones III Judge

         Plaintiff Ronald Horne (“Horne”), a Pennsylvania state inmate, incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon (“SCI-Huntingdon”) at all times relevant, commenced this civil rights action on October 16, 2014. (Doc. 1). Remaining for disposition is Horne's claim that Defendants Richard Goss (“Goss”) and J. Ake (“Ake”) personally delayed or denied medical treatment for pain in his abdomen and kidneys. (Doc. 39, pp. 5, 8).

         Presently pending is a motion (Doc. 64) for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 filed on behalf of Defendants Goss and Ake. For the reasons set forth below, the motion for summary judgment will be granted.


         Summary judgment “should be rendered 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Turner v. Schering-Plough Corp., 901 F.2d 335, 340 (3d Cir. 1990). “[T]his standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original); Brown v. Grabowski, 922 F.2d 1097, 1111 (3d Cir. 1990). A disputed fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the case under applicable substantive law. Id.; Gray v. York Newspapers, Inc., 957 F.2d 1070, 1078 (3d Cir. 1992). An issue of material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 257; Brenner v. Local 514, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, 927 F.2d 1283, 1287-88 (3d Cir. 1991).

         The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue as to any material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Orson, Inc. v. Miramax Film Corp., 79 F.3d 1358, 1366 (3d Cir. 1996). Once such a showing has been made, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings with affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories or the like in order to demonstrate specific material facts which give rise to a genuine issue. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986) (stating that the non-moving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts”); Wooler v. Citizens Bank, 274 F. App'x 177, 179 (3d Cir. 2008). The party opposing the motion must produce evidence to show the existence of every element essential to its case, which it bears the burden of proving at trial, because “a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.” Celotex. at 323; see also Harter v. G.A.F. Corp., 967 F.2d 846, 851 (3d Cir. 1992). “[T]he non-moving party ‘may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleadings; rather, its response must . . . set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial.'” Picozzi v. Haulderman, 2011 WL 830331, *2 (M.D. Pa. 2011) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2)). “Inferences should be drawn in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and where the non-moving party's evidence contradicts the movant's, then the non-movant's must be taken as true.” Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of North America. Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992).


         Horne arrived at SCI-Huntingdon via transfer from SCI-Rockview on or about October 6, 2011. (Doc. 65, ¶ 1; Doc. 76-1, ¶ 1). His health problems at issue in this case began in January 2012.[1] (Id. at 2: Id. at 2). On February 2, 2012, Physician's Assistant Trimai treated Horne for excessive urination and bilateral flank pain. (Id. at 4; Id. at 4). He ordered various blood and urine tests. (Id.; Id.). On February 3, 2012, Defendant Ake, a Registered Nurse, noted in Horne's medical record that Horne failed to appear for the urine dip which had been scheduled by Trimai. (Id. at 5, 18; Id. at 18). Horne contends that on this date, he informed Ake that he was in need of medical attention; Ake told him he “was crazy and if [he] did not shut up he would put [him] in POC.” (Doc. 76-1, ¶ 6; Doc. 76-2, ¶ 3).

         On February 9, 2012, Ake noted that Horne's Psychological Review Team met to discuss his mental health care and indicated /that it would meet again the following year. (Id. at 22; Id. at 22). Ake never physically examined Horne during the relevant time period. (Id. at 19; Id. at 19). Physician's Assistants Trimai and Riscigno treated Horne for complaints of right flank pain on February 8, February 17, and March 1, 2012. (Doc. 65, ¶¶ 6, 8, 9).

         According to confidential mental health records, on October 24, 2012, Horne's unit manager became concerned by Horne's abnormal behavior which included, inter alia, urinating and defecating on the cell floor. (Id. at 11; Id. at 11). Certified registered nurse practitioner (CRNP) Linda Lane (“Lane”) admitted Horne to a psychological observation cell (“POC”) on that date. (Doc. 65, ¶ 11). Lane released him the next day with a directive to follow up in a week. (Doc. 65, ¶ 12; Doc. 76-1, ¶ 12).

         Physician Assistant Chew responded to a sick call request on November 7, 2012, and observed Horne lying on his hands and knees underneath a feces-covered blanket. (Doc. 65, ¶ 15). Chew referred Horne for an immediate psychiatric evaluation. (Id.)

         Goss, a Licensed Psychology Manager, is only involved in psychological care. (Doc. 66-11, ¶ 4). He is not “credentialed” to treat inmate's medical problems. (Id.) On November 7, 2012, Goss placed Horne in psychological observation status due to Horne's mental decompensation after he continued to be nonverbal, was lying in a fetal position naked, and had defecated and urinated in his cell. (Doc. 65, ¶¶ 23, 26; Doc. 76-1, ¶¶ 23, 26). At the time, Horne displayed symptoms of catatonia. (Id. at 26; Id. at 26). Goss executed an “Application for Involuntary Emergency Examination and Treatment” pursuant to Section 302 of the Mental Health Procedures Act of 1976. (Id. at 27, 29). Dr. Dolphin, a psychiatrist, examined Horne for the purpose of determining whether an involuntary commitment was indicated and certified that Horne was severely mentally disabled and in need of treatment. (Id. at 28). The following day, November 8, 2012, based on Goss's application and Dolphin's certification, Horne was committed to the State Correctional Institution at Cresson (“SCI-Cresson”) mental health unit on an involuntary commitment. (Id. at 16, 29).

         While at SCI-Cresson Horne received a CT scan of his abdomen that revealed a small bowel obstruction. (Id. at 17).

         III. ...

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