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Hampton v. Wetzel

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 10, 2017

JOHN WETZEL, et at, Defendants


          Christopher C. Conner, Chief Judge United States District Court

         Plaintiff Shawn Hampton ("Hampton"), an inmate currently confined at the Rockview State Correctional Institution in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Rockview"), commenced this action on July 17, 2014 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). The matter is proceeding via an amended complaint, wherein Hampton alleges that defendants' failure to provide him adequate medical services violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), and the Rehabilitation Act. (Doc. 13). Remaining defendants are Wetzel, Williams, Harpster, Glunt and McHenry (collectively, "Commonwealth defendants"), and Bernard and Koltay, physician assistants at SCI-Rockview.[1]

         Before the court is a motion (Doc. 71) for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 by the Commonwealth defendants, and a motion (Doc. 73) for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 by defendants Bernard and Koltay. For the reasons set forth below, the court will grant both motions.

         I. Legal Standard

         Through summary adjudication, the court may dispose of those claims that do not present a "genuine dispute as to any material fact" and for which a jury trial would be an empty and unnecessary formality. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The burden of proof tasks the non-moving party to come forth with "affirmative evidence, beyond the allegations of the pleadings, " in support of its right to relief. Pappas v. City of Lebanon, 331 F.Supp.2d 311, 315 (M.D. Pa. 2004); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). This evidence must be adequate, as a matter of law, to sustain a judgment in favor of the non-moving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250-57 (1986); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-89 (1986). Only if this threshold is met may the cause of action proceed. Pappas, 331 F.Supp.2d at 315.

         II. Statement of Material Facts [2]

         Hampton has been incarcerated at SCI-Rockview since May 2007. (Doc. 72 ¶ 1; Doc. 89 ¶ 1). Hampton has ostensibly suffered from low back pain for several years. (Doc. 72 ¶ 2; Doc. 89 ¶ 2).

         Hampton first presented to sick call with complaints of back pain on May 6, 2010. (Doc. 74 ¶ 4). On examination, the medical provider noted that Hampton had full strength and found no non-anatomical tenderness. (Id.) The medical provider ordered an x-ray of the lumbar spine. (Id.) The x-ray revealed mild degenerative disc disease at the lumbosacral joint. (Id.)

         On June 23, 2010, Hampton presented to sick call with complaints of left wrist pain after scooping oatmeal. (Id. at ¶ 5). He reported that the pain was exacerbated by dorsi-flexion exercises, and ibuprofen did not relieve his pain. (Id.) Examination revealed full range of motion and strength. (Id.) The medical provider diagnosed Hampton with left wrist pain and possible tendonitis and recommended that he continue taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications ("NSAIDs"). (Id.) Hampton returned to sick call on July 12, 2010, again complaining of left wrist pain. (Id. ¶ 6). During this visit, Hampton treated with physician assistant ("PA") Julie Pensiero. (Id.) Hampton reported that his pain improved when he stopped the repetitive job of scooping and began wrapping his wrist with an ACE bandage. (Id.) An examination of Hampton's wrist revealed full range of motion and full strength. (Id.) PA Pensiero diagnosed left wrist pain with possible overuse syndrome and recommended that Hampton continue using the ACE wrap. (Id.)

         On August 24, 2010, Hampton presented to sick call requesting a bottom bunk due to low back pain. (Id. ¶ 7). He denied a recent injury to his back. (Id.) He stated that the only prior injuries to his back occurred when he fell down a flight of stairs when he was ten years old and thirteen years old. (Id.) Hampton reported that he was taking Motrin for pain, which he purchased from the commissary. (Id.) PA Pensiero examined Hampton and noted that he was able to ambulate without difficulty, exhibited no muscle spasms, had full range of motion and strength, and was able to move without pain. (Id.) PA Pensiero found no indication for a bottom bunk. (Id.) PA Pensiero ordered Hampton a back brace and encouraged him to perform stretching and range of motion exercises. (See id.) Hampton received the back brace on September 1, 2010. (Id. ¶ 8).

         Hampton next complained of back pain on February 1, 2011, after a reported fall. (Id. ¶ 9). Nurse B. Dunlap treated Hampton, and noted that examination was unremarkable and Hampton did not appear to be in distress. (Id.) Nurse Dunlap advised Hampton to rest and gave him Motrin for pain. (Id.) Shortly thereafter, on February 24, 2011, while on a hunger strike, Hampton was evaluated by Nurse Robert Somich. (Id. ¶ 10). Hampton told Nurse Somich: "All I want is bottom bunk." (Id.) He reported that he would eat once given a bottom bunk restriction. (Id.) Hampton was also seen by a PA, who reviewed his most recent x-ray and observed that it revealed only mild degenerative disc disease. (Id.) Therefore, the PA did not believe that a bottom bunk restriction was medically necessary. (Id.) Although the record on this point is unclear, Hampton did receive a bottom bunk restriction at some point after the February 2011 visit. (See Doc. 74 ¶ 11; see also Doc. 72 ¶ 4; Doc. 89 ¶ 4).

         In September 2012, Hampton requested to have his activity restrictions lifted so that he could go to the gym to exercise and adhere to his treatment program. (Doc. 72 ¶ 3; Doc. 89 ¶ 3). The Commonwealth defendants aver that medical staff offered to lift Hampton's physical restrictions, but he declined the offer because he did not want to lose his bottom bunk status and extra pillows. (See Doc. 72 ¶ 4; Doc. 89 ¶ 4). Hampton explains that he did not want to sign off on all restrictions because "ALL of them were not the problem." (Doc. 89 ¶ 4).

         Hampton next presented to sick call on January 28, 2013 and was seen by defendant Bernard. (Doc. 74 ¶ 11). Hampton requested to sign up for "rehab gym." (Id.) Bernard advised Hampton that if his activity restrictions were lifted, his bottom bunk restriction and double pillow order would likely be discontinued. (Id.) Hampton did not want to change his housing accommodations, and his restrictions remained the same. (Id.) On April 17, 2013, medical staff issued Hampton his first back brace, with a review date of October 17, 2013. (Doc. 72 ¶ 5; Doc. 89 ¶ 5).

         On September 4, 2013, Hampton submitted a sick call for a replacement back brace and treated with defendant Koltay. (Doc. 74 ¶ 12). Hampton reported that the brace provided him with pain relief and that, with the brace, he had less need for NSAIDs. (Id.) After examination, Koltay ordered Hampton a new back brace. (Id.) Staff issued a replacement back brace to Hampton on September 18, 2013, with a reevaluation date of March 18, 2014. (Doc. 72 ¶ 6; Doc. 89 ¶ 6).

         On October 7, 2013, Hampton filed grievance number 480803, wherein he complained that his restrictions were not up to date in the prison computer. (Doc. 72 ¶ 7; Doc. 89 ¶ 7). Hampton requested that his restrictions be updated to include no repetitive motion so that his work supervisors would know which duties he was able to perform. (Id.) The grievance officer denied Hampton's initial grievance and found that the restrictions noted in the computer were correct and no doctor ever ordered "no repetitive motion" of the hands. (Doc. 72-1 at 347). Hampton appealed to the Facility Manager, seeking compensation for pain suffered "when forced to do things that cause [him] pain." (Doc. 72 ¶ 8; Doc. 89 ¶ 8; Doc. 72-1 at 346). The Facility Manager denied the appeal. (Doc. 72-1 at 345). The institution's findings were thereafter upheld on final review. (Doc. 72-1 at 342-44).

         On October 11, 2013, Hampton returned to sick call and was again seen by defendant Koltay. (Doc. 74 ¶ 13). Hampton requested a clarification regarding his medical restrictions. (Id.) He reported that corrections officers told him that he was not allowed to have carpal tunnel braces. (Id.) Hampton therefore wanted to have this equipment verified. (Id.) Koltay wrote an order with an instruction to "confirm [that] carpal tunnel braces are included in patient's equipment list." (Id.)

         On November 6, 2013, Hampton was seen by defendant Bernard in sick call. (Doc. 74 ¶ 14; see Doc. 72 ¶ 9; Doc. 89 ¶ 9; Doc. 72-1 at 72). Hampton complained that he was unhappy with his new back brace because it was not tight enough. (Doc. 74 ¶ 14). Upon examination, Bernard noted that Hampton was not wearing the brace correctly and instructed him how to use the brace properly. (Id.; see Doc. 72 ¶ 9; Doc. 89 ¶ 9; Doc. 72-1 at 72). Bernard noted that there was no need to replace the brace at that time. (Doc. 74 ¶ 14). Hampton contends that he was not wearing the brace incorrectly. (Doc. 89 ¶ 9). On November 19, 2013, defendant Koltay wrote a renewed instruction reminding the nurses to include the carpal tunnel braces and back brace in Hampton's equipment list. (Doc. 74 ¶ 15).

         Defendant Koltay next saw Hampton on January 21, 2014, for complaints of pain due to carpal tunnel syndrome. (Id. ¶ 16). Hampton stated that he recently started a new job involving repetitive movement. (Id.) He further stated that he was never issued carpal tunnel braces. (Id.) Hampton reported bilateral pain that was greater in his dominant right wrist. (Id.) Koltay noted no recent complaints of carpal tunnel syndrome and ordered a trial of wrist splints. (Id.; see Doc. 72 ¶ 10; Doc. 89 ¶ 10). Koltay also updated Hampton's medical restrictions to reflect that Hampton should avoid activities with repetitive motion. (Id.) On February 7, 2014, wrist splints were issued to Hampton, with a review date of August 7, 2014. (Doc. 72 ¶11; Doc. 89 ¶11).

         On February 18, 2014, Hampton was placed in the RHU at SCI-Rockview. (Doc. 72 ¶ 12; Doc. 89 ¶ 12). Prior to entering the RHU, Hampton was subjected to a strip search. (Doc. 72 ¶ 13; Doc. 89 ¶ 13). During the search, Hampton gave his back brace to correctional officer Montgomery under the supervision of Lieutenant Smith. (Doc. 72 ¶ 14; Doc. 89 ¶ 14). Defendant McHenry was not present for Hampton's search on February 18, 2014. (Doc. 72 ¶ 15; Doc. 78 ¶ 15). The parties dispute whether defendant McHenry was ever in possession of Hampton's back brace and wrist splints. (Doc. 72 ¶ 16; Doc. 78 ¶ 16). According to Hampton, his back and wrist braces were confiscated by prison staff pursuant to DOC policy. (See Doc. 74 ¶17).

         The parties agree that Hampton packed his own property in preparation for transfer to the State Correctional Institution at Benner ("SCI-Benner"). (Doc. 72 ¶ 17; Doc. 89 ¶ 17). On February 25, 2014, Hampton was transferred to the RHU at SCI-Benner and remained there until he was transferred back to SCI-Rockview on March 14, 2014. (Doc. 72 ¶ 18; Doc. 89 ¶ 18). Hampton's property was inventoried at SCI-Rockview on March 18, 2014. (Doc. 72 ¶ 19; Doc. 89 ¶ 19). Hampton contends that his belongings were sent to the property room because he refused to downsize his property within a time frame ordered by defendant McHenry. (Doc. 89 ¶ 19).

         Hampton first noticed that he did not have his back brace and wrist splints during the March 18, 2014 inventory. (Doc. 72 ¶ 20; Doc. 89 ¶ 20). He immediately filed grievance number 504282 complaining that McHenry had confiscated and destroyed his braces and failed to provide him with a notice of confiscation form. (Doc. 72 ¶ 21; Doc. 74 ¶ 18; Doc. 89 ¶ 21). Hampton also requested replacement braces. (Doc. 72 ¶ 21; Doc. 89 ¶ 21).

         The Department of Corrections ("DOC") received the grievance on April 4, 2014. (Doc. 72 ¶ 21; Doc. 89 ¶ 21). The Grievance Coordinator rejected same as untimely and for failure to provide required documentation. (Doc. 72 ¶ 22; Doc. 89 ¶ 22). Hampton appealed to the Facility Manager and then to the Secretary's Office of Inmate Grievances and Appeals, and both upheld the Grievance Coordinator's response. (Doc. 72 ¶ 23; Doc. 89 ¶ 23). The Facility Manager noted that Hampton failed to resubmit his appeal with proper documentation. (Doc. 72 ¶ 23). Hampton responds that he could not afford to make required copies. (Doc. 89 ¶ 23).

         Hampton failed to show up for sick call on March 20, 2014. (Doc. 72 ¶ 24; Doc. 89 ¶ 24). Hampton contends that he did not personally put in a sick call slip on this date; rather, a nurse submitted the call on his behalf after he suffered an asthma attack. (Doc. 89 ¶ 24). Hampton explains that he suffered an asthma attack, he was provided an inhaler which resolved his problem, and he was "fine." (Id.) Thus, Hampton did not show up for the scheduled sick call because he did not want to "waste the PA[']s time with an under control issue." (Id.)

         On May 8, 2014, Hampton reported to defendant Koltay that his medical equipment was confiscated when he was in the RHU. (Doc. 74 ¶ 19). Hampton requested a replacement back brace and wrist splints. (Doc. 72 ¶ 25; Doc. 89 ¶ 25). Koltay explained that, pursuant to DOC policy, she could not provide him with new braces unless he had a confiscation slip. (Doc. 74 ¶ 19). Koltay advised Hampton to contact the security office for a confiscated items receipt to obtain replacement braces. (Id.) Hampton states that this was not the first occasion that he requested a replacement for his back brace and wrist splints. (Doc. 89 ¶ 25).

         On May 19, 2014, Dr. Michael Ekizian wrote a progress note in response to Hampton's request for the return of his back brace. (Doc. 74 ¶ 20). Dr. Ekizian did not see Hampton but did review his chart. (Id.) His review indicated complaints of chronic lumbago and degenerative disc disease and that Hampton was taking NSAIDs. (Id.) Dr. Ekizian concluded that Hampton should "continue back brace for now." (Id.) He noted that Hampton's "significant [complaints of] back pain were out of proportion to [the] objective findings." (Id.)

         Dr. Ekizian evaluated Hampton on June 3, 2014 for complaints of lumbago. (Doc. 72 ¶ 26; Doc. 74 ¶ 21; Doc. 89 ¶ 26). Dr. Ekizian noted that Hampton did not want medication and was already using a back brace. (Doc. 74 ¶ 21). He observed that previous lumbar spine x-rays revealed only minimal findings of degenerative disc disease and that Hampton reported muscle spasms. (Id.) Dr. Ekizian ordered a back brace, prescribed Tylenol and NSAIDs, and recommended physical therapy. (Id.; see also Doc. 72 ¶ 26; Doc. 89 ¶ 26). Dr. Ekizian noted that Hampton's previous brace was confiscated during his transfer to the RHU. (Doc. 74 ¶ 21). Dr. Ekizian also submitted a consultation request for a physical therapy evaluation. (Id. ¶ 22). Therein, Dr. Ekizian explained that Hampton suffered from mild degenerative disc disease of the lumbosacral spine with muscle spasms and was using a back brace for chronic pain. (Id.) Dr. Ekizian's order was reviewed and approved for physical therapy the following day. (Doc. 72 ¶ 28). Hampton admits that he received the Tylenol and back brace ordered by Dr. Ekizian. (Doc. 89 ¶ 28). The parties dispute whether Hampton spoke to Dr. Ekizian about wrist pain or wrist splints during the June 3 visit. (Doc. 72 ¶ 27; Doc. 89 ¶ 27).

         On June 23, 2014, Hampton was seen by defendant Bernard for complaints of migraines. (Doc. 74 ¶ 23). Hampton requested that Bernard specially designate his Tylenol as "keep on person" in lieu of compelling Hampton to go to the pill line. (Id.) Bernard informed Hampton that, because he was on the D mental health roster, he was not permitted to have any medications as "keep on person" with the exception of inhalers. (Id.) The progress note does not indicate that Hampton requested a prescription for Tylenol or that Bernard instructed him to purchase Tylenol from the commissary. (Id.)

         Hampton was seen by Bernard for a refill of his inhalers on July 19, 2014, at which time he inquired about his back brace and wrist splints. (Doc. 72 ¶ 29; Doc. 74 ¶ 24; Doc. 89 ¶ 29). Hampton reported that he did not have his braces for a few months, and Bernard observed that Hampton had been without braces since May 2014. (Doc. 74 ¶ 24). The parties dispute whether Hampton told Bernard he was able to use a typewriter and write letters. (See Doc. 72 ¶ 30; Doc. 89 ¶ 30). Bernard advised Hampton that there was no indication for wrist splints and encouraged him to use Tylenol. (Doc. 72 ¶ 31; Doc. 74 ¶ 24; Doc. 89 ¶ 31). She noted that Hampton did not complain of symptoms related to carpal tunnel. (Doc. 74 ¶ 24). She also noted that a physical therapy consultation was pending and she would wait for the evaluation before making any determinations regarding a back brace. (Id.; see Doc. 72 ¶ 31; Doc. 89 ¶ 31). Hampton contends that Bernard discontinued his Tylenol prescription during this visit. (Doc. 89 ¶ 31).

         Hampton treated with a physical therapist on July 30, 2014. (Doc. 74 ¶ 25; see Doc. 72 ¶ 32; Doc. 89 ¶ 32). The physical therapist noted that Hampton experienced right lower back pain that sometimes traveled to the right scapular region. (Doc. 74 ¶ 25). Hampton reported suffering from this pain for twelve to thirteen years. (Id.) He did not report wrist pain during this visit. (Id.) No recommendation was made for back or wrist braces, and no follow-up was recommended. (Id.)

         The physical therapist also instructed Hampton about a low back flexibility program and provided him with a rehabilitative exercise program. (Id.; Doc. 72 ¶ 32; Doc. 89 ¶ 32). Hampton asserts that he was interested in "any" program that would help his back and wrist pain. (Doc. 89 ¶ 32). The order for the rehabilitative exercise program stated: "An inmate involved in this program may not participate in Varsity Sports, Intramural Activities, Indoor Weights, over 40 gym sessions or over 50 gym sessions." (Doc. 72 ¶ 33; Doc. 89 ¶ 33; Doc. 72-1 at 38).

         On September 22, 2014, defendant Koltay treated Hampton for complaints of bilateral wrist pain and headaches. (Doc. 72 34, Doc. 74 ¶ 26; Doc. 89 ¶ 34). She noted a history of carpal tunnel syndrome and that Hampton's symptoms were aggravated by recurrent, repetitive motion. (Doc. 74 ¶ 26). Hampton reported no relief from non-aspirin medication available at commissary. (Id.) Koltay issued an order for bilateral wrist splits and a trial of Tegretol for pain relief. (Id.; Doc. 72 ¶ 34; Doc. 89 ¶ 34). Koltay otherwise continued Hampton's current restrictions and advised him to follow-up as needed. (Doc. 72 ¶ 34; Doc. 89 ¶ 34). Hampton would continue taking Tegretol through June 3, 2015. (Doc. 74 ¶ 26).

         Hampton again treated with defendant Koltay for complaints of headaches on October 20, 2014. (Id. ¶ 27). He did not report any other pain to Koltay at that time. (Id.) Koltay continued Hampton's Tegretol prescription for pain. (Id.) On December 3, 2014, defendant Bernard advised Hampton to treat his headaches with Tylenol, which he could obtain from the commissary. (IcL ¶ 28).

         On February 26, 2015, Hampton saw PA Hans Reisinger for complaints of headaches. (Doc. 72 ¶ 35; Doc. 89 ¶ 35; Doc. 72-1 at 45; see Doc. 74 ¶ 29). Hampton requested a review of his restrictions and documentation of the wrist and back brace orders from the medical department. (Doc. 72 ¶ 35; Doc. 89 ¶ 35). Hampton reported that he was taking Tegretol and Tylenol for his headaches, and Reisinger added Excedrin PM to his regimen. (Doc. 74 ¶ 29). The February 26, 2015 visit was the first time Hampton was seen in medical for back complaints since July 30, 2014. (Doc. 72 ¶ 36; Doc. 89 ¶ 36).

         On April 19, 2015, Hampton submitted an Inmate Request to Staff Form requesting treatment for back and wrist issues. (Doc. 72 ¶ 37; Doc. 89 ¶ 37). In response, Hampton was scheduled to see Dr. Philip Scaglione, with whom he treated on April 27, 2015. (Doc. 72 ¶ 39; Doc. 89 ¶ 39). Dr. Scaglione ordered a lumbosacral brace, a double mattress and ...

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