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Negron v. Bickell

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

April 12, 2017

TABB BICKELL, et al., Defendants


          Christopher C. Conner, Chief Judge United States District Court

         On June 11, 2013, plaintiff Nathanael Negron ("Negron"), an inmate formerly housed at the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Huntingdon"), commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). The remaining defendants are Correctional Officers Everling, Kissell and Dunkle (collectively, "defendants").[1] Before the court is the defendants' motion (Doc. 99) for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. The court will grant the motion.

         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. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The burden of proof is upon 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); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (e). 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]

         On June 11, 2013, Negron initiated this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). The only remaining claims are Eighth Amendment medical deliberate indifference claims against defendants Everling, Kissell, and Dunkle.

         On September 3, 2011, Negron injured his left ankle after engaging in a fight with another inmate and attempting to hit a correctional officer. (Doc. 101 ¶ 29; Doc. 106 ¶ 29). After the fight, Negron was transferred to the RHU. (Doc. 101 ¶ 30; Doc. 106 ¶ 30). On September 3, 2011, Nurse Harker, the on-duty nurse, examined Negron's ankle. (Doc. 101 ¶ 31; see Doc. 106 ¶ 31). Nurse Harker gave Negron an ace bandage to wrap his ankle and advised him to keep it elevated. (Doc. 101 ¶ 31; Doc. 106 ¶ 31). Negron rejoins that "looking at the injury and taking notes" does not amount to treatment. (Doc. 106 ¶ 31).

         The parties dispute whether Negron treated with Physician Assistant Riscigno ("PA Riscigno") in the urgent care unit of SCI-Huntingdon on September 4, 2011. (See Doc. 101 ¶ 32; Doc. 106 ¶ 32). They agree that Nurse Harker examined Negron's ankle on September 4, 2011, that she noted bruising and swelling, and that she told Negron to keep his ankle elevated. (Doc. 101 ¶ 33; Doc. 106 ¶ 33). Negron disputes whether such examination constitutes "treatment." (Doc. 106 ¶ 33). Also on September 4, 2011, Dr. Luis Areneda wrote Negron a prescription for Motrin for seven days. (Doc. 101 ¶ 34). Negron does not recall receiving Motrin. (Doc. 106 ¶34).

         On September 5, 2011, PA Riscigno treated Negron and recommended that he undergo an x-ray of his left ankle. (Doc. 101 ¶ 35; Doc. 106 ¶ 35). Negron was given a three-day prescription for Tylenol-3 that same day. (Doc. 101 ¶ 36; Doc. 106 ¶ 36). Negron avers that he was never given an ice pack for his ankle, and he was forced to hop on one foot to place his foot through the food slot of his cell for PA Riscigno to examine him. (Doc. 106 ¶ 36). Negron underwent an x-ray one day later, on September 6, 2011. (Doc. 101 ¶ 38; Doc. 106 ¶ 38). The x-ray revealed that his left ankle was not broken. (Doc. 101 ¶ 38; Doc. 106 ¶ 38).

         Defendants contend that Negron was offered medical attention on September 14, 2011, but he refused any medical care. (Doc. 101 ¶ 39; Doc. 103-9). Negron remonstrates that the Medical Release Form refusing care "may have been 'doctored' and/or altered." (Doc. 106 ¶ 39). PA Riscigno examined Negron again on October 3, 2011, (Doc. 101 ¶ 40; Doc. 106 ¶ 40), at which time she prescribed an anti-inflammatory drug, Naproxen. (Doc. 106 ¶ 40; see also Doc. 1 at 7-8 ¶¶ 47-48).

         During the relevant time frame, Negron had access to guards every half hour, as well as nurses and other medical personnel throughout the day. (Doc. 101 ¶ 41; Doc. 106 ¶ 41). He contends that their presence "was of little consequence." (Doc. 106 ¶ 41). Negron testified that he harbored no "ill will" toward Everling, Kissell or Dunkle, and he did not perceive any "ill will" from them. (Doc. 101 ¶ 44; Doc. 106 ¶44).

         From September 2011 to October 2011, Negron successfully submitted other documents, including grievance documents and letters to his family, in the same manner he would have submitted medical request forms. (Doc. 101 ¶ 45; Doc. 106 ¶ 45). Negron had access to medical slips, and completed two slips seeking medical care. (Doc. 101 ¶ 42; see Doc. 106 ¶ 42). Negron states that he received the medical slips from other inmates. (Doc. 106 ¶ 42). Negron does not know which correctional officers collected his sick call request forms for processing. (Doc. 101 ¶ 43; Doc. 106 ¶43).

         The Department of Corrections ("DOC") has an Inmate Grievance System through which inmates can seek formal review of issues relating to any aspect of their confinement. (Doc. 101 ¶¶ 7-16; Doc. 106 ¶¶ 7-16). Kerri Moore is employed as the Assistant Chief of the Secretary's Office of Inmate Grievances and Appeals, and her responsibilities include reviewing and tracking all grievances filed and taken to final review. (Doc. 101 ¶ 17).

         According to Moore's review of the DOC's Inmate Grievance Tracking System, Negron submitted only one grievance relating to the medical care for his injured ankle, grievance number 384097. (Id. ¶ 20). On October 2, 2011, Negron filed grievance number 384097 alleging that several individuals at SCI-Huntingdon ignored his requests for medical attention for his injured ankle. (Doc. 101 ¶ 21; Doc. 106 ¶ 21). The initial grievance was denied. (Doc. 101 ¶ 23). Negron appealed the grievance to final review, where the institution's findings were upheld. (Id. ¶ 24). Grievance number 384097 does not identify defendants Everling or Kissell. (Id. ¶ 25). According to Negron, his reference in the grievance to "C.O.'s and Guards" includes Everling and Kissell. (Doc. 106 ¶ 25). The grievance mentions defendant Dunkle, but does not attribute any specific behavior to him. (Doc. 101 ¶ ...

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