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Brown v. Murphy

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

October 19, 2017

DONALD P. BROWN, SR., Plaintiff,
KAREN MURPHY, Defendant.


          STENGEL, C.J.


         Plaintiff, Donald P. Brown, Sr., brings this prisoner civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the defendant, Karen Murphy, acted with deliberate indifference to his medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Because there are no genuine issues of material fact and the plaintiff has not put forth evidence sufficient for a reasonable jury to reach a verdict in his favor, I will grant the defendant's motion for summary judgment. This ruling renders moot the defendant's motion to compel and the plaintiff's requests for counsel and request for an extension of time to obtain counsel.[1] Since I have previously dismissed the claims against all other defendants, this case is now closed.


         Mr. Brown fell from the top bunk of his bed at Chester County Prison on June 15, 2015[2] and sustained injuries, including “a concussion, sprained neck and shoulder as well as the loss of two teeth and blood.” (Pl.'s Am. Compl. 1, Doc. No. 5.) He was transported to Chester County Hospital for treatment. (Id.) At an unspecified time after his return to prison from the hospital, Mr. Brown claims that he requested medication from the defendant, who worked as a prison nurse, but that she did not assist him. (Id. at 3.) Mr. Brown asserts that Ms. Murphy's inaction demonstrates deliberate indifference in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. (Id. at 3-4.)

         At the time of her alleged indifference, the defendant was a nurse employed by PrimeCare, a prison medical services contractor. (Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. ¶¶ 3-4, Doc. No. 35.) In her motion for summary judgment, Ms. Murphy states that she “had no interactions with Plaintiff” and bore no responsibilities for his medical care during the relevant time period. (Id. at ¶¶ 5, 69.)

         Ms. Murphy avers that a physician's assistant at the prison assessed Mr. Brown upon his return from the hospital on the same day he suffered his injuries. (Id. at ¶¶ 22- 23 (referencing Ex. D).) During this examination, according to prison medical records provided by the defendant, Mr. Brown complained of minimal pain. He had full range of motion, and the physician's assistant rated his strength as a 4 out of 5. (Id. at ¶ 23 (referencing Ex. D).) The physician's assistant ordered Ibuprofen. (Id. at Ex. D.)

         Defendant Murphy additionally produced PrimeCare records of Mr. Brown's sick call requests between June 15, 2015 (the date of the incident) and his Sept.17, 2015 release from prison. (Id. at ¶ 27 (referencing Ex. H).) These sick call requests include: Mr. Brown's June 16 complaint of headache and right shoulder pain; a June 28 complaint of headache and neck and shoulder pain; a July 11 complaint of a broken tooth; a July 12 complaint of neck and shoulder pain; an Aug. 15 complaint of neck and right shoulder pain and headaches; an Aug. 24 headache complaint; a Sept. 2 complaint of neck problems; a Sept. 10 complaint of a bump on his head; and a Sept. 15 headache complaint. (Id. at Ex. H.) All sick call requests were marked as “tasked and triaged” by medical staff. (Id.) Other defense exhibits provide more detailed notations by medical caretakers regarding Mr. Brown's condition and the medical care provided to him on at least eight occasions within the three month period after his fall from the top bunk. (Id. at Exs. G, K.) These records collectively show that the plaintiff received extensive medical care for his injuries after returning to prison from the hospital.

         Additionally, the defendant states that in the course of the plaintiff's medical care, “Nurse Murphy did not have any interaction with Plaintiff and was not tasked with providing Plaintiff care or treatment as it relates to his alleged injury.” (Id. at ¶ 54.) Mr. Brown does not provide any evidence to the contrary.

         In the records provided by Ms. Murphy, her name is referenced only one time-on a medical records request dated July 28, 2015, in which the plaintiff stated that he previously made “numerous” such requests for his records. (Id. at ¶ 55, Ex. I.) Ms. Murphy states that after his records request, the plaintiff was given a memorandum, (Id. at Ex. I), outlining the procedure for prisoners to obtain medical records and noting that requests should not “go to Karen Murphy and/or any other staff member in the medical department.” (Id. at ¶ 54, Ex. I.)

         The Plaintiff initiated the present action by filing a complaint against Chester County Prison, Terence Farrell, Edward McFadden, Morgan Taylor, Karen Murphy, and PrimeCare Medical, Inc. on June 27, 2016 (Doc. No. 4), followed by an amended complaint on Aug. 1, 2016 (Doc. No. 5). On Aug. 15, 2016, I dismissed any claims against Chester County Prison. (Doc. No. 6.) On Mar. 30, 2017, I dismissed with prejudice the claims against Terence Farrell, Edward McFadden, and Morgan Taylor, dismissed without prejudice the claims against PrimeCare Medical, Inc., and denied Defendant Murphy's motion to dismiss, leaving her as the sole remaining defendant in this case. (Doc. No. 28.)

         On July 21, 2017, the defendant filed her motion for summary judgment. (Doc. No. 35.) On Sept. 19, 2017, she filed a motion to compel, stating that the plaintiff failed to respond to multiple requests for information, including requests for him to authorize his medical providers to release his records. (Doc. No. 37.) On July 5, 2017 and Sept. 13, 2017, the plaintiff filed requests for counsel (Doc. Nos. 33, 36), though he remained on the Prisoner Civil Rights Panel during that period of time. And on Oct. 5, 2017, the plaintiff filed a request for an extension of time to obtain counsel (Doc. No. 39).


         A court shall grant summary judgment where “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is “material” if it would affect the outcome of the case under applicable law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A disputed issue is “genuine” if it would allow a reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict in favor of the nonmoving party. Id. Summary judgment is appropriate when the nonmoving party fails to provide evidence “sufficient to establish the existence of an ...

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