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Eddowes v. Garman

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

July 3, 2019

SHANE EDDOWES, Plaintiff,
v.
MARK GARMAN, et al., Defendants.

          Caputo Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Martin C. Carlson United States Magistrate Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Shane Eddowes, the pro se plaintiff, is an inmate in the custody of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (“DOC”) and is currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Somerset (“SCI-Somerset”). Eddowes was previously incarcerated at SCI-Rockview and brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against a host of DOC officials from Rockview, including correctional, medical, and pharmacy personnel, alleging that he either did not receive medication he takes for seizure disorder, or that he received a placebo in place of his actual medication, in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Many defendants have been dismissed from this action, and the remaining defendants have moved for summary judgement, arguing that Eddowes was, in fact, receiving his seizure medication from the Rockview medical staff, and accordingly, there has been no constitutional violation.

         After review of the record, we find that the defendants have demonstrated that there is no genuine issue of material fact in this case, as Eddowes was receiving the medication that he claims was being withheld or altered. Accordingly, for the reasons set forth below, we will recommend that the defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Shane Eddowes is currently incarcerated at SCI-Somerset in the Pennsylvania DOC; however, Eddowes' complaint consists of allegations that arose while he was incarcerated at SCI-Rockview. He contends that, while he was incarcerated at Rockview, the medical staff and correctional officers did not give him his prescribed medication, Klonopin, for his seizure disorder. (Doc. 35, at 3).[1] He alleges that his medication was either withheld entirely, or that the staff at Rockview gave him an “adulterated placebo” in place of his Klonopin. (Id.)

         Since at least December 2014, Eddowes has been prescribed Klonopin to treat seizures and schizophrenia. (Doc. 73-2, at 6). The DOC uses an Electronic Medication Administration Record (“EMAR”) to monitor the distribution of medications in its facilities. (Doc. 73-1, at 3) When an inmate is prescribed medication, it is entered into EMAR, assigned to the inmate through EMAR, and assigned a barcode in the system. (Id.) At the time medications are distributed, medical staff scan the inmate's identification, review all prescriptions, and scan each medication an inmate will be administered at that time. (Id.) Sapphire is a report the EMAR system creates to show when inmates were administered specific medication. (Id.)

         Eddowes has been prescribed this medication by both medical staff and psychiatric staff at Rockview. (Doc. 73-2, at 13, 44). For the most part, Eddowes has been receiving two milligrams of a generic substitute, Clonazepam, twice daily. (Id., at 3). There was a lapse of time when Eddowes did not take his prescribed medication regularly. Eddowes did not take his medication from May 31, 2015 until June 4, 2015 at 6:30 p.m., when he was administered Klonopin regularly once again. (Id., at 13, 17).

         In December 2015, April 2016, August 2016, June 2017, and July 2018, Eddowes completed bloodwork to determine the levels of Klonopin in his system. (Id., at 96-106). Each exam resulted in Clonazepam being found in his blood stream within normal limits.[2] Id. Despite taking Klonopin and having the medication in his system, Eddowes suffered two seizures, one on June 22, 2017, and the other on August 24, 2017. (Doc. 70, at 2).

         Although medical records from Rockview indicate that Eddowes has been taking his Klonopin since 2015, (see generally Doc. 73-2), Eddowes disputes that there is no Benzodiazepine in his system which means he is not taking Klonopin as prescribed, and he relies on urine analysis testing that he has been subjected to over the years. (Doc. 76, at 18, 20). However, the defendants have rebutted this assertion through the declaration of Jeremy Portzline, a correctional officer in the Security Office at Rockview, whose main duties includes collecting urine samples, which asserts that drugs only register on urine tests when drug levels are over a certain limit. (Doc. 77-1, at 3). The test would yield a positive result only if Eddowes had 300 ng/mL in his system, a blood level well beyond the therapeutic levels prescribed for Eddowes. (Id.)

         Eddowes filed multiple grievances and appeals related to his medication and treatment, including allegations that: his medications were both stolen and changed to a different medication; that there was medical fraud and a failure to investigate by prison staff; he was being given Tegratol instead of Klonopin; and his medications did not contain Klonopin and were contaminated, adulterated, and replaced with a placebo.[3] Eddowes further contends the defendants failed to conduct proper investigations into his claims and were working together to make sure the truth did not come to light.[4] However, records show that each time Eddowes filed a grievance, it was investigated by prison staff, deemed unfounded, and findings were confirmed by another prison staff member.[5] The results of these investigations indicated that there were no discrepancies in medication inventories, that the manufacturer of Klonopin had changed the color of the medication which SCI-Rockview received, that DOC policies mandate that the medication Eddowes was receiving be crushed into water, and that recent blood tests verified there were correct amounts of Klonopin in Eddowes' system.

         Eddowes initiated this action by filing a complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County on October 25, 2017, naming 22 institutions and individual defendants and charging them with violating his civil rights. (Doc 1, at 2). The defendants removed the action to this Court on January 17 and 25, 2018. (Docs. 1, 2). Eddowes' Eighth Amendment claim against the defendants is based upon the allegation that he was administered an anti-seizure medication, Klonopin, which did not contain Clonazepam as an active ingredient (Doc 1-1, at 8). Further, he claims that the defendants failed to investigate the grievances he filed concerning his medication. (Id., at 9-10).

         On January 26, 2018, defendants Garman, Houser, McMahon, Probst, Williams, Ruggerio, Butler, Ranio, Stabley, Chamberlin, Swanger, Campbell, Silva, Drum, and Vance filed a motion to dismiss. (Doc. 6). Defendants Henry and Denning filed a motion to dismiss on February 15, 2018. (Doc. 15). Subsequently, on February 16, 2018, Eddowes moved for leave to amend the complaint because he intended to drop a claim against one of the defendants while also adding more defendants. (Doc. 16). On February 23, this Court ordered Eddowes to respond to the motion to dismiss submitted on January 26, (Doc. 17), but granted his motion to amend his complaint on March 2, 2018. (Doc. 20).

         After a series of motions to dismiss filed by various defendants in this case, this Court adopted the Reports and Recommendations of the undersigned and dismissed the plaintiff's claims against the defendants-three were dismissed with prejudice, and the rest were dismissed without prejudice with instructions for the plaintiff to file an amended complaint against those defendants. (Doc. 33). On June 4, 2018, Eddowes filed an amended complaint against those defendants. (Doc. 35). On June 18, 2018 Defendants Henry and Denning filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint, which was granted on August 16. (Docs. 38, 43).

         On April 8, 2019, the remaining defendants in this case filed the instant motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 71). The defendants assert that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law because Eddowes has been receiving his medication and because the prison officials have responded to his grievances. (Doc 72, at 13-16). Further, the defendants contend they are entitled to qualified immunity. (Id.) Eddowes filed a response on June 5, 2019, reiterating his allegations against the defendants that he either did not receive the prescribed medication that treats his seizure disorder, or that he has received a placebo in place of his actual medication, in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Doc. 76). The defendants filed a timely response on June 13, 2019, (Doc. 77), and thus the motion is ripe for resolution.

         After a review of the record, we conclude that there is no genuine dispute of material fact, as Eddowes has been receiving his seizure medication that he was prescribed at Rockview. Thus, we will recommend that the defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted.

         III. STAN ...


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