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Pilinski v. Goodwin

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

April 23, 2015



MARK L. HORNSBY, Magistrate Judge.


John Wesley Pilinski, Sr. ("Plaintiff") is a self-represented prisoner housed at the David Wade Correctional Center. He filed this action against prison physicians Pamela Hearn and Bruce Fuller, as well as several administrative and supervisory officials, to complain of medical care he received at the prison in 2011 and 2012. Defendants have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 25) that attacks the merits of Plaintiff's claims. Plaintiff has filed a Motion for TRO or Preliminary Injunction (Doc. 23). It is recommended that Plaintiff's motion be denied, that Defendants' motion be granted in part by dismissing all defendants except Dr. Fuller.

Eighth Amendment; Inmate Medical Care

For a convicted prisoner to prevail on a claim that his medical care (or lack of care) violated the Constitution, he must prove that prison or jail officials were "deliberately indifferent" to his "serious medical needs." Estelle v. Gamble, 97 S.Ct. 285, 291 (1976); Hare v. City of Corinth, 74 F.3d 633, 643 (5th Cir. 1996) (en banc). Deliberate indifference encompasses only unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain repugnant to the conscience of mankind. Estelle, 97 S.Ct. at 291-92. Disagreement with the diagnostic measures or methods of treatment afforded by prison officials does not state a constitutional claim for indifference to medical needs. Norton v. Dimazana, 122 F.3d 286, 292 (5th Cir. 1997).

Plaintiff's Allegations

Plaintiff's medical records show that he suffered a gunshot wound in 1991. He reported that he was cleaning a.22 caliber weapon when it accidentally discharged into his right thigh, which created a single through and through wound. Plaintiff alleges in his complaint that he never made a full recovery and continues to suffer from substantial pain, muscle cramps, and problems related to the wound. He also alleges that he was shot in the back of the neck in 1993.

Plaintiff arrived at David Wade in March 2011 and soon made sick call due to complaints of chronic and substantial pain and muscle cramps due to the gunshot wound from 10 years earlier. Plaintiff was evaluated by prison physician Dr. Pamela Hearn, but she did not believe Plaintiff's complaints and refused to prescribe the Neurontin, Ultram, or similar medication that Plaintiff said he had been prescribed for many years. Hearn did request medical records from LSU, where Plaintiff had been treated for the gunshot wounds.

Plaintiff made sick call again two months later and was seen by prison physician Dr. Bruce Fuller. Plaintiff complained that he was in substantial pain and suffering muscle cramps, and he needed to stay off of his foot rather than be forced to walk excessively. Plaintiff alleges that Fuller denied him "adequate medication, " did not order limited duty status related to walking and standing, and did not direct that he be provided adequate footwear. Plaintiff alleges that a nurse practitioner later reviewed his records and determined that Plaintiff needed Neurontin, but Plaintiff was denied any medical treatment after a later doctor visit.

Plaintiff then filed an administrative remedy procedure grievance for denial of adequate medication. Relief was denied in a response prepared by Assistant Warden Angie Huff and Medical Director Paula Millwee. The response stated that Dr. Fuller had evaluated Plaintiff in June 2011 for right foot problems and right side pain. He documented Plaintiff's history of a gunshot wound and history of foot drop and numbness. He found no distinct muscle deficits and ordered that Plaintiff have a duty status for limited walk for no more than one-tenth of a mile. The orthopedic clinic was also consulted, and an appointment date was obtained. The grievance response stated that the clinic would give recommendations, and the problem would continue to be appropriately addressed.

Plaintiff alleges that he was sent to E. A. Conway Hospital in Monroe in September 2011 to be evaluated by an orthopedic specialist. Plaintiff contends the doctor prescribed Neurontin, but Dr. Hearn refused to provide the medication and told Plaintiff that the prison did not prescribe Neurontin or any of the other medication Plaintiff said was effective for his condition. Plaintiff alleges that this statement is untrue because other inmates receive such medications.

Plaintiff alleges that he made several more sick calls and was again evaluated by Dr. Fuller in January 2012. Plaintiff requested the medication Mobic and was denied. Dr. Fuller did prescribe Elavil, but Plaintiff complains that it does not help with his condition. Plaintiff was returned to the E. A. Conway Hospital in February 2012, where the same orthopedic specialist allegedly asked Plaintiff how the medication he recommended was helping. Plaintiff alleges that he told the physician that he was being denied the medication and given Elavil instead. Plaintiff states that the orthopedic physician was upset at this news, as well as that Plaintiff was not receiving proper footwear. The physician wrote a prescription to allow family members to send Plaintiff footwear and wrote "please" on the bottom of the prescription. Plaintiff made sick call at David Wade again on February 25, 2012 but did not receive the medication he wanted.

Attached to the complaint is an indication that Plaintiff filed another grievance dated February 27, 2012. Millwee and Huff again responded. They stated that physicians at the prison seek the opinion of outside specialty clinic physicians for consultation purposes and to recommend treatment, but the prison physician is the primary care physician and is controlling in determining healthcare that is provided. All recommendations by the E. A. Conway Hospital consultant were reviewed by prison physicians, and then "appropriate orders [were] given." The response stated that Plaintiff had been examined on multiple occasions by prison physicians and given appropriate medical attention each time. It also noted that Plaintiff had "refused various medications" ordered by the physicians.

Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Fuller later decreased his Elavil and denied a request that Plaintiff's family be allowed to send orthopedic footwear, even though other inmates were allowed that privilege. Plaintiff alleges that he returned to E. A. Conway in April 2012 but, as of May 2012, he had not yet received appropriate medication. He complains of his care at the hands of Drs. Fuller and Hearn, and he ...

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