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Gray v. Sorrels

United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma

September 27, 2017

PATRICIA SORRELS, et al., Defendants.


          Ronald A. White, United States District Judge.

         This action is before the Court on Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's amended civil rights complaint. The Court has before it for consideration Plaintiff's amended complaint (Dkt. 60), Defendants' motion (Dkt. 64), and Plaintiff's response (Dkt. 75).

         Plaintiff, an inmate in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC) who is incarcerated at Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville, Oklahoma, brings this action under the authority of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking relief for alleged constitutional violations during his incarceration at Oklahoma State Penitentiary (“OSP”) in McAlester, Oklahoma. The defendants are Patricia Sorrels, OSP Health Services Administrator; David Marlar, OSP Resident Physician; Buddy Honaker, DOC Medical Services Administrator; James Howard, OSP Resident Psychiatrist; Susan Shields, OSP Psychologist; Patricia Stem, DOC Eastern Regional Mental Health Coordinator; William Taylor, OSP Mental Health Unit Manager; Nancy Coppel, OSP L.P.N.; Amber Robinson, OSP L.P.N.; Alicia Scull, OSP L.P.N., and Buster Harris, OSP Correctional Officer.

         Medical Claim Concerning Plaintiff's Knees

         Plaintiff alleges that during the morning “pill pass” on June 22, 2015, he advised the attending nurse on duty that his knees were swollen and causing him severe pain. The nurse observed Plaintiff's knees and advised him to submit a “sick-call” or Heath Services Form.

         Plaintiff alleges he stated in his June 22, 2015, sick-call that “I need my knee (sic) looked at again. It (sic) is (sic) swollen and throbbing with pain” (Dkt. 60 at 3). Plaintiff asserts his knees still were swollen and very painful when he was triaged by Defendant Coppel. Coppel, however, did not provide Plaintiff with anything for his symptoms. He claims Coppel's deliberate indifference to his medical problems resulted in more pain and a lasting injury.

         The pain was so “severe and unrelenting” that Plaintiff could not sleep well, and at times he could not get out of bed from his top bunk assignment. Therefore, he submitted the second of many sick-call slips on July 8, 2015, stating, “I was triaged for my swollen and painful knees on June 28th, 2015. I am still having the same issues. I need Tylonol (sic) for pain and something for the fluid on my knees” (Dkt. 60 at 3). The triage nurse observed his knees on July 8, 2015, and allegedly said, “You need an X-ray those look bad” (Dkt. 60 at 4). Plaintiff, however, received no pain relief.

         On August 3, 2015, Plaintiff submitted his third sick-call after receiving no pain treatment in the first and second triages. His sick-call stated his swollen and painful knees still had not been examined. He again requested Tylenol, X-rays, and treatment for fluid on his knees. Because he allegedly was not triaged for the third sick-call, Plaintiff submitted a Request to Staff (RTS) to Defendant Patricia Sorrels, Health Services Supervisor, on August 10, 2015. The RTS stated he needed an X-ray, treatment, and pain relief. Plaintiff alleges he subsequently submitted numerous additional RTSs and grievances, but he did not receive the requested X-ray, pain relief, and other treatment or “amenity” to prevent further damage to his knees.

         On July 5, 2016, Dr. Gonzago, the facility physician at Lawton Correctional Facility, provided Plaintiff a prescription for Naproxin for pain relief. Plaintiff claims he mistakenly believed Naproxin was a “serious prescription pain medication, ” but he subsequently learned it was only a prescription for Advil. The medication did not relieve his pain, and the pain caused him uncontrollable gnashing of his teeth which resulted in chipped and broken teeth.

         Plaintiff complains that Defendants Marlar, Robinson, Coppel, Scull, and Sorrels were responsible for the denial of pain relief for approximately 79 days until Plaintiff received the Advil. This delay also allegedly resulted in further damage to Plaintiff's left knee. When he was reevaluated on December 7, 2015, in the hypertension chronic care clinic, Defendant Dr. Marlar prescribed something “more serious” for the pain, along with a brace to allow the meniscus tendon to heal properly. Plaintiff returned to Dr. Marlar on January 8, 2016. Dr. Marler then advised Plaintiff that there was a spending freeze, and Plaintiff could not be provided with a knee brace. Plaintiff maintains the delays and denials of treatment for his knees amounted to cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.

         Plaintiff further alleges he is a black male, and while going through the grievance process, he discovered that three of his “Caucasian counterparts” were being seen by Defendant Nurses Coppel, Robinson, and Scull. Furthermore, the “counterparts” received pain relief the first day they complained of pain. Plaintiff asserts the denial of pain relief for him violated his right of equal protection to be free from pain and suffering. Plaintiff further claims Defendants Sorrels and Honaker have shuffled and forged paperwork to take advantage of him, because he is incarcerated and unable to seek medical treatment from a provider of his choosing.

         Altercation with Cellmate and Plaintiff's Resulting Injuries

         Plaintiff resumed sharing a cell with his former cellmate Gail Daetwiler on June 13, 2014. The two men previously were separated because Daetwiler refused to take his psychotropic medications in protest of Dr. Janna Morgan's not allowing them to transfer to a lower security level as she had promised. Defendants William Taylor and Patricia Stem advised Plaintiff and Daetwiler that if either of them stopped taking his medication, they immediately would be separated again.

         On or around August 4-6, 2015, Dr. James Howard discontinued Daetwiler's psychotropic prescriptions, because Daetwiler had refused to meet with Dr. Howard. When Daetwiler was advised of this change on the morning of August 10, 2015, he immediately “began to throw a tantrum.” Plaintiff advised the staff that if Daetwiler's psychotropic medications were not resumed, Plaintiff and Daetwiler would need to be separated for Plaintiff's safety. Plaintiff claims that while they were waiting for Daetwiler to receive his medication, Defendants Scull and Robinson said that “Defendants Scull and Stem were sending schathing (sic) e-mails to Defendant Howard as well as Defendant Shields sending e-mails to Defendant Howard also” (Dkt. 60 at 6).

         On the morning of August 14, 2015, the Certified Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) arrived in Plaintiff's unit for an institution-wide search of each cell for contraband. Despite not finding any contraband, the C.E.R.T. officers allegedly trashed all ten cells on the top tier, including Plaintiff and Daetwiler's cell. Plaintiff argues this damage to the cells violated Article 2 § 30 of the Oklahoma Constitution, the Fourth and ...

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