United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
BYRON T. WATSON, Plaintiff,
CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
A. WHITE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
action is before the Court on Defendants' motion for
summary judgment. The Court has before it for consideration
Plaintiff's second amended complaint (Dkt. 59),
Defendants' motion (Dkt. 84), and Plaintiff's
response to the motion (Dkt. 94).
is a pro se prisoner in the custody of the Oklahoma
Department of Corrections who is incarcerated at Oklahoma
State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma. He brings this
action under the authority of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking
relief for alleged constitutional violations during his
incarceration at Davis Correctional Facility
(“DCF”), a private prison located in Holdenville,
Oklahoma. The defendants are Corrections Corporation of
America and the following DCF officials: Warden Wilkinson;
James Sanford, R.N.; Anna Newton, L.P.N.; Cynthia McGehee,
R.N.; Ray Larimer, R.N., DCF Clinical Supervisor; and
Correctional Officer E. Wornell. Defendants Kathy Miller and
Dr. Mark Reiheld previously were dismissed from this action
alleges that on Friday, February 22, 2013, he experienced
sudden pain in his testicles and lower stomach and throughout
the joints in his body. He complained to his correctional
counselor who called the facility's medical clinic while
Plaintiff lay on his cell floor in the fetal position.
Because he was unable to walk unassisted, Plaintiff was taken
in a wheelchair to the clinic where he had contact with
Defendants Nurse Sanford and DCF Clinical Supervisor
Larimer. Plaintiff told Sanford and Darius Butler,
an inmate orderly, that he had pain which had started as
“blue balls” but had gotten worse. Sanford and
Butler laughed at him. (Dkt. 59 at 2, 9; Dkt. 94 at 2;
Plaintiff's Deposition, Dkt. 94 at 43, p. 70).
asked Plaintiff some questions, but did not perform a
physical examination. Sanford then gave Plaintiff an
injection and placed him in a medical holding cell for five
or more hours to await the doctor. Plaintiff vomited twice in
the cell, and Defendant Correctional Officer E. Wornell and
the orderly cleaned it up. Plaintiff asserts he was left
screaming in pain, in the fetal position on the floor, and no
one came to check on him until the next nursing shift. (Dkt.
59 at 2-4, 9; Dkt. 94 at 2-3, 11, 19; Plaintiff's
Deposition, Dkt. 94 at 31, p.43).
the next nursing shift started, Plaintiff asked Defendant
Nurse Anna Newton why the doctor had not come to see him.
Newton allegedly told Plaintiff she had forgotten about him
and that the doctor already had been there and left. Newton
advised that no doctor would be there over the weekend and
sent Plaintiff back to his pod in pain. Plaintiff alleges he
was in pain throughout the weekend and complained to the pod
officer. He was told that nothing could be done, because no
doctor was there on the weekend. (Dkt. 59 at 4, 10; Dkt. 94
at 3-4; Plaintiff's Deposition, Dkt. 94 at 31, p. 44-45).
Monday, February 25, Plaintiff again experienced pain in his
testicles and lower stomach, with pain in all his joints. His
correctional counselor called the medical clinic, and
Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Nurse Cynthia McGehee. When
he walked into the medical area, Nurses Sanford, McGehee, and
Larimer were “fussing” about Plaintiff's
complaints and his having been seen at the clinic on Friday.
Plaintiff told McGehee he was in pain, and one of his
testicles was larger than the other. McGehee said she was
“not looking at him down there.” Instead of
having a physical examination, a sample of Plaintiff's
urine was taken, and he was sent back to his cell without
treatment. McGehee also gave him ibuprofen. (Dkt. 59 at 4,
10; Dkt. 94 at 4-5, 22).
next day, Tuesday, February 26, Plaintiff complained to the
correctional counselor on his pod. The medical staff advised
the correctional counselor that no doctor was available.
(Dkt. 59 at 11; Dkt. 94 at 5).
Wednesday, February 27, Plaintiff again complained about his
pain and was seen by medical staff. He alleges Defendants
Sanford and Larimer “fussed” at him again, and
Plaintiff assumed they were not taking his medical problem
seriously. He was placed in a medical observation cell and
examined by Dr. Mark Reiheld about an hour later. Dr. Reiheld
diagnosed Plaintiff with possible testicular torsion and had
him transferred to Holdenville General Hospital. At the
hospital, Plaintiff was given a prescription and instructed
to return the next day for an ultrasound diagnosis. (Dkt. 59
at 4, 11; Dkt. 94 at 5-6).
Thursday, February 28, Plaintiff returned to Holdenville
General Hospital for the ultrasound. The physician at the
hospital diagnosed him with testicular torsion and advised
that his left testicle was “dead” and would have
to be removed. In addition, his right testicle was attached
to the scrotum. Plaintiff also was told that if he had
received treatment sooner, he would have had a better chance
to save the left testicle. Plaintiff was returned to DCF and
then transferred to the University of Oklahoma Medical Center
in Oklahoma City where the diagnosis was confirmed. On
Friday, March 1, 2013, Plaintiff's left testicle was
removed, and his right testicle was surgically repaired.
Plaintiff alleges Dr. Joel Slaton at the OU Medical Center
told him that an earlier procedure would have saved his left
testicle. (Dkt. 59 at 4-5, 11; Dkt. 94 at 6, 14).
for Summary Judgment
have filed a motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 84). Summary
judgment is appropriate when “there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A
dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that “a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is material if it “might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing
law.” Id. In making this determination,
“[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed,
and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his
favor.” Id. at 255. A party opposing a motion
for summary judgment may not simply allege there are disputed
issues of fact; rather, the party must support its assertions
by citing to the record or by showing the moving party cannot
produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c). Thus, the inquiry for this Court is “whether the
evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require
submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one
party must prevail as a matter of law.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52.
Amendment Medical Claims
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976), the Supreme
Court addressed the Eighth Amendment prohibition against
cruel and unusual punishment in the context of medical
[D]eliberate indifference to serious medical needs of
prisoners constitutes the “unnecessary and wanton
infliction of pain” proscribed by the Eighth Amendment.
This is true whether the indifference is manifested by prison
doctors in their response to the prisoner's needs or by
prison guards in intentionally denying or delaying access to
medical care or intentionally interfering with the treatment
once prescribed. Regardless of how evidenced, deliberate
indifference to a prisoner's serious illness or injury
states a cause of action under §1983.
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-05 (1976)
(citations and footnotes omitted).
indifference involves both an objective and a subjective
component. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834
(1994). A prisoner first must produce objective evidence that
the deprivation at issue was in fact “sufficiently
serious.” Id. (quoting Wilson v.
Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991)). “A medical need
is serious if it is one that has been diagnosed by a
physician as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious
that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity
for a doctor's attention.” Riddle v.
Mondragon, 83 F.3d 1197, 1202 (10th Cir. 1996) (internal
quotation marks omitted). The subjective component is met if
a prison official “knows of and disregards an excessive
risk to inmate health or safety.” Farmer, 511
at 837. “[T]he official must both be aware of facts
from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial
risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the
allege Plaintiff was not subjected to deliberate indifference
of a serious medical need, and there was no actionable denial
or delay in providing medical treatment to him. In support of
their motion for summary judgment, Defendants have submitted
with their motion Plaintiff's medical records and
affidavits from the facility staff who were involved in
Plaintiff's medical care, as well as an excerpt of
on the record, the Court finds Plaintiff has shown his
medical condition was sufficiently serious. See
Riddle, 83 F.3d at 1202. Once the facility physician
examined Plaintiff, it was determined that he needed
additional testing and then surgical treatment. Therefore,
the objective component of deliberate indifference has been
met. The question is whether the subjective component was
Corrections Corporation of America
Corrections Corporation of America (“CCA”) has
moved for summary judgment regarding Plaintiff's Eighth
Amendment claims. CCA owns and operates DCF where Plaintiff
was housed pursuant to a contract between CCA and DOC.
alleges that by virtue of its contract with DOC, “CCA
has assumed DOC's constitutionally-mandated obligations
to provide for the health and safety of those in its
custody.” Plaintiff further asserts “CCA is
responsible for the training, supervision, and discipline of
prison staff regarding all aspects of prison . . .
operations, including, but not limited to medical
care.” He also alleges CCA is responsible for
implementing DOC policies and procedures and the American
Correctional Association (“ACA”) standards for
adult correctional institutions within the facility. (Dkt. 59
alleges Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that an official
policy or custom of CCA “was enacted or maintained with
deliberate indifference to an almost inevitable
constitutional injury.” See Schneider v. City of
Grand Junction Police Dep't, 717 F.3d 760, 769-71
(10th Cir. 2013) (citations omitted). See also Smedley v.
Corrections Corp. of Am., 175 Fed. App'x 943, 945-46
(10th Cir. 2005) (applying doctrine of Monell v.
Dep't of Soc. Serv., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978), to
determine § 1983 liability of a private corrections
facility under well-established law). Plaintiff must show
that the policy or custom either directly violated his rights
or was the “moving force” behind an
employee's violation of his rights. Schneider,
717 F.3d at 770; Smedley, 175 Fed. App'x at 946.
“A challenged practice may be deemed an official policy
or custom for § 1983 . . . purposes if it is a formally
promulgated policy, a well-settled custom or practice, a
final decision by a . . . policymaker, or deliberately
indifferent training or supervision.”
Schneider, 717 F.3d at 770 (citation omitted).
asked in his deposition, “Why did you name Corrections
Corporation of America as a defendant, ” Plaintiff
Because they're over the facility that I was at.
They're responsible for their employees. They're
responsible for their nurses. They're responsible for
implementing policy and procedures. They're responsible
for inmates' health, medical, ...