United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
SUZANNE MITCHELL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
appearing pro se, filed a civil rights complaint under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, Doc. 1, and United States District Judge
Stephen P. Friot referred the matter to the undersigned
Magistrate Judge for initial proceedings under 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B), (C). Doc. 3. Before the court are
Defendants Gonzaga's and Thomas' motions for summary
judgment. Docs. 55, 56. Plaintiff has filed responses to
both, Docs. 57, 58, and Defendants Gonzaga and Thomas have
replied, Docs. 59, 60. The undersigned recommends the court
GRANT Defendants' motions for summary judgment.
previously filed motions to dismiss Plaintiff's
complaint. Docs. 19, 22. The undersigned Magistrate Judge
filed a Report and Recommendation on May 10, 2017,
recommending Defendants' motions to dismiss be denied.
Doc. 34. The district court adopted the Report and
Recommendation. Doc. 37.
brought this civil rights action against two private-prison
employees, Dr. Mars Gonzaga and Christina Thomas, who worked
at the Lawton Correctional Facility (“LCF”) at
the time Plaintiff filed his complaint.Plaintiff alleges
he suffers “tremendously with a back injury, ”
and that prior to Defendants' arrival at LCF, Plaintiff
was provided with “Tylenol 3's, then switched to
vicodin, then switched to Narco, then switched to
Trimadol's.” Doc. 1, at 2. According to Plaintiff,
“now they cold turkey discontinued all of them, ”
and have “refuse[d] to provide proper pain relivers in
order to save money for the Company.” Id.
Plaintiff also alleges “[they] refuse [him] the surgery
[he needs].” Id. “They” presumably
refers to Defendants Gonzaga and Thomas, though Plaintiff
identified, “Lawton Correctional Facility M.D. and
medical Administrator, such as Dr. Mars Gonzaga and
medical Administrator Christina Thomas.” Id.
alleges two causes of actions arising out of these facts: (1)
he claims a violation of his “right to proper medical
care under the 8thAmendment, ”
Id. at 3, and (2) “Cruel and unusual
Punishment.” Id. Plaintiff alleges
“Christina Thomas, the [health services administrator],
and Mars Gonzaga, M.D. are directly responsibly for [his]
pain and suffering since around January or February when both
took over.” Id.
seeks the following relief: (1) “That Correct Care
Solution be ordered by the Court to properly treat [his] pain
and back injury that causes [him] to be 45% disabled and muse
use a cathader, ” and (2) “whatever the Court
would deem just and equitable on any monetary issues.”
Id. at 5.
was transferred to the North Fork Correctional Facility in
Sayre, Oklahoma on February 27, 2017. Doc. 56, Ex. 3, at 4.
He is no longer under the care or supervision of either
Defendant Gonzaga or Defendant Thomas.
Plaintiff's medication history at LCF.
was injured while working for a hot tar roofing company in
1992. Id. at 11. Plaintiff underwent two back
surgeries and a spinal leak resulting from this injury prior
to his incarceration at LCF. Id. Plaintiff was
incarcerated at LCF from sometime in 2003 to February 27,
2017, when he transferred to the North Fork facility in
Sayre. Id. at 4. The record contains extensive
information regarding the history of Plaintiff's medical
care and prescribed medications at LCF relating to his back
pain as well as other medical issues. The undisputed record
indicates that during the time period when Defendants were
involved in Plaintiff's medical care, Plaintiff was
prescribed at least one pain medication at all times to treat
his back pain. See Doc. 55, Ex. 3.
some period of time until February 2, 2015, Plaintiff was
prescribed narcotic pain medications. Doc. 30, at 7-11.
Medical records show that the last time Plaintiff was
prescribed a narcotic was on August 7, 2014, by Dr. Charles
Sorenson. Doc. 56, Ex. 4, at 4. Plaintiff does not dispute
this date. Dr. Sorenson prescribed Tylenol with Codeine
(Tylenol 3), and this prescription was to discontinue on
February 2, 2015. Id. At the time of this
appointment, Plaintiff was already taking
Neurontin. Id. The medication notes indicate
that the Neurontin was prescribed for “chronic back
pain” and “neurogenic bladder, ” and that
“Neurontin worked well in the past.” Id.
saw Dr. Sorenson again on October 2, 2014 for “[r]ight
hip injury/chronic pain.” Id. at 8. The record
shows that Plaintiff's prescription for Neurontin was
increased from 300mg to 600mg, and an X-ray of his right hip
was ordered. Id. Plaintiff's Tylenol 3
prescription was continued “for now, ” and was
still scheduled to discontinue on February 2, 2015.
Id. The records indicate that Plaintiff's
Neurontin prescription was increased to 800mg on January 30,
2015. Id. at 14.
the discontinuation of Plaintiff's Tylenol 3
prescription, Plaintiff saw Dr. Sorenson again on February 6,
2015 for a “Medication request.” Id. at
15. At this appointment, Dr. Sorenson noted that
“[Plaintiff] is requesting Tylenol #3 for his chronic
back pain. He is on maximal doses of Neurontin presently. He
claims his pain is not relieved without the T3.”
Id. at 14. Dr. Sorenson kept Plaintiff on the
“current regimen” of Neurontin, and did not
prescribe Tylenol 3 or any other narcotic. Id.
to the record, Defendant Gonzaga first saw Plaintiff on
August 7, 2015, for complaints of lower back pain and lumbar
disc disease. Doc. 55, Ex. 3, at 3; see also Doc.
30, Ex. 33. Plaintiff does not dispute this date. Plaintiff
was already taking Neurontin for nerve pain. See
Doc. 55, Ex. 3, at 1. Defendant Gonzaga prescribed pain
reliever Naprosyn 500 mg in addition to the Neurontin.
Id. at 3. Defendant Gonzaga noted that Plaintiff had
back surgery for lumbar disc disease, was complaining of pain
at the lower back that was “radiating to the RI leg,
” has “history of [peptic ulcer disease], ”
and was using a cane “due to unstable gait from
record shows that Plaintiff had at least six subsequent
appointments with Dr. Gonzaga regarding his back pain: (1)
September 4, 2015, Doc. 30, Ex. 34; (2) December 1, 2015,
Doc. 56, Ex. 4, at 16; (3) January 28, 2016, Doc. 30, Ex. 39;
(4) March 1, 2016, id. Ex. 40; (5) April 19, 2016,
id. Ex. 42; and (6) May 18, 2016, Doc. 55, Ex. 3, at
48. At each appointment, Dr. Gonzaga either kept Plaintiff on
the same medications and dosages, or he increased
Plaintiff's dosage of Neurontin or added additional pain
medications to his regimen. See Doc. 30, Ex. 42;
id. Ex. 39, at 1. The record also shows that
Defendant Gonzaga ordered Plaintiff a prescription for
Neurontin that had a start date of October 16, 2016, and a
stop date of April ...