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Walker v. Mohiuddin

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

January 14, 2020

SHERMAINE WALKER, individually and as administrator of the estate of Marques Davis, deceased; KATHLEEN FORSYTH, as Guardian Ad Litem of I.D.F., Plaintiffs - Appellees,
v.
SOHAIB MOHIUDDIN, M.D., Defendant-Appellant, and CORIZON HEALTH, INC., formerly known as Correctional Medical Services; PAUL CORBIER, M.D.; KARL SAFFO, M.D.; HEATHER UNGEHEUR, APRN; NANCY CISKEY, APRN; RHONDA DURANT, APRN; DEBRA LUNDRY, RN; JENNIFER HELUS, RN; SARAH MENDOZA; BARBARA DICKERSON, RN; KAREN DENNIS, RN; KELLY FRENCH, RN; JENNIFER VEST, RN; JOHN OR JANE DOE 1, Medical Director; JOHN OR JANE DOE 2, Health Services Administrator; JOHN OR JANE DOE 3, Director of Nursing, Defendants.

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Kansas (D.C. No. 2:17-CV-02601-DDC-KGG)

          Eric Turner, Foulston Siefkin LLP, Overland Park, Kansas (Thomas L. Theis, Foulston Siefkin LLP, Topeka, Kansas, with him on the briefs), for Defendant -Appellant.

          Kyle McRae (Leland F. Dempsey on the brief), Dempsey & Kingsland, P.C., Kansas City, Missouri, for Plaintiffs - Appellees.

          Before TYMKOVICH, Chief Judge, MURPHY, and CARSON, Circuit Judges.

          MURPHY, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Marques Davis was an inmate at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility ("HCF") from June 2016 until his death in April 2017. During the course of his confinement, Davis suffered from constant neurological symptoms, the cause of which went untreated by HCF medical personnel. When he eventually died from Granulomatous Meningoencephalitis, Davis's brain was so swollen the upper part was forced downward into the lower part (i.e., tonsillar herniation). Davis's estate ("the Estate") brought federal and state law claims against Corizon Health, Inc. ("Corizon") and numerous health care professionals who interacted with Davis during his incarceration. One such medical professional, Dr. Sohaib Mohiuddin, filed a qualified-immunity-based motion to dismiss the Estate's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim. The district court denied the motion, concluding the complaint set out a clearly established violation of Davis's right to be free from deliberate indifference to the need for serious medical care. Mohiuddin appeals, asserting the district court erred in determining the complaint's conclusory and collective allegations state a valid Eighth Amendment claim as to him. Upon de novo review, this court concludes the complaint does not state a valid deliberate indifference claim as to Mohiuddin. Thus, exercising jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291, [1] we reverse the denial of Mohiuddin's motion to dismiss and remand the matter to the district court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         In 2010, Davis was sentenced to serve time in the Kansas penal system. He was transferred to HCF in June 2016. Prior to his arrival at HCF, Davis was a healthy twenty-seven-year-old man. During Davis's incarceration at HCF, the Kansas Department of Corrections contracted with Corizon to provide medical care for inmates. Mohiuddin was a Corizon employee assigned to HCF.

         In July and August 2016, Davis began experiencing numbness in his feet, weakness in his right leg, and severe mid-back pain. He reported his symptoms to numerous unnamed Corizon healthcare providers.[2] A Corizon doctor determined Davis's symptoms were caused by his blood pressure medication and discontinued the medication.

         During September 2016, Davis made approximately twelve visits to HCF's medical unit concerning numbness in his feet, weakness of his right leg, severe mid-back pain, and an increasing difficulty in walking. Healthcare providers prescribed Tylenol and ordered a lumbar x-ray, but noted Davis appeared to be malingering.

         In October 2016, Davis made eight visits to the medical unit for the same symptoms. Doctor Karl Saffo noted Davis's muscle weakness and numbness in his feet. Saffo's notes indicate he was going to seek approval for "EMG studies" of Davis's lower extremities. During that same period, a nurse documented the need for an MRI referral. Neither an MRI nor "EMG studies" took place during October.

         In November 2016, Davis visited HCF's medical unit five times for the same symptoms. During this month, Davis received "EMG studies" of his lower extremities and a neurology consultation. ...


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