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Gladu v. Correct Care Solutions

United States District Court, D. Maine

June 26, 2018

NICHOLAS A. GLADU, Plaintiff
v.
CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS, et al., Defendants

          RECOMMENDED DECISION ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS FOR PHYSICAL EXAMINATION

          JOHN C. NIVISON U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         In this action, Plaintiff, an inmate at the Maine State Prison, alleges, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, that Defendants have acted, and continue to act, with deliberate indifference toward his serious medical condition. The matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's motions for a physical examination (ECF Nos. 19, 46), which motions are construed requests for preliminary injunctive relief.

         Background

         Plaintiff alleges that he has developed a condition on his skull, which condition he describes as an anomaly, and that he has experienced headaches, vertigo, and visual difficulties. Plaintiff contends Defendants have denied Plaintiff's request for a referral to outside providers and have not properly assessed Plaintiff to rule out certain disease processes.

         Through his motions for physical examination, Plaintiff requests x-ray studies of his skull, a metabolic panel, renal function panel, endocrine study, and other studies. Plaintiff asserts that he is willing to pay for the studies, if they are obtained from outside providers. Plaintiff requests, in the alternative, that Defendants conduct the studies, provided that Plaintiff set parameters for the studies and that the x-rays are reviewed by an outside provider. (See, ECF Nos. 19, 32, 46.)

         As referenced above, because Plaintiff asks to the Court to direct a certain aspect of Plaintiff's medical treatment, Plaintiff's motions for physical examination are construed as motions for injunctive relief.

         Discussion

         When evaluating a request for injunctive relief, courts “must consider (1) the likelihood of success on the merits; (2) the potential for irreparable harm if the injunction is denied; (3) the balance of relevant impositions, i.e., the hardship to the nonmovant if enjoined as contrasted with the hardship to the movant if no injunction issues; and (4) the effect (if any) of the court's ruling on the public interest.”[1] Ross-Simons of Warwick, Inc. v. Baccarat, Inc., 102 F.3d 12, 15 (1st Cir. 1996) (citing Weaver v. Henderson, 984 F.2d 11, 12 &n.3 (1st Cir. 1993), and Narragansett Indian Tribe v. Guilbert, 934 F.2d 4, 5 (1st Cir. 1991)). “The sine qua non of this four-part inquiry is likelihood of success on the merits; if the moving party cannot demonstrate that he is likely to succeed in his quest, the remaining factors become matters of idle curiosity.” New Comm Wireless Servs., Inc. v. SprintCom, Inc., 287 F.3d 1, 9 (1st Cir. 2002). “The dramatic and drastic power of injunctive force may be unleashed only against conditions generating a presently existing actual threat; it may not be used simply to eliminate a possibility of a remote future injury, or a future invasion of rights, be those rights protected by statute or by the common law.” Holiday Inns of Am., Inc. v. B & B Corp., 409 F.2d 614, 618 (3d Cir. 1969).

         Plaintiff's claim arises under the Eighth Amendment, made actionable by the civil rights act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In its final clause, the Eighth Amendment prohibits the infliction of “cruel and unusual punishments.” U.S. Const. amend. VIII. Based on this prohibition, “courts have derived the principles that govern the permissible conditions under which prisoners are held and that establish the medical treatment those prisoners must be afforded.” Kosilek v. Spencer, 774 F.3d 63, 82 (1st Cir. 2014) (citing Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994)). To succeed on a claim of inadequate or delayed medical care, Plaintiff must demonstrate that Defendants have acted with “deliberate indifference” toward “a substantial risk of serious harm to health, ” Coscia v. Town of Pembroke, 659 F.3d 37, 39 (1st Cir. 2011), or “serious medical need[], ” Feeney v. Corr. Med. Servs., 464 F.3d 158, 161 (1st Cir. 2006) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105 -106 (1976)). To carry his burden, Plaintiff must satisfy both an objective and a subjective standard. Leavitt v. Corr. Med. Servs., 645 F.3d 484, 497 (1st Cir. 2011).

         The objective standard focuses on the seriousness of the risk of harm to the inmate's health. For a medical condition to be objectively “serious, ” there must be “a sufficiently substantial ‘risk of serious damage to [the inmate's] future health.'” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 843 (1994) (quoting Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 35 (1993)). A medical need is serious if it has been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment, or is so obvious that even a lay person would recognize a need for medical intervention. Leavitt, 645 F.3d at 497; Gaudreault v. Mun. of Salem, 923 F.2d 203, 208 (1st Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 500 U.S. 956 (1991).

         The subjective standard involves the culpability of the defendant. To establish liability, a plaintiff must establish that a defendant possessed a culpable state of mind amounting to “deliberate indifference to an inmate's health or safety.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834 (internal quotation marks omitted). Deliberate indifference is akin to criminal recklessness, “requiring actual knowledge of impending harm, easily preventable.” Feeney, 464 F.3d at 162 (quoting Watson v. Caton, 984 F.2d 537, 540 (1st Cir. 1993)). The focus of the deliberate indifference analysis “is on what the jailers knew and what they did in response.” Burrell v. Hampshire Cnty., 307 F.3d 1, 8 (1st Cir. 2002). In other words, the subjective standard focuses on whether the Defendants had a “purposeful intent” to neglect Plaintiff's serious medical needs. Perry v. Roy, 782 F.3d 73, 79 (1st Cir. 2015) (citing Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105). A showing of such an intent requires evidence that the alleged absence or inadequacy of treatment was intentional. Id. (citing Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105 (holding that “an inadvertent failure to provide adequate medical care” is not a constitutional violation), and Watson, 984 F.2d at 540 (“The courts have consistently refused ... to conclude that simple medical malpractice rises to the level of cruel and unusual punishment.”)). “The typical example of a case of deliberative indifference would be one in which treatment is denied in order to punish the inmate.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).

         Deliberate indifference thus must be based on much more than ordinary negligence. The First Circuit has explained:

A finding of deliberate indifference requires more than a showing of negligence. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976) (holding that “[m]edical malpractice does not become a constitutional violation merely because the victim is a prisoner”); Sires v. Berman, 834 F.2d 9, 13 (1st Cir. 1987). A plaintiff claiming an eighth amendment violation with respect to an inmate's serious mental health or safety needs must allege “acts or omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference.” Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106; see also Cortes-Quinone v. Jimenez-Nettleship, 842 F.2d 556, 558 (1st Cir.), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 823 (1988). Although this court has hesitated to find deliberate indifference to a serious need “[w]here the dispute concerns not the absence of help, but the choice of a certain ...

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