United States District Court, D. Delaware
JAMES F. TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS, et al., Defendants.
GREGORY M. SLEET, District Judge.
The plaintiff, James F. Taylor ("Taylor"), a prisoner housed at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He proceeds pro se and was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.I.9.)
Before the court is the defendants' motion for summary judgment and Taylor's opposition thereto. (D.I.46.)
II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
The case proceeds on the original complaint (D.I. 3) and raises medical needs claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the defendants Correct Care Solutions ("CCS"), William Mazur, M.D. ("Dr. Mazur"), Dale Rogers, M.D. ("Dr. Rogers"), and Angela Robinson ("Robinson").
Medical records indicate that Taylor, who has arthritis, has complained of knee pain and difficulty since at least 2006. (D.I. 47, ex. A; D.I. 52.) An MRI of the left knee performed on October 27, 2006 revealed meniscal tears and chrondromalacia. (Id. at ex. B.) In 2007, a recommendation was made by consulting physician Dr. Dushuttle ("Dr. Dushuttle"), an orthopedic surgeon, that Taylor undergo steroidal injections as a method of delaying total knee replacement. (Id. at ex. C.) Taylor underwent a series of steroid injections and was also treated with medication, including Naproxen. (D.I. 52.) A November 27, 2008 consultation request for Taylor states that "based on MRI, patient will almost certainly need surgery." (Id. )
On June 10, 2010, site medical director Dr. Rodgers signed off on a consultation request that noted failed outpatient therapies of a left knee brace and steroid injections. On June 11, 2010, Dr. MacBride approved an alternative treatment plan that included a new MRI and an orthopedic consult. (Id. )
CCS became the medical service provider for Delaware Department of Correction ("DOC") institutions on July 1, 2010 and provided services through June 30, 2014. Parkell v. Danberg, 21 F.Supp. 3d 339, 345 (D. Del. 2014). On July 22, 2010, CCS medical personnel submitted an outpatient referral request for Taylor to see Dr. Dushuttle. (D.I.54.) On July 27, 2010 Taylor was examined by medical. He complained of having difficulty ambulating and requested an assistance device such as crutches or a cane. (D.I. 47 at ex. D.) An MRI, taken on July 12, 2010, revealed degenerative and tearing of the medial meniscus and a lateral meniscal tear, with myxoid degenerative change along the anterior cruciate ligament fibers. (D.I. 54.) On August 11, 2010, Taylor was seen by Dr. Dushuttle, and he recommended a total knee replacement. (D.I.47, ex. D; D.I. 54.) Dr. Dushuttle also recommended and administered a cortisone injection. (D.I. 54.)
When Taylor was seen by medical on August 13, 2010, medical personnel discussed with him the consult report. (D.I. 47, ex. D.) On October 11, 2010, the consult was again discussed with Taylor, and he was told that medical was awaiting a re-evaluation by the regional medical director. (D.I. 54.) Taylor was examined by Dr. Mazur on October 21, 2010. (Id. ) Upon examination Taylor had full range of motion, but significant pain. Taylor related that he had instability for years that had significantly worsened in recent months. (Id. ) The instability had resulted in numerous falls and impaired his ability to work. (Id. ) Dr. Mazur's notes refer to the recommendation of a total knee replacement by Dr. Dushuttle. In the progress notes, Dr. Mazur states that he will review the chart with the provider in detail to determine if all conservative treatment options have been utilized. (Id. ) The progress notes indicate that the case will be discussed at a provider meeting. (Id. ) The record does not contain evidence of medical treatment from October 21, 2010 to June 14, 2011.
Taylor states in his complaint that he met with Dr. Rogers a few months after saw Dr. Mazur. At that time, Dr. Rogers read him a letter regarding a CCS policy that surgery was not authorized unless a condition was life threatening. (D.I. 3, ¶ 3.) Dr. Rogers told Taylor that the policy came from the director's office at CCS. (Id. ) At the time, Robinson was the director for CCS. (D.L 56.)
Progress notes dated June 21, 2011 indicate that Taylor was receiving physical therapy for his left knee, but continued to have pain. (D.I. 54.) Taylor was issued a home exercise program and continued to wear a brace as needed for support at work. (Id. ) Physical therapy continued through August 2011, but progress was slow, there was pain with activity, and Taylor had problems standing for long periods. (Id. ) As of September 2011, Taylor's range of motion had improved, but he continued to complain of left knee pain. (D.I. 47, ex. E.) Taylor worked full-time in the kitchen and was able to perform functional activity and work related duties, unrestricted, despite degenerative changes in the left knee. (Id. ) He was discharged from physical therapy and to continue with follow-up as needed. (Id. ) Taylor was given a wheelchair in 2012. (D.I. 53, ¶ 6.) He states that he now goes to all functions with a cane and wheelchair. (D.I. 53.)
III. LEGAL STANDARD
The court shall grant summary judgment only if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party bears the burden of proving that no genuine issue of material fact exists. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 n.10 (1986). When determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Wishkin v. Potter, 476 F.3d 180, 184 (3d Cir. 2007). If the moving party has demonstrated an absence of material fact, the nonmoving party then "must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. at 587 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). However, a party opposing summary judgment "must present more than just bare assertions, conclusory allegations or suspicions' to show the existence of a genuine issue." Podobnik v. United States Postal Serv., 409 F.3d 584, 594 ...