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Parkell v. Mental Health Management

United States District Court, D. Delaware

July 1, 2015


Donald D. Parkell, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware. Pro se Plaintiff.

Jacqueline G. Genesio, Esquire, Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires & Newby LLP, Dover, Delaware. Counsel for Defendant.


SUE L. ROBINSON, District Judge.


Plaintiff Donald D. Parkell ("plaintiff"), who proceeds pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, is an inmate at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center ("VCC"), Smyrna, Delaware. He filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants Phillip Morgan, Mental Health Management ("MHM" or "defendant")[1], Correct Care Solutions, maintenance officer Humphries, former commissioner Carl Danberg, and Lt. Pedrick alleging violations of his constitutional rights. (D.I. 3, 8, 45) MHM is the only remaining defendant, all other defendants having been dismissed or summary judgment granted in their favor. (See D.I. 8, 12, 88) Presently before the court is defendant's unopposed motion for summary judgment and plaintiff's motions to alert the court of MHM's failure to comply with a court order and for sanctions. (D.I. 98, 104, 106) The court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. For the following reasons, the court will grant defendant's motion and will deny plaintiff's motion.


Plaintiff was housed at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution ("HYRCI") in Wilmington, Delaware as a pretrial detainee and, on March 8, 2013, he became a sentenced inmate. (D.I. 45, ¶ 14; D.I. 70, ex. B) During the relevant time-frame, defendant was the contract health care provider who served the mental health needs of inmates at HRYCI. (D.I. 45 at ¶ 6)

The original complaint alleges that defendant violated plaintiff's constitutional rights by failing to provide mental health treatment. ( See D.I. 3) More particularly, plaintiff alleges that when he arrived at the HYRCI on March 29, 2012, he informed the nursing staff of his mental health condition and the need for an evaluation and for continued medication, yet he was not seen by mental health care providers until nearly two months after his arrival. Plaintiff alleges that defendant failed to staff a sufficient number of employees to provide treatment to inmates at the HYRCI, and this caused a long delay in plaintiff's receipt of mental health treatment. When plaintiff was finally seen and prescribed medication, within a week he began experiencing adverse reactions, but it was three to four weeks before the medication was adjusted.

Plaintiff's mental health and medical records (D.I. 99, ex. A)[2] indicate that during the March 29, 2012 intake screening, he provided a history of mental health issues and medications he had taken. Plaintiff relayed that he had no suicidal ideation, that he had not shown any serious psychiatric problems during incarceration or had violent behavior or threats. Plaintiff did not exhibit signs of depression.

On March 30, 2012, plaintiff was admitted to the infirmary for benzodiazepine withdrawal monitoring until he was discharged on April 2, 2012. On the date of admission, plaintiff underwent a comprehensive mental health evaluation. (D.I. 102, part 3 of 4) The medical plan was to refer plaintiff to a psychiatrist for medication evaluation. ( Id. ) However, plaintiff indicated during the exam that he was "not interested in seeing a psychiatrist at [that] time and was instructed on how to access mental health services, including psychiatry, should he decide to." ( Id. )

Plaintiff submitted a mental health request on April 5, 2012 and asked that his mental health records from the Rockford Center[3] be sent to the HYRCI. In addition, he requested Clonazepam, complained that he was experiencing extreme anxiety, and stated that he was trying to get to dorm four (i.e., the medical dorm). On April 10, 2012, plaintiff was placed on a list for 1D housing, and referred to a physician for medication. Plaintiff submitted a mental health request on April 15, 2012 complaining that he had yet to see a physician. (D.I. 102, part 3 of 4) Plaintiff's mood and affect were stable, but he was assessed as hypo-manic. ( Id. )

Plaintiff was seen by a psychiatrist on May 17, 2012 and placed on fluoxetine for a trial period.[4] Plaintiff request Klonopin, and "was told no Benzos" given his history of drug use and drug seeking. Plaintiff was examined on June 7, 2012, after submitting a sick call request. His mood and affect were noted to be stable. Plaintiff requested a change in medication, and he was instructed to continue on fluoxetine and return for follow-up. A July 10, 2012 psychiatric progress note indicates that plaintiff's mental health records were received and reviewed and he was seen for follow-up on the trial course of fluoxetine. Plaintiff indicated that Klonopin is the only medication that provides relief. He described feeling hyper and tense and expressed a need to be hypervigilant for fear that others would get one over on him. Plaintiff declined an offer of mood stabilizer medication. The dose of fluoxetine was increased and, on October 1, 2012, a 90-day prescription of fluoxetine was ordered for plaintiff.

On December 27, 2012, plaintiff submitted a mental health request stating that he had tried fluoxetine for some time, was told that he would be seen for a review, and that he could not continue to take fluoxetine as it does "nothing for [him]." Plaintiff was seen on December 31, 2012, complained that he felt "haywire, " and indicated that, in the past, he had taken Wellbutrin and it worked for him then. Plaintiff was prescribed Wellbutrin and directed to follow-up in 90 days with instructions to discontinue fluoxetine.

Plaintiff submitted a mental health request on February 5, 2013 and requested an increase in his dose of Wellbutrin. He stated that he had been on Wellbutrin for a while and, although it seemed to help, it "wears off too quickly." Plaintiff underwent a psychiatric evaluation on February 7, 2013. Once again, he indicated that the Wellbutrin provided relief but he believed that he needed an increase ...

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