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Price v. Eric

United States District Court, D. Delaware

September 28, 2018

ERIC, et al., Defendant.

          Lou Garden Price, Sr., James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.




         Plaintiff Lou Garden Price, Sr. ("Plaintiff), an inmate at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center ("JTVCC") in Smyrna, Delaware, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] (D.I. 3). He also raises a supplemental state claim. Plaintiff appears pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.I. 5). He recently filed a motion for representation by an attorney licensed in California. (D.I. 6). The court proceeds to review and screen the matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b) and § 1915A(a).


         With the exception of Defendant Dr. DuShuttle ("Dr. DuShutfie"), all Defendants are sued in their individual and official capacities. (D.I. 3 at 27). Plaintiff suffered an injury on April 23, 2016, while playing basketball in the prison gym. (Id. at 8). Correctional officers saw he was injured, called a "Code 4," and medical personnel arrived with a wheelchair. (Id. at 8). Defendants Nurse Eric ("Eric") and Nurse Joy Truitt ("Truitt") lifted Plaintiff onto the wheelchair without first immobilizing his leg and "something else tore/'popped' in [his] right knee" causing Plaintiff to scream. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Eric further injured him when he pushed the wheelchair and caused Plaintiffs injured leg to catch and get caught beneath it. (Id.) A lieutenant told the nurses to retrieve a gurney, Plaintiff was secured to the gurney, and taken to the infirmary. (Id.)

         Truitt telephoned Defendant Nurse Practitioner Ihoma Chucks ("Chucks") who was on-call. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Chucks failed to have Truitt call 911. (Id.) Plaintiff was told that 911 was not called because it was the weekend and no JTVCC cars were available. (Id. at 9). Chucks ordered a leg immobilizer, crutches, a wheelchair, "Norco" for pain, and no weight bearing. (Id. at 9). Although Plaintiff could not walk, he was sent back to the W-Building housing unit. (Id.)

         The following week, Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Nurse Practitioner Carla Cooper Miller ("Miller"). (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Miller did not call 911, but ordered x-rays given Plaintiffs "extremely swollen/deformed and mangled right knee and right ring finger." (Id.) Plaintiff alleges the "x-rays were positive for damages, but could not clearly see the true extent." (Id.)

         After Plaintiffs family complained, Plaintiff was transferred to the infirmary and seen by Defendant Dr. Ellis ("Dr. Ellis"). (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Ellis also failed to call 911 "which would have avoided JTVCC red tape" as "there was no reason not to call 911 for emergency treatment." (Id.) Dr. Ellis discharged Plaintiff back to W-Building. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that, because of his condition, he could not walk up stairs and could not access the showers. (Id.) He alleges that Defendants Deputy Warden James Scarborough ("Scarborough") and Jeffrey Carrothers ("Carrothers"), Major of Security, had a duty to approve him for a bottom bunk, wheelchair and crutches memo so "building security can know of them." (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Scarborough and Carrothers were aware of his serious medical issues, deliberately indifferent, and it was cruel and unusual to leave him in a position of "torture and torment" where he could be further hurt. (Id. at 9-10)

         Plaintiff alleges that former JTVCC Warden David Pierce ("Pierce") was made aware of his situation at weekly senior staff meetings. (Id. at 10). He alleges the senior administration officials, including Connections' Health Services Administrator ("Health Services Administrator") were aware Plaintiff needed emergency medical care because Plaintiff had been moved to the infirmary "where Dr. Ellis signed off on an "emergency outside ortho consult." (Id.) Plaintiff alleges the warden, deputy warden, and security chief must have known about the consult because security transportation must be arranged. (Id.) At the time, Plaintiff was classified as minimum security so only two officers were needed for his transport. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges the "red tape" was uncalled for, and "it was outright cruel/unusual because 911 was available." (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that "from Defendant #1 on down everyone ignored that simple option." (Id.)

         On June 1, 2016, approximately six weeks after his April 23, 2016 injury, Dr. DuShuttle performed surgery on Plaintiff. (Id.) Following the surgery, Plaintiff was sent to outside physical rehabilitation where it was determined that Dr. DuShuttle had removed the pin too late and this left Plaintiffs finger deformed. (Id. at 11). Plaintiff also received physical therapy on his right knee and it seemed to be going well, but the physical therapist noticed the kneecap was in a "superior alta" to its proper position. (Id.) During this time Plaintiff was on pain medication. (Id.)

         Following the February 2017 uprising at the JTVCC, when Plaintiff was "kept from physical therapy," he noticed his kneecap "was seriously high up on the femur." (Id. at 12). In March 2017, Plaintiff was seen by Nurse Practitioner Kathy Gustafson ("Gustafson"). (Id.) Gustafson summoned Dr. Jackson, the infirmary physician who provided treatment, and an "emergency consult" was placed for Plaintiff to see Dr. DuShuttle. (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges that Dr. DuShuttle told him the kneecap was "where it should be" and ordered an MRI, but he refused to operate. (Id.) In May 2017, Plaintiff was examined by another orthopedic surgeon who indicated that "revisions were needed." (Id. at 12-13). A CT Scan and MRI revealed a new patellar tendon tear. (Id. at 13). Plaintiff alleges he suffered several falls, two severe, and documented when he was housed in unsafe showers/conditions between 2016 and 2017. (Id.) Plaintiff underwent a second surgery on December 6, 2017, "[fallowing months of more red tape." (Id.) Plaintiff was placed in "safe handicap friendly T-Building" until declared healthy" where he remains today. (Id. at 13-14).

         Plaintiff was placed on Oxycodone following the December 2017 surgery and later placed on Tramadol. (Id. at 14). Plaintiff made it known to Miller that his knee is "on so tight that it is grinding into the bone," and other nurses have heard the grinding sound. (Id. at 14-15). Plaintiff alleges that he cannot bear the extreme pain, and the pain has increased the quantity and frequency of migraine attacks. (Id.)

         On March 4, 2018, Miller reduced Plaintiffs Tramadol dose which resulted in severe withdrawals. (Id. at 15-16). Plaintiff was seen by Miller on March 29, 2018, in the chronic care clinic and related his "unbearable pain from the knee grinding issue" and decrease in Tramadol and told Miller he intended to sue her for sending him to Dr. DuShuttle for surgeries. (Id. at 17). Plaintiff alleges that Miller retaliated by terminating the doctor's appointment. (Id. at 17). She also "abruptly discontinued" the Tramadol. (Id.) The next day, when a staff lieutenant learned at a disciplinary hearing that Miller had ended Plaintiffs medication cold turkey, he contacted mental health for a suicide/risk assessment. (Id. at 18). Plaintiff alleges that Miller "hurriedly" restarted the Tramadol, but it did nothing to abate his pain. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Miller asked a lieutenant to have Plaintiff moved to the D-West Building which has slippery shower floors and is not handicap friendly. (Id. at 19).

         Plaintiff states that all issues are exhausted with the exception of the retaliation claim against Miller that has been filed but is not exhausted. (Id. at 20). Plaintiff seeks injunctive and declaratory ...

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