United States District Court, D. Delaware
Saunders a/k/a Shamsidin Ali, James T. Vaughn Correctional
Center, Smyrna, Delaware. Pro Se Plaintiff.
Clement Handlon, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department
of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Defendants.
NOREIKA, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
December 21, 2015, Plaintiff Robert Saunders a/k/a Shanisidin
Ali ("Plaintiff), an inmate at the James T. Vaughn
Correctional Center ("VCC") in Smyrna, Delaware,
filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §
12131. (D.I. 3). He appears pro se and was granted
permission to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915. (D.I. 6). Defendant Dr. Vincent Carr
("Dr. Carr") filed a crossclaim for contribution
and indemnification against the medical co-defendants on
September 9, 2016.(D.I. 21). Pending before the Court are the
motion of Dr. Carr and the Delaware Department of Corrections
("DOC") (collectively, "Defendants") for
summary judgment (D.I. 54) and Plaintiffs motion for
sanctions. (D.I. 106). For the reasons set forth below, the
Court will (1) grant Defendants' motion for summary
judgment, (2) dismiss Dr. Carr's crossclaim as moot, and
(3) deny Plaintiffs motion for sanctions.
Complaint raises an Americans with Disabilities Act
("ADA") claim against Defendant Delaware Department
of Correction ("DOC") and a medical needs claim
against Dr. Carr. (D.I. 3). All other defendants and claims
have been dismissed. (See D.I. 10; D.I. 116).
Complaint alleges that Plaintiff suffers from several medical
conditions. On November 4, 2015, Plaintiff was advised
by consultant nephrologist that his medical records indicated
a stage three kidney disorder with thirty-five percent kidney
function loss. (D.I. 3 at ¶ 18). Medications prescribed
for Plaintiff were discontinued since, when taken in
conjunction with blood pressure medication, they were
"very detrimental." (Id.). The Complaint
alleges that two nephrologists wrote numerous consults for
him to see a urologist or endocrinologist. (Id. at
¶ 19). Plaintiff alleges that he was told because he
also suffers from hypertension, kidney damage may occur more
quickly due to the combination of diabetes and hypertension.
(Id.). Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Carr, along with
the dismissed medical defendants, ignored the requests for
also alleges that Dr. Carr, along with the dismissed medical
defendants, refused to approve medically needed spinal
surgery due to cost considerations. (Id. at
¶¶ 19-20). Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Carr, along
with the dismissed medical defendants, opted to provide
Plaintiff with physical therapy despite a medical
recommendation to the contrary. (Id. at ¶ 20).
In addition, Plaintiff alleges that he was denied surgery
based upon his age and life without parole sentence.
(Id. at ¶ 22).
further alleges that he has been in constant/severe pain
since November 2014 and that he has been provided a
wheelchair for traveling long distances and a walker for use
as needed. (Id.). He alleges that two buildings he
uses, the B-building library and the L-building (law
library/computer), have areas that are not handicap
accessible and do not have handicap accessible toilets.
(Id. at ¶ 23). Plaintiff alleges Defendants are
aware of this problem via the grievance process and letters.
medical records indicate that he was taken to Bayhealth
Medical Center on October 7, 2014, because of massive rectal
bleeding. (D.I. 5 at 7). A colonoscopy performed on October
9, 2014, revealed severe diverticulosis. (Id. at 9).
cervical spine MRI performed on Plaintiff on August 26, 2014,
revealed severe C3-4, 4-5, 5-6, 6-7 stenosis, compression
greater at ¶ 3-4 with cord signal changes. (Id.
at 10-11). Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Dunbar Alcindor
("Dr. Alcindor") on October 6, 2014 and November 7,
2014 for cervical stenosis with upper extremity weakness and
parenthesis conditions. (Id. at 6). At the October
6, 2014 visit, Plaintiff indicated that he was not interested
in any surgical procedure and opted to undergo conservative
treatment. (Id.). Dr. Alcindor prescribed medication
and physical therapy. (Id.). When Plaintiff returned
on November 7, 2014, Dr. Alcindor recommended C3-4, C4-5,
C5-6, C6-7 anterior cervical discectomy and fusion.
(Id. at 5). Dr. Alcindor noted that, because
Plaintiff is incarcerated, he is unable to tolerate the usual
course of conservative treatment secondary to his status and
prior unacceptable side effects from some of the medications
Dr] Alcindor would like to prescribe. (Id.).
Plaintiff was advised to consider his options and notify Dr.
Alcindor's office. (Id.).
Carr's declaration states that he is the Medical Director
of the Bureau of Correctional Health Services of the Delaware
DOC. (D.I. 36-1 at ¶ 1). He did not work for the DOC
prior to October 2012. (Id.). As Medical Director,
Dr. Carr does not perform patient care for DOC inmates.
(Id. at ¶ 2). According to Dr. Carr, he made no
decisions regarding Plaintiff's healthcare and has not
prevented any medical procedures, including surgery.
(Id.). Dr. Carr does not participate in any clinical
decisions, approval, or authorization processes.
(Id.). He was not involved in Plaintiffs care for
back pain and has not interfered with any decision that
Plaintiff receive back surgery. (Id. at ¶ 5).
Nor do Plaintiff s records indicate interference with a
referral for a kidney evaluation or recommendation for spinal
surgery. (Id.). According to Dr. Carr, a
neuro-surgeon had been waiting for Plaintiffs decision
concerning an anterior cervical discectomny and fusion
procedure. (Id. at ¶ 10). Dr. Carr states that
he has not interfered with referrals to outside consultants.
(Id. at ¶ 3). On one occasion in 2016, Dr. Carr
upheld a medical grievance submitted by Plaintiff when he
claimed there were "obstacles" in seeing his
nephrologist. (D.I. 36-1 at ¶ 4, 8-12).
Carr reviewed Plaintiffs electronic health record and it
indicates that: (1) with regard to Plaintiffs kidney
condition, the records do not raise a concern that an outside
consultation was required (D.I. 36-1 at ¶ 4); (2)
Plaintiff was scheduled to see a urologist in January 2017
(id.); (3) the medical records do not support
Plaintiffs position regarding his back condition, Plaintiff
had indecision about receiving back surgery, numerous tests
were performed, and Plaintiff had a neurosurgical
consultation on December 8, 2016 that indicated Plaintiffs
overall strength and condition were stable (id. at
¶¶ 5, 10); (4) Plaintiff receives treatment and
medication for his diabetes, kidney insufficiency, and blood
pressure (id. at ¶¶ 6, 7); (5) Plaintiff
was seen by an on-site nephrologist in November 2015
(id. at ¶ 6); (6) he was seen by a podiatrist
in February 2016 (id. at ¶ 7); (7) the records
do not indicate a reoccurrence of diverticulitis for which he
was treated in October 2014 (id. at ¶ 8); and
(8) the soy diet provided to Plaintiff is recommended for
individuals who have diabetes with kidney disease
(id. at ¶ 9).
move for summary judgment on the grounds that: (1) Dr. Carr
lacks the requisite personal involvement to impose liability;
(2) the record demonstrates that Plaintiff receives extensive
medical treatment; (3) Dr. Carr is entitled to qualified
immunity; (4) there is no evidence of record to support
Plaintiff s claim that the DOC is in violation of the ADA;
and (5) Plaintiff did not exhaust the ADA claim.