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Terrell v. Dixon

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division

May 8, 2019

WILLIE JAMES TERRELL JR., Plaintiff,
v.
Corporal DIXON, et al., Defendants.

          PROCEEDINGS UNDER 42 U.S.C. § 1983 BEFORE THE U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Charles H. Weigle United States Magistrate Judge

         Before the Court is a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Dixon and Kitchens. (Doc. 46). Plaintiff failed to respond to this motion despite receiving repeated prompts from the Court to do so, and despite receiving two extensions of time. (Docs. 48, 49, 52). As discussed below, no evidence suggests that Plaintiff suffered from any objectively serious medical need or that the Defendants' conduct rose to the level of deliberate indifference. Accordingly, the Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity from Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims. It is therefore RECOMMENDED that the Defendants' motion for summary judgment be GRANTED.

         Also before the Court is a motion to compel filed by Plaintiff Willie James Terrell Jr. (Doc. 55). For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's motion is DENIED.

         FACTS

         Plaintiff alleges that he was assaulted by other prisoners on July 22, 2017, resulting in possible injuries to his chest, right elbow, and left hip, along with ensuing headaches, cuts, bruises, and a swollen ankle. (Compl., Doc. 1, p. 5). At a follow-up appointment with prison medical professionals at Washington State Prison on August 3, Plaintiff was referred for “Further assessment for CT [and] xray of hip [and] elbow, [and for] evaluation of chest pain.” (Doc. 46-9). In particular, Washington State Prison medical authorities wanted to rule out the possibility of any factures or internal bleeding. (Docs. 46-10, 46-11).

         Accordingly, Plaintiff was transported to the Washington County Regional Medical Center (“WCRMC”), where he was admitted at around 1:15 PM on August 3, 2017. (Doc. 46-11, p. 3). There, three x-rays were taken of Plaintiff's elbow, which showed some soft-tissue swelling but no fractures or displacement of “fat pads.” (Doc. 46-11, p. 14). Two x-rays were also taken of Plaintiff's pelvis, and they revealed intact bones, uniform and symmetrical joints, and normal soft-tissue outlines. (Doc. 46-11, p. 15). Finally, a chest x-ray showed normal heart size and vascular pattern, as well as normal “osseous structures” with regard to all visualized bones. (Doc. 46-11, p. 17). Two ribs - Plaintiff's “posterior first and second ribs” - “were not fully imaged” on the WCRMC chest x-ray. (Id.). No. cranial imaging was conducted at the WCRMC, even though medical sources noted “some swelling in the occipital region of [Plaintiff] scalp” upon examination. (Doc. 46-11, p. 5).

         Following Plaintiff's treatment at the WCRMC, Plaintiff was “Transfer[red] to Augusta University, ” (Doc. 46-11, p. 5), where CT imaging was available. See (Pl.'s Dep.) (Doc. 46-22, p. 8) (“At [the WCRMC], their CT scan didn't work”) A CT scan of Plaintiff's head was “negative for any intracranial processes, ” and a scan of Plaintiff's neck was also “negative for any abnormality.” (Doc. 46-16, p. 4). A second x-ray of Plaintiff's chest “rule[d] out broken ribs.” (Id.). The record indicates that these medical images were obtained between 8:30 and 9:00 PM on the evening of August 3. (Doc. 14-16, pp. 6-10). Plaintiff was discharged from the Augusta University Medical Center around 10:00 PM, (Doc. 46-20, p. 1), and he returned to Washington State Prison either late that night, (Doc. 46-22, p. 31), or early the next morning. (Doc. 46-21, p. 1). A medical intake note from Washington State Prison reads: “Inmate states he is fine.” (Id.).

         Throughout his treatment on August 3, Plaintiff claims that the Defendants attempted to interfere with his ability to obtain necessary medical imaging. At the WCRMC, for example, Plaintiff claims that the Defendants “didn't understand why I needed both …x-rays and a CT scan, and … that [I] was blowing the State's budget, and that I should refuse one or the other because it's too much radiation.” (Pl.'s Dep.) (Doc. 46-22, p. 18). Later, at the August University Medical Center, Plaintiff claims that the Defendants “had a verbal disagreement with the medical staff” because the staff initially “told me they had to do the x-rays over.” (Id., pp. 9-10). Eventually, Augusta University medical staff opted “to [re]do the chest x-ray only, ” along with “a CT [scan] of [Plaintiff's] head down to my spine.” (Id., p. 12). Plaintiff claims that one physician “seemed upset that [the Defendants] weren't allowing [other] x-rays to be done and didn't want a CT” scan. (Id.). Plaintiff further claims that the Defendants expressed frustration that Plaintiff was “holding [them] up, ” because the Defendants “want[ed] to be home before five p.m.” (Id., p. 13).

         When asked at his deposition how the Defendants' actions harmed him, Plaintiff answered that his hip continues to hurt due to a suspected hairline fracture, (Doc. 46-22, pp. 19-20), that he “might have [had] a fracture or some type of break in my arm [that] probably healed, ” (Id., p. 20), and that he continues to suffer from pain in his head, neck, back and chest. (Id., p. 43). According to Plaintiff, if the Defendants had allowed for adequate medical imaging, then Plaintiff “could have gotten medical treatment sooner, ” and in particular he “could have gotten [physical] therapy sooner.” (Id., p. 19).

         PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL

         Plaintiff has filed a document titled “objection to Defendants['] irregularity in the handling of the deposition in conjunction with a motion to compel Defendants to submit Plaintiff's errata sheet changes.” (Doc. 55). This motion is DENIED.

         Rule 30(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for a 30-day period in which a deponent may review his deposition transcript and make certain changes thereto. Plaintiff took advantage of this review period, see (Doc. 55, p. 2) (“Plaintiff's corrections made on 14 January”), and the Defendants have now provided Plaintiff's errata sheets. (Doc. 56-1, pp. 4-5). This Recommendation has given full consideration to Plaintiff's asserted errata.

         Plaintiff appears to seek additional time in which to compare his deposition transcript with “the actual evidence [of] the original audiotaped recording of the oral examination.” (Doc. 55, p. 3). This request is improper for two reasons. First, although Plaintiff's motion is dated February 6, 2019, Plaintiff did not deposit that motion in the mail until over two months later, in mid-April, 2019. (Doc. 55-1, p. 1). Based on this delay, it cannot be said that Plaintiff acted “promptly” after any errors or irregularities in his deposition became “known or, with reasonable diligence, could have been known.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 32 (d)(4). Second, Plaintiff articulates no specific grounds to impugn the integrity of the transcription process, and Plaintiff's filings suggest that his motion is merely a dilatory tactic, or an attempted means of extended the Rule 30(e) review period for arguably impermissible purposes. See, e.g., Norelus v. Denny's, Inc., 628 F.3d 1270, 1281 (11th Cir. 2010) (“A deposition is not a take home examination'). Accordingly, and notwithstanding Plaintiff's objections, this Recommendation has considered Plaintiff's deposition testimony in evaluating the merits of the Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

         LEGAL STANDARD FOR ...


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