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Ludy v. Morris

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division

July 9, 2019

DEANNE MORRIS, Health Service Administrator; CHERIE PRICE, Deputy Warden; WESLEY O'NEAL, Unit Manager; and JESSICA BYRD, Correctional Officer, Defendants.


         Plaintiff, an inmate at Dooly State Prison in Unadilla, Georgia, is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this case brought case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, concerning events alleged to have occurred at Johnson State Prison (“JSP”) in Wrightsville, Georgia. For the reasons set forth below, the Court REPORTS and RECOMMENDS Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment be DENIED, (doc. no. 126), Defendants' motion for summary judgment be GRANTED, (doc. no. 131), a final judgment be ENTERED in favor of Defendants, and this civil action be CLOSED.


         Plaintiff originally named the following Defendants: (1) Shawn Emmons, Warden at JSP; (2) DeAnne Morris, Health Services Administrator for the Georgia Regents Health System (“GRHS”); (3) Cherie Price, Deputy Warden at JSP; (4) Mitzi Hall, Director of Nursing for GRHS; (5) Wesley O'Neal, Unit Manager at JSP; (6) Ms. Byrd, Correctional Officer at JSP; (7) Ms. Pullins, Nurse for GRHS; (8) Jason Hurst, Cert. Officer at JSP; (9) Larry Timmons, Cert. Officer at JSP; (10) Lakeisha Smith, Cert. Officer at JSP; (11) Jamie Clark, Deputy Warden of Administration at JSP; (12) Ms. Claxton, Nurse for GRHS; (13) Ms. Rogers, Nurse for GRHS; (14) Mr. Bryan, Jr., Nurse for GRHS; (15) Annie Bodie; and (16) Pamela Lindsay. (See doc. nos. 22, 39.) On May 1, 2017, United States District Judge Dudley H. Bowen, Jr., dismissed Defendants Emmons and Hall upon the Court's recommendation after screening Plaintiff's amended complaint. (Doc. no. 36.)

         On March 5, 2018, Judge Bowen dismissed, for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, all claims against all defendants except claims against (1) Defendants Price and Morris for discontinuance of Plaintiff's assisted living profile and related transfer from a climate-controlled dormitory; (2) Defendant O'Neal for confiscating Plaintiff's CPAP machine container; and (3) Defendant Byrd for refusing to call and escort Plaintiff to medical for breathing treatments. (Id.) Among the claims swept away by the dismissal order were claims against (1) all Defendants for ignoring Plaintiff's alleged heat intolerance medical profile and maintaining an unhealthy air environment polluted by tobacco, marijuana, and methamphetamine smoke; (2) against Defendant Byrd for turning off exhaust fans on the roof.

         On December 17, 2018, Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment, and on January 7, 2019, Defendants responded to Plaintiff's motion and filed their own motion for summary judgment. (Doc. nos. 126, 131.) Both parties filed a statement of material facts with their motions. (See doc no. 126, pp. 1-7; doc. no. 131-1.) Therefore, the Court deems admitted all undisputed facts which find support in the record. See Loc. R. 56.1; Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); see also Williams v. Slack, 438 Fed.Appx. 848, 849-50 (11th Cir. 2011) (finding no error in deeming defendants' material facts admitted where pro se prisoner failed to respond with specific citations to evidence and otherwise failed to state valid objections); Scoggins v. Arrow Trucking Co., 92 F.Supp.2d 1372, 1373 n.1 (S.D. Ga. 2000) (deeming admitted all unopposed fact statements supported by the evidentiary materials of record). As to the disputed facts, the Court will review each parties' statements of material facts and the evidentiary record “to determine if there is, indeed, no genuine issue of material fact.” Mann v. Taser Intern., Inc., 588 F.3d 1291, 1303 (11th Cir. 2009).

         II. FACTS

         A. Plaintiff's Assisted Living Profile

         On September 29, 2015, Physician Assistant (“PA”) Annie Bodi examined Plaintiff for hypertension, gastrointestinal reflux disease, asthma, and hyperlipidemia. (Pl. Medical Docs., doc. no. 131-8, pp. 11, 46.) PA Bodi renewed Plaintiff's assisted living profile and annual prescriptions for QVAR and Xopenex, which are inhalers used to control symptoms of asthma. (Id. at 46; Wood Decl., doc. no. 131-10, ¶ 8.) On October 26, 2015, medical personnel issued Plaintiff profiles for (1) “Detail Restriction: No Chemicals, Fumes, or Dust”; (2) “Heat Intolerance”; (3) “Med.- Assisted Living”; and (4) “Bottom Bunk”. (Doc. No. 131-3, pp. 1-3.) Georgia Department of Corrections (“GDC”) utilizes profiles, as explained in the Medical Classification and Profiling section of GDC's Standard Operating Procedure (“SOP”), to determine a prisoner's functional capabilities and limitations. (SOP, doc. no. 131-4, p. 2.)

         A profile for “Detail Restriction: No Chemicals, Fumes, or Dust” means the prisoner is restricted from work details with exposure to chemicals, fumes, or dust. (Price Decl., doc. no. 131-2, ¶ 6.) A “Heat Intolerance” profile means a prisoner is restricted from work details with “sun/exposure or heat-related side effects.” (SOP, pp. 16-17.) A “Med.- Assisted Living” or simply “assisted living” profile means the prisoner is capable of most self-care activities like eating or grooming, is mobile with occasional human assistance, requires more than fifteen hours of nursing supervision or observation per week, and needs minimal assistance with medication. (Id. at 11.) Lastly, a “Bottom Bunk” profile means the prisoner is incapable of climbing to the top bunk and is most common with inmates who require sleeping aids or a CPAP machine, or suffer from other chronic debilitating orthopedic problems. (Id. at 18.)

         When his profiles issued on October 26, 2015, Plaintiff was housed in Building D, a climate-controlled facility housing prisoners requiring special assistance or monitoring. (Price Decl., ¶ 6.) Building D satisfied all of Plaintiff's medical profiles. (See generally doc. nos. 22, 126.) Defendant Cherie Price, JSP Deputy Warden of Care and Treatment, was responsible for optimizing housing arrangements based on prisoner needs and profiles. (Price Decl., ¶ 7.) On October 28, 2015, Deputy Warden Price became aware of Plaintiff's profiles issued two days prior. (Id.) At the time, there was a lack of bottom bunks for prisoners in wheelchairs in Building D. (Id.) As is common when there is a lack of resources to accommodate all prisoner profiles, Deputy Warden Price asked Physician's Assistant (“PA”) Annie Bodi to review Plaintiff's medical information and determine if his assisted living profile was necessary. (Id.) If the profile was necessary, Deputy Warden Price would request Plaintiff's transfer to a prison with open accommodations. (Id. at ¶¶ 11, 16.; see also Transfer SOP, doc. no. 131-6, pp. 4-6.)

         Soon thereafter, PA Bodi reviewed Plaintiff's information, determined Plaintiff's assisted living profile was unnecessary, and discontinued it. (Price Decl., ¶ 7; Pl. Medical Docs., p. 45.) PA Bodi continued Plaintiff's heat intolerance and bottom bunk profiles. (Pl. Medical Docs., p. 45.) Upon discontinuation of his assisted living profile, Plaintiff was moved to Building G, which did not meet the assisted living profile standards. (Price Decl., ¶ 9; doc. no. 131-3, p. 4.) Defendant Deanne Morris, Health Service Administrator at JSP, transcribed PA Bodi's order and co-signed it. (Morris Decl., doc. no. 131-7, ¶¶ 2, 5.) Ms. Morris is responsible for administrative, budgetary, and operational planning duties in providing health care to JSP inmates. (Id. at ¶ 2.) She is also a registered nurse who sometimes assists with nursing duties and transcription of orders. (Id.)

         Neither Deputy Warden Price nor Ms. Morris has authority to order or cancel a prisoner's profile or accommodations. (Price Decl., ¶ 8; Morris Decl., ¶¶ 6, 7.) Only medical providers, such as physicians and physician assistants, have that authority. (Price Decl., ¶ 8.) Deputy Warden Price is not a medical professional and did not dictate the course of Plaintiff's medical treatment. (Id. at ¶¶ 8, 17.) She did not direct PA Bodi to discontinue Plaintiff's assisted living profile and deferred to PA Bodi's judgment when it was discontinued. (Id. at ¶¶ 8, 11.) Deputy Warden Price was unaware of any health risk posed to Plaintiff by the transfer to Building G. (Id. at ¶ 10.) Ms. Morris also does not dictate a patient's treatment and did not do so in this case. (Morris Decl., ¶ 2.) She only transcribed PA Bodi's order and did not direct PA Bodi to discontinue Plaintiff's assisted living profile. (Id. at ¶ 5.) Ms. Morris was also unaware of Plaintiff's medical conditions, treatment, or any threat posed to him by the transfer to Building G. (Id. at ¶ 10.)

         On November 2, 2015, Plaintiff wrote Ms. Morris and former Defendant Mitzi Hall, asking why they allowed his assisted living profile to be discontinued given his medical condition and stating his opinion Building D was a reasonable accommodation for his conditions. (Doc. no. 126-30.) Ms. Morris responded by stating Plaintiff had a heat intolerance profile and should let medical know if he was having any breathing issues. (Id.) On March 20, 2016, Plaintiff also wrote Deputy Warden Price to complain about his transfer to Building G and the heat at night when officers turned off the exhaust fans. (Doc. no. 131-5.) Deputy Warden Price responded by stating Building D bottom bunks are reserved for prisoners in wheelchairs, they removed prisoners not in wheelchairs, and there was nothing she could do to change his profile. (Id.)

         On June 2, 2016, Plaintiff wrote Ms. Morris to complain about secondhand smoke in Building G. (Doc. no. 131-9, p. 2.) He asked why a doctor did not evaluate him before discontinuation of his assisted living profile and demanded to see a “private free world doctor.” (Id.) Ms. Morris replied that Plaintiff refused medical treatment on June 2, 2016. (Id.) On June 6, 2016, Plaintiff again wrote Ms. Morris asking why he was not assessed after his profile was discontinued and stating he refused medical treatment because Ms. Morris and her staff were “playing Russian roulette with his life.” (Id. at 1.) Ms. Morris responded by telling Plaintiff he was properly assessed as his condition warranted, neither she nor Nurse Pullins, a former Defendant, discontinued his profile, and advanced level providers would continue to make all medical judgments. (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges Defendants Price and Morris discontinued his assisted living profile, and the resulting transfer to Building G exacerbated his asthma because of extreme exposure to smoke from tobacco, methamphetamines, and marijuana. (Doc. no. 22, pp. 11-12; Pl.'s Motion for Summary Judgment (“MSJ”), doc. no. 126, p. 2.) Tobacco, methamphetamines, and marijuana are strictly banned in all GDC facilities, including JSP. (Price Decl., ¶ 14.) Deputy Warden Price avers she was unaware of prevalent tobacco, methamphetamine, or marijuana use in any building at JSP, and had she been aware, she would have confiscated the contraband. (Id.)

         By affidavit, Plaintiff alleges he told Defendants Price and Morris about the secondhand smoke in Building G. (Doc. no. 139, p. 5.) Jonathan Cann, Plaintiff's cellmate in Building G, declared he smoked five to six packs of tobacco and two grams of marijuana and methamphetamine per week in his cell. (Cann Decl., doc. no. 126-8.) He further states it is common knowledge that prison officials bring tobacco, methamphetamines, and marijuana into the prison. (Id.) Additionally, multiple inmates at JSP declared JSP's exhaust fans do not work properly, the fans cut off during the night, there is a large amount of pollen, secondhand smoke is common, and there is an insect and mouse infestation. (Doc. nos. 126- 13 - 126-16; doc. no. 126-20.)

         B. Confiscation of CPAP Container

         On November 19, 2015, Defendant Wesley O'Neal, Unit Manager at JSP, and Warden Shawn Emmons inspected Plaintiff's cell. (O'Neal Decl., doc. no. 131-11, ¶ 5.) Unit Manager O'Neal noticed a clear plastic container that appeared to be a food storage container. (Id.) Inside the container was a CPAP machine and a surge protector. (Id.) Plaintiff uses a CPAP machine while he is sleeping to facilitate his breathing and stores his CPAP machine in the container when not in use. (Doc. no. 22; O'Neal Decl., ¶ 5.) Unit Manager O'Neal showed the container and surge protector to Warden Emmons, and Warden Emmons decided the container was contraband and directed Unit Manager O'Neal to confiscate it. (Id.)

         On December 8, 2015, Unit Manager O'Neal notified Plaintiff his CPAP container was deemed contraband pursuant to GDC SOP IIB06-0002 concerning “Management of Offender Property or Contraband” because it was a security issue due to its capability of storing other contraband. (Id. at ¶¶ 6, 10; see doc. no. 131-12.[1]) Because the container was deemed contraband, Plaintiff had the option to mail the item out of JSP for safekeeping or arrange for the item to be picked up. (O'Neal Decl., ¶ 10; doc. no. 131-3, p. 5.) Mr. O'Neal also instructed Plaintiff he had seven days to prove the container was obtained through proper channels or proof of purchase. (Doc. no. 131-3, p. 5.) While Plaintiff alleges in this civil action Dooly State Medical Prison issued him the container, he did not provide any medical documentation, proof of purchase, or other means to show he obtained the container through proper channels within the seven days established by Mr. O'Neal or any time thereafter. (O'Neal Decl., ¶ 10.) He also did not arrange for the container to be mailed out even though he completed a form indicating his intention to mail the container. (O'Neal Decl., ¶ 10; doc. no. 131-3, p. 5.) Plaintiff's container was destroyed one year later on December 15, 2016. (O'Neal Decl., ¶ 10; doc. no. 131-3, p. 5.)

         Plaintiff alleges confiscation of his CPAP container exacerbated his asthma because his CPAP machine was not protected from dust, pollen, smoke, and other contaminants. (Doc. no. 22, p. 13; doc. no. 126, pp. 4, 6.) Andrew Davis, inmate at JSP, declared he observed a considerable amount of pollen on the top and bottom bunks in Plaintiff's cell, and he observed and swiped a thick layer of pollen off Plaintiff's CPAP machine after Unit Manager O'Neal confiscated the container. (Davis Decl., doc. no. 126-17.)

         Unit Manager O'Neal is not a medical provider and was unaware of any profile stating Plaintiff was required to have the container. (O'Neal Decl., ¶ 8.) Unit Manager O'Neal was not aware of any medical department that issued the container to Plaintiff, and he was aware the container was not available through the commissary. (Id. at ¶ 5.)

         C. May 13, 2016 ...

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