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Woodard v. Corizon, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

November 15, 2016

CORIZON, INC., et al., Defendants

          Crenshaw Judge.


          JOE B. BROWN United States Magistrate Judge.

         For the reasons stated below, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Docket Entry 70) be granted and this case be dismissed with prejudice. It is further recommended that any appeal from a judgment in this matter not be certified as taken in good faith.


         The Plaintiff's complaint in this matter (Docket Entry 1) was stamped as filed on August 22, 2014. Applying the mailbox rule for filing by a prisoner, the effective date is August 20, 2014, the date it was signed. See Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266, 267 (1988).

         The original complaint (Docket Entry 1) was dismissed September 3, 2014, for failure to state a cause of action (Docket Entry 5). Subsequently, the Plaintiff requested a relief from judgment in this matter (Docket Entry 8), which was granted (Docket Entry 10) and the Plaintiff was allowed to file an amended complaint. The amended complaint was filed April 27, 2015 (Docket Entry 14) and it is the operative complaint in this matter.

         Afer a review of the amended complaint the Magistrate Judge recommended that claims against three of the Defendants be dismissed with prejudiced (Docket Entry 18). The report and recommendation was adopted on May 22, 2015 (Docket Entry 23), after the Plaintiff failed to file any objections. After some difficulty in obtaining service of process on the Defendant Akinyele, all Defendants filed answers and the scheduling order was entered in the case (Docket Entry 63).

         In the scheduling order the Plaintiff was specifically warned that dispositive motions must be responded to and that failure to respond to such a motion and to statements of fact may result in the Court in taking the facts alleged in the matter as true and granting the relief requested. The Plaintiff was further cautioned that he could not just rely on the complaint, he must show that there is a material dispute of fact with citations to the record, affidavit or other matters of evidence. He was directed to read and comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 and Local Rule 56.01(a).

         The present Defendants in the matter are Corizon, Inc., Brenda Boyd, Inocentes Sator, Otis Campbell, Kevin Rae, and Emmanuel Akinyele, all of them represented by the same attorney. As the Magistrate Judge pointed out in the report and recommendation (Docket Entry 18), the Plaintiff alleged that he suffered from acute glaucoma and that while incarcerated surgery was performed to alleviate his condition (Docket Entry 17, par. 38). However, despite this surgery the Plaintiff claims that the Defendants have violated his Eighth Amendment right to medical treatment in that the Defendant Corizon, Inc. has a policy against approving expensive medical procedures such as his surgery (Docket Entry 17, par. 64). At paragraph 65 he further alleged that the Defendants Boyd, Campbell, and Akinyele acted in pursuance of that policy to delay the plaintiff's surgery. He alleges that as a consequence he has suffered permanent loss of vision in his left eye (paragraph 50-54).

         The Defendants, in their motion for summary judgment, have raised the statute of limitations as a defense. The verified complaint (Docket Entry 17, par. 16) alleges that on July 19, 2011, Dr. Gregory, a specialist familiar with the Plaintiff's history, wrote a letter stating that the glaucoma drops the Plaintiff was taking were not taking care of the problem and that the Plaintiff needed to be evaluated by a glaucoma specialist who would most likely perform a surgical procedure.

         On March 12, 2012, (Docket Entry 17, par. 17) Dr. Bishop, another specialist familiar with the Plaintiff's medical history, wrote an order directing that the Plaintiff be seen by an ophthalmologist when he is having an acute glaucoma episode. On September 12, 2013, (Docket Entry 17, par. 18) Dr. Kuchtey, another specialist familiar with the Plaintiff's medical history, wrote to the prison officials that the Plaintiff needed to be seen by an ophthalmologist at Metro when inflamed. On November 28, 2012, (Docket Entry 17, par. 19) the Defendant Sator noted that the Plaintiff needed to be seen at Metropolitan General Hospital (MGH) by Dr. Grove, when his eye was inflamed.

         On January 3, 2013, (Docket Entry 17, par. 20) Dr. Grove, a specialist familiar with the Plaintiff's medical history, wrote to prison officials and stated that is imperative, that if the Plaintiff begins to have an episode, he be brought to the eye clinic at MGH immediately so that assessments during increased eye pressure could be made. This could lead to a definite diagnosis.

         On March 26, 2013, (Docket Entry 17, par. 22) Dr. Grove wrote a physician's order directing Plaintiff be brought to her if he had an increase in pain/vision/swelling/flashes/floaters. On May 16, 2013, (Docket Entry 17, par. 23) Dr. Grove again wrote to prison officials stating that the Plaintiff did not follow up with Dr. Joos, the glaucoma specialist on April 19, 2013, and that it was critical that he be present for the scheduled clinic appointment on June 21, 2013, where Dr. Joos could evaluate him for tube shunt glaucoma surgery to protect his left eye from further vision loss. On August 16, 2013, (Docket Entry 17, par. 24) Dr. Grove a physicians placed an order directing that if the Plaintiff has nerve eye pain please come immediately to the emergency room.

         Plaintiff alleges (Docket Entry 17, par. 32-33) that the Defendant Corizon required his medical advisors to obtain approval prior to sending patients for specialized medical care and that these approvals significantly delayed specialized medical care. He alleges (Docket Entry 17, par. 34-36) that he was taken to both MGH and Vanderbilt eye institute for specialized medical care on several occasions, but that these appointments did not take place in a timely manner, and that by the time he was seen his eye pressure was back to normal making a definitive ...

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