United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
William E. Smith Chief Judge
the Court are three pleadings from Plaintiff Ryan Callahan:
(1) Objection to the denial of his motion for preliminary
injunction and temporary restraining order
("Objection" or "Obj . to R&R") (ECF
No. 45), which objects to the Report & Recommendation
("R&R") filed by Magistrate Judge Patricia A.
Sullivan on September 27, 2016; (2) Motion for Re-Hearing
(ECF No. 44); and (3) Motion for Prima Facie Evidence (ECF
No. 39). For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's
Objection is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE; Plaintiff's Motion
for Re-Hearing is DENIED; and Plaintiff's Motion for
Prima Facie Evidence is DENIED AS MOOT.
is an inmate at the Adult Correctional Institutions
("ACI") who is seeking damages and injunctive
relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for Defendants'
(Ashbel T. Wall, II, Dr. Jennifer Clarke, and the Rhode
Island Department of Corrections ("RIDOC")) alleged
deliberate indifference to his medical needs. (Compl.
¶¶ 1, 5, 48, ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff filed a motion
for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order,
requesting immediate medical treatment for pain in his left
foot. (Mem. of Law in Supp. of PI. Request for PI and TRO
1-2, 3, ECF No. 23.) Magistrate Judge Sullivan held a hearing
on Plaintiff's motion on September 13, 2016, at which
Plaintiff appeared telephonically. RIDOC represented that
Plaintiff would be examined the next day by two independent
podiatrists pursuant to a referral for treatment that had
been made in July 2016. (R&R 1, ECF No. 41.) RIDOC
subsequently confirmed with Magistrate Judge Sullivan that
Plaintiff was in fact examined by these two podiatrists on
September 14, 2016. (Id.)
R&R recommends that the Court deny Plaintiff's motion
for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order
because Plaintiff received the emergency relief that he
sought when he was referred to the podiatrists in July 2016
and was examined by the podiatrists in September 2016.
(Id. at 2, 9.) The R&R concluded that, based on
Plaintiff's frequent interactions with nurses and medical
professionals at the ACI on a variety of medical issues,
Plaintiff could not establish that he was either likely to
succeed on the merits of his Eighth Amendment violation claim
or that he would be immediately or irreparably harmed without
the injunctive relief. (Id. at 8-9.)
filed an objection to the R&R arguing that his need for
injunctive relief was substantiated by the report submitted
by Dr. Fish, one of the podiatrists who examined Plaintiff on
September 14, confirming Plaintiff's claims of a genuine
medical issue with his left foot. (Obj. to R&R 2, 4, ECF
No. 45.) Plaintiff urges this Court to reconsider his motion
for injunctive relief based on the information contained in
Dr. Fish's report. (Id. at 9.) Plaintiff also
argues that this Court should consider his communications
with Defendant Clarke from November 2015 through May 2016
regarding his efforts to obtain medical treatment.
(Id., see ECF No. 45-1.)
Eighth Amendment places a duty on prison officials to,
inter alia, "ensure that inmates receive
adequate . . . medical care." Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994) . To violate the Cruel
and Unusual Punishments Clause, a prison official must be
"deliberate[ly] indifferent" to the "serious
medical needs of prisoners, " id. at 834, 835,
because "negligen[ce] in diagnosing or treating a
medical condition [is not] a valid claim of medical
mistreatment under the Eighth Amendment." Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); see also DesRosiers
v. Moran, 949 F.2d 15, 19 (1st Cir. 1991) (" [ I ]
nadvertent failures to provide medical care, even if
negligent, do not sink to the level of deliberate
indifference."). "Deliberate indifference is
conduct that offends evolving standards of decency in a
civilized society." DesRosiers, 949 F.2d at 18.
succeed on an Eighth Amendment claim based on inadequate or
delayed medical care, a plaintiff must satisfy both a
subjective and objective inquiry[.]" Leavitt v.
Correctional Medical Services, Inc., 645 F.3d 484, 497
(1st Cir. 2011) . A plaintiff may satisfy the subjective,
"deliberate indifference" inquiry by showing that:
"the treatment provided [was] so inadequate as to
'constitute an unnecessary and wanton infliction of
pain' or to be 'repugnant to the conscience of
mankind, '" id. (quoting Estelle,
429 U.S. at 105-06); the needed care was denied as
punishment; or "decisions about medical care [were] made
recklessly with 'actual knowledge of impending harm,
easily preventable.'" Id. (quoting
Ruiz-Rosa v. Rullan, 485 F.3d 150, 156 (1st Cir.
2007)). A plaintiff may satisfy the objective inquiry by
showing that a medical need is sufficiently serious, that is,
the medical need "has been diagnosed by a physician as
mandating treatment, ... is so obvious that even a lay person
would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor's
attention, " or where "the effect of the delay of
treatment" is clear. Id. at 497-98 (quoting
Gaudreault v. Municipality of Salem, 923 F.2d 203,
208 (1st Cir. 1990)). The two inquiries are likely to
overlap. Id. at 498.
R&R thoroughly documents the background of
Plaintiff's foot pain and problems, and this Court adopts
these findings. Plaintiff's distress is palpable through
his repeated attempts to seek medical attention for the pain
in his foot, and he clearly hopes to receive treatment that
will alleviate his pain. Dr. Fish's report, however,
documents that while surgery may serve to correct the
position of Plaintiff's toes and may alleviate his pain,
the relevant surgery would neither correct the abnormal
positioning of his foot nor the numbness that Plaintiff is
experiencing. In addition, the report is clear that
Plaintiff's physical abnormalities and pain are more
likely caused by the trauma Plaintiff sustained in 2006 and
not by the first corrective surgery in 2013 for the problems
with Plaintiff's toes.
motion for injunctive relief requested immediate medical
attention, which he received on September 14, 2016.
Presumably, Dr. Fish's report has started Plaintiff down
the path of receiving treatment and, hopefully, reprieve from
his pain. This Court has carefully considered Defendant's
Objection, but ultimately agrees with the reasoned
conclusions in the R&R. Plaintiff has not met his burden
for injunctive relief because he is not likely to succeed on
the merits of his Eighth Amendment violation claim. Based on
the evidence before the Court, Plaintiff has not shown that
the Defendants either provided inadequate medical care,
denied medical treatment as a punishment, or made reckless
decisions about medical treatment such that Defendants'
behavior constitutes deliberate indifference to
Plaintiff's medical issues. See Leavitt, 645
F.3d at 497. In addition, none of the evidence, including Dr.
Fish's report, has indicated that medical treatment has
been mandated, but ignored. See id. This Court
hereby ACCEPTS the R&R in its entirety pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b) (1) . Plaintiff's Motion for a
Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order is,
however, DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
mentioned above, Plaintiff has also filed a Motion for
Re-Hearing, arguing that his Motion for injunctive relief
should be granted based on Dr. Fish's report that
substantiates Plaintiff's claims of pain and problems
with his left foot. (Mot. for Re-Hearing 1-3, ECF No. 44.)
Defendant Clarke objected to Plaintiff's motion for
re-hearing because she contends that Plaintiff has not yet
requested-or been denied-the surgery that Dr. Fish documented
could alleviate Plaintiff's pain even though it may not
correct all of the physical problems in his foot. (Mem. of
Law in Support of Obj . to Mot. for Re-Hearing 2, ECF No.
46-1.) For the reasons stated above regarding the denial of
Plaintiff's motion for injunctive relief, Plaintiff's
motion for re-hearing is DENIED.
before the Court is Plaintiff's "Motion for Prima
Facie Evidence, " in which Plaintiff requests sixteen
types of evidence from the Defendants. (ECF No. 39.)
Plaintiff's Motion is DENIED AS MOOT because the proper
form for Plaintiff's request, as stated by Defendant Wall
in his response, would be a request for the production of
documents served directly to the Defendants pursuant to Rule
34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
foregoing reasons, Plaintiff's Objection to the R&R
is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE, Plaintiff's Motion for
Re-Hearing is DENIED, and Plaintiff's ...