United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
JOSEPH W. SHEPARD, Plaintiff,
RICHARD MCCLOSKY, RN and NANCY HALL, RN,  Defendants.
J. MeConnell, Jr. United States District Judge.
W. Shepard, an inmate with the RJ. Department of Corrections,
seeks damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that nurses at
the correctional facility failed to provide him prompt
medical treatment when he was bleeding profusely from his
rectum, a week after having hemorrhoid surgery. The question
presented by these cross-motions for summary judgment is
whether there are sufficient facts to support the two-pronged
requirements set forth by the United States Supreme Court in
Farmer v. Brennan, i.e. (1) the deprivation alleged
must be, objectively, "sufficiently serious," and
(2) a prison official must have a "sufficiently culpable
state of mind" that constitutes "deliberate
indifference" to inmate health or safety. 511 U.S. 825,
834 (1994) (citing Wilson v. Setter, 501 U.S. 298,
303 (1991)). For reasons sot forth below, the Court GRANTS
the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 55)
and DENIES the Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF
undergoing hemorrhoid surgery at Rhode Island Hospital,
Joseph Shepard was discharged and returned to the state
prison. Hospital personnel informed him to advise prison
medical providers if there were any acute changes including
"bleeding, puss, or drainage, or severe pain." Nine
days later, Mr. Shepard awoke at 6 a.m. with severe anal pain
with his sheets and clothing soaked in his own blood. He
called out of his cell for help from correctional officers.
Officers contacted high security medical staff.
Richard McCloskey, who was in the cell block distributing
medicines to inmates, arrived at Mr. Shepard's cell. He
noticed the bloody area and blood-soaked bedding. He
performed a cursory observation of Mr. Shepard's open
wound and told him he would get some gauze. Mr, Shepard told
Nurse McCloskey that he was in extreme pain and that hospital
personnel had told him to return to the hospital if the wound
re-opened. Nurse McCloskey told Mr. Shepard that he could not
go to the hospital and that "this is what happens when
you have hemorrhoids, you're going to have to deal with
it." Mr. Shepard continued to bleed profusely.
that afternoon, prison officials transferred Mr. Shepard to
the intake facility because of new criminal charges. Nurse
Nancy Ruotolo Hull conducted a medical screening of Mr.
Shepard. According to Mr. Shepard, Nurse Hull appeared
"grossed out" at the sight of his condition and
became verbally abusive, stating, "Looks like you got
your period, you should be at the women's facility."
She provided Mr. Shepard with additional protective brief
underwear. She then placed Mr, Shepard into a windowed
observation cell where Nurse Hull told him to "rest it
off." At about 5:00 p.m. that evening, a second-shift
nurse Steven Fortin evaluated Mr. Shepard and called prison
physician Dr. Simon Melnick and Medical Director Dr. Fred
Vohr. Dr. Melnick ordered Mr. Shepard to be transported to
and evaluated at Rhode Island Hospital.
personnel at Rhode Island Hospital examined Mr. Shepard. He
had abnormal vital signs. The doctors treated him for anemia
and performed silver nitrate cauterization to his wound,
Medical personnel applied a dressing to the wound. The
hospital doctors prescribed pain medication. He returned to
the prison at about 10 p.m. that evening.
shows any medical issues with Mr. Shepard beyond that
STANDARD OF REVIEW
"court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is material only if it possesses
the capacity to sway the outcome of the litigation; a dispute
is genuine if the evidence about the fact is such that a
reasonable jury could resolve the point in the favor of the
nonmoving party. Estrada v. Rhode Island, 594 F.3d
56, 62 (1st Cir. 2010) (quoting Vineberg v.
Bissonnette, 548 F.3d 50, 56 (1st Cir. 2008));
Santiago-Ramos v. Centennial PR. Wireless Corp., 217
F, 3d 46, 52 (1st Cir. 2000) (quoting Sanchez v.
Alvarado, 101 F.3d 223, 227 (1st Cir. 1996)). When there
are cross-motions for summary judgment, as there are here,
"[the Court] evaluate[s] each motion independently and
determine[s] 'whether either of the parties deserves
judgment as a matter of law on facts that are not
disputed."' Matusevich v. Middlesex Mut. Assur,
Co., 782 F.3d 56, 59 (1st Cir. 2015) (quoting Barnes
v. Fleet Nat'l Bank, N.A., 370 F.3d 164, 170 (1st
Cir. 2004)). In viewing each motion separately, the Court
"drawls] all inferences in favor of the nonmoving
party." Cooper v. D'Amore, 881 F.3d 247,
249-50 (1st Cir. 2018) (quoting Fadili v. Deutsche Bank
Nat'l Tr. Co., 772 F.3d 951, 953 (1st Cir. 2014)).
APPLICATION OF FACTS AND LAW
Eight Amendment to the United States Constitution mandates
that the government not inflict cruel and unusual punishment.
In the context of medical treatment a prisoner receives (or
fails to receive), the United States Supreme Court in
Farmer v. Brennan established a twoprong test a
plaintiff must meet to hold a prison official liable for
violating the Eighth Amendment.
the deprivation, or maltreatment alleged must be
"objectively and 'sufficiently serious.'"
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834 (quoting Wilson,
501 U.S. at 298). The First Circuit has held that "a
'serious medical need' is one 'that has been
diagnosed by a physician as a mandating treatment, or one
that is so obvious that even a layperson would easily
recognize the necessity for a doctor's
attention."' Mahan v. Plymouth Cty. House of
Corr., 64 F.3d 14, 18 (1st Cir. 1995) (quoting
Gaudreault v. Municipality of Salem, Mass., 923 F.2d
203, 208 (1st Cir. 1990)). The "seriousness" of an
inmate's needs may be determined by reference to the
effect of the dela3' of treatment. Gaudreault,
923 F.2d at 208.
under Farmer the defendants must possess a culpable
state of mind, meaning that they were deliberate in their
indifference to the prisoner's health or safety. 511 U.S.
at 834. The deliberate indifference standard for a claim
based on inadequate medical care "encompasses a
'narrow band of conduct'- subpar care amounting to
negligence or even malpractice does not give rise to a
constitutional claim; rather, the treatment provided must
have been so inadequate as to constitute an unnecessary and
wanton infliction of pain or to be repugnant to the
conscience of mankind." Leavitt v. Con: Med. ...