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Steele v. Faulcon

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

March 15, 2017

HENRY J. STEELE, Plaintiff,


          JAMES C. FOX Senior United States District Judge

         This matter is before the court on Defendants' motions for summary judgment' [DE-53, -105]. For the following reasons, Defendants' motions are ALLOWED.

         I. Statement of the Case

         On December 1,2014[1" name="FN1" id= "FN1">1], Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 198');">83, alleging that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs [DE-1]. Plaintiffs complaint survived frivolity review, and the Clerk of Court was directed to continue management of Plaintiffs claims [DE-13].

         Defendants Donald Mobley[2] and Caroline Taylor filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs claims against them, and it was allowed on August 30, 2016 [DE-94]. On February 29, 2016, this court allowed Plaintiffs motion to amend his complaint, and the Clerk of Court was directed to add Defendant Woglom to this action [DE-45], Defendants Faulcon and Woglom filed separate motions for summary judgment on March 23, 2016 and November 15,2016, respectively [DE-53, -105]. Plaintiff has responded to both motions [DE-65, -116], and both Defendants have replied [DE-71, -120]. In this posture, these matters are ripe for adjudication.

         II. Statement of the Facts

         In his remaining claims, Plaintiff alleges that while he was incarcerated at Bertie Correctional Institution ("Bertie")[3], Defendants Faulcon[4] and Woglom were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. In particular, Plaintiff contends that he has been denied medication necessary to control his hypertension. Compl. [DE-8');">8], p. 3; Am. Compl. [DE-18');">8-1], p. 1. Plaintiff also contends that Defendant Woglom has failed to examine him despite Plaintiffs frequent complaints about numerous chronic health conditions. Am. Compl. [DE-18');">8], pp. 1-2.

         Defendant Woglom is a licensed physician's assistant who, during the time period relevant to Plaintiffs complaint, was employed by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety ("DPS"). Woglom Aff. [DE-107-1] ¶ 2. Defendant Woglom provided care for Plaintiff between August 27,2014, the date of Plaintiff s arrival at Bertie, until June 11,2015, when Defendant Woglom assumed different duties within DPS. Id. ¶ 5.

         Plaintiff was examined by a nurse on September 2, 2014 and requested the renewal of health restrictions that were in place prior to his transfer to Bertie. Id.8');">8. He also complained of a mass in his throat and sought further examination by a physician or a physician's assistant. Id. During the examination, Plaintiff stated that he was steadily losing weight. Id. Plaintiffs vital signs were normal, but the nurse noted that Plaintiff had lost sixteen pounds since his last examination. Id. Plaintiff was advised that his health restrictions were still active, and his other health concerns would be referred to a physician's assistant for review. Id.

         Defendant Woglom reviewed Plaintiffs medical chart on September 5, 2014. Id. ¶ 9. Defendant Woglom renewed several of Plaintiff s prescriptions. Id. However, Defendant Woglom declined to renew Plaintiffs prescriptions for treating hemorrhoids because Plaintiff no longer had any complaints with regard to that condition. Id. Likewise, Defendant Woglom declined to renew several medications because they had not yet expired. Id. Finally, Defendant Woglom took steps to ensure that Plaintiffs throat mass would be examined by an ear, nose, and throat ("ENT") specialist. Id. The ENT consultation was approved on September 15, 2014 and scheduled for October 2, 2014. Id.10.

         On October 1, 2014, Defendant Woglom changed Plaintiffs prescription for a nasal allergy spray from Flunisolide to triamcinolone, based on a DPS policy decision to phase out Flunisolide. Id ¶ 11.

         Plaintiff was examined by an ENT physician on October 2, 2014. Id.12. The ENT performed a scope examination of Plaintiff s throat, which revealed pashremcoid edema consistent with acid reflux. Id. Plaintiff was prescribed a medication to reduce his acid reflux, and a mouthwash to control his throat discomfort. Id. Finally, the ENT physician recommended Plaintiff undergo a CT scan of his neck and return for a follow-up afterward. Id. Defendant Woglom reviewed the notes from Plaintiffs ENT consultation and entered the appropriate orders to ensure that Plaintiff received the prescribed medication. Id, ¶ 13. Defendant Woglom also entered an order requesting a CT scan of Plaintiff s neck. Id.14. This request was approved, and Plaintiff was scheduled for a CT scan on October 30,2014. Id.

         On October 14, 2014, Plaintiff was examined by a nurse in response to his complaints of back pain and numbness in his right leg and hand. Id.15. Plaintiff also requested further adjustment to his health restrictions and the renewal of various prescriptions. Id. In addition, Plaintiff voiced a general concern that his medical needs were being overlooked and that Nash was not properly equipped to care for him. Id. Upon examination, Plaintiffs vital signs were normal and he was asymptomatic. Id. Based on Plaintiffs complaints, the nurse referred him to a DPS physician. Id. The examining nurse also offered Plaintiff pain medication for his back, but Plaintiff declined the medication. Id.

         Defendant Woglom examined Plaintiff again on October 22,2014. Id. ¶ 16. Plaintiff was in no apparent distress, his neck had a normal range of motion, and his head, ears, throat, lungs and heart were normal. Id. He was diagnosed with chronic back pain and a history of a gunshot wound with associated neuropathy of his right lower extremity. Id. Following this examination, Defendant Woglom renewed Plaintiffs expired prescriptions. Id. Defendant Woglom also did the following: (1) ordered an x-ray of Plaintiff s spine; (2) prescribed an oral analgesic for Plaintiffs throat pain; (3) ordered routine monitoring of Plaintiff s blood pressure; and (4) ordered various diagnostic tests, including a complete metabolic panel and an erythrocyte sedimentation rate test. Id. The results of the diagnostic tests ordered by Defendant Woglom arrived on November 5, 2014. Id. With the exception of ...

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