United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. HOOD SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Roller is an inmate at the Federal Medical Center (FMC) in
Lexington, Kentucky, where he has been incarcerated since
March 2011. Proceeding without a lawyer, Roller has filed a
complaint challenging the sufficiency of the medical care he
received at the prison. [R. 1]. Roller asserts a civil rights
claim against prison physician Dr. Vibeke Dankwa pursuant to
Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403
U.S. 388 (1971), as well as a claim against the United States
of America pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28
U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 2671-80. The defendants have now
filed a motion to dismiss Roller's complaint or, in the
alternative, a motion for summary judgment [R. 15], Roller
has filed his response [R. 19], and the defendants have filed
their reply [R. 21]. This matter is therefore ripe for a
decision. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will
grant the defendants' motion.
2003, Roller has had health problems with his left eye. In
March 2014, Roller underwent a “repeat penetrating
keratoplasty with cataract extraction, ” which is
basically a cornea transplant. [R. 1 at 3]. While the
procedure was initially successful, Roller eventually
rejected the donor tissue he had received. [Id.].
in November 2015, Roller required and received extensive
medical care from the doctors, nurses, and pharmacists at
FMC-Lexington, as well as multiple medical professionals at
the University of Kentucky Medical Center (UKMC). [R. 15-8].
In the defendants' motion, they provide a detailed
summary of the healthcare that Roller received for his eye.
[R. 15-1 at 3-11]. While the Court will not recite all of
Roller's medical history, his medical records show that,
from November 2015 through March 2016, medical professionals
examined and/or treated Roller's eye on at least 10
different occasions. [R. 15-1 at 3-9; R. 15-8 at 2-133].
Ultimately, however, Roller's left eye had to be removed.
[R. 15-8 at 112-14].
Dankwa was extensively involved in caring for Roller. Indeed,
Dr. Dankwa regularly reviewed Roller's medical records,
including the notes made by other physicians and medical
professionals; examined Roller on multiple occasions; ordered
him new medications; renewed his previous medications;
reconciled those medications; requested multiple
ophthalmology consultations; and scheduled Roller for
multiple appointments at FMC-Lexington and the UKMC. [R. 15-6
and 15-8]. Even when Roller did not show up to one of his
appointments, Dr. Dankwa still ordered him new medications,
renewed his previous medications, and scheduled him for
another appointment. [R. 15-8 at 29-31].
Roller claims that he received “woefully inadequate and
ineffective” medical care. [R. 1 at 6]. Specifically,
Roller alleges that Dr. Dankwa did not follow the treatment
plan established by UKMC ophthalmologist Dr. Gregory Katz and
was also responsible for a delay in his medical care during a
“critical time” between January 25, 2016 and
February 11, 2016. [R. 1 at 3-7, 9].
January 25, 2016, Dr. Dankwa requested that Roller have an
ophthalmology consultation for a worsening central corneal
ulcer. [R. 15-8 at 62]. Dr. Dankwa described the matter as
“urgent” and, that same day, prison officials
transported Roller to the UKMC. [Id. at 62-63].
hospital, ophthalmologist Dr. Douglas Katz treated Roller.
[Id. at 63-66]. Dr. Katz indicated that while Roller
had been using prescription eye drops while awake, he
“refused to take drops at night.” [Id.
at 63]. Dr. Katz then described the “central corneal
ulcer of [the] left eye” as “stable, ” but
said that the “rejection of [the] cornea
transplant” was “worsening.” [Id.
at 65]. Dr. Katz also noted that Roller had an
“extremely poor vision prognosis.”
[Id.]. Finally, at the end of Dr. Katz's notes,
he wrote: “RTC [return to clinic] 1 week.”
officials brought Roller back to FMC-Lexington, and Dr.
Dankwa evaluated Roller and worked with a nurse to reconcile
his latest medications. [Id. at 68-71]. Dr. Dankwa
also noted that while Roller said he “was told to do
eye drops every 2 hours, no paperwork [was] available for
review” as she was “await[ing] [the] consult
report from UKMC.” [Id. at 72]. Date stamps
indicate the FMC-Lexington did not receive Dr. Katz's
report until two days later. [Id. at 63-66].
Dr. Katz said in his notes, “RTC [return to clinic] 1
week, ” and one week later would have been February 1,
2016, the next substantive event in Roller's medical
history did not come until February 8, 2016. On that date,
Dr. Dankwa noted that Roller needed to see an ophthalmologist
due to his failing corneal transplant. [Id. at 74].
While Dr. Dankwa requested that the consultation occur the
next day [Id. at 74], it ended up taking place three
days later. [Id. at 77].
February 11, 2016, Dr. Katz examined Roller. [Id. at
77]. Dr. Katz noted that, in January 2016, Roller had
“a serious and large infection of the left
transplant” and, therefore, prison officials sent him
to the UKMC “for culturing” and to be
“started on fortified Vancomycin and Tobramycin.”
[Id.]. Dr. Katz then said that Roller “had one
follow up appointment a couple of days later, but has not
kept his follow up appointments since then and has not been
seen since January 25, 2016.” [Id.]. Dr. Katz
added that Roller was “currently taking Vancomycin and
Tobramycin every two hours, ” but noted that
“[t]he prognosis for [Roller's] eye is extremely
grim.” [Id.]. While Dr. Katz switched
Roller's medication, he concluded that Roller “may
end up requiring enucleation or possibly a repeat transplant
to try and eliminate this infection.” [Id.].
that day, Dr. Dankwa reviewed Dr. Katz's notes, ordered
Roller his new medication, and arranged for Roller to be seen
by an ophthalmologist once again the very next day.
[Id. at 80-81]. While Roller returned to the UKMC on
February 12, 2016, and also received treatment over the
course of the next few weeks, he eventually had to have his
left eye removed in March 2016. [Id. at 81-127].
thereafter, Roller pursued his administrative remedies and
filed an administrative tort claim with the Bureau of
Prisons. [R. 15-4 and 15-5]. Roller claimed, among other
things, that he “received sub-standard medical
treatment by staff here at the Federal Medical Center in the
treatment of my left eye resulting in the loss of my left