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Adams v. Tangilag

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division

February 22, 2018



          Greg N. Stivers, Judge United States District Court.

         Plaintiff, Demetrius Adams, filed a pro se, in forma pauperis complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter is before the Court for screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). For the reasons set forth below, the complaint will be dismissed.


         Plaintiff is a prisoner at the Kentucky State Penitentiary (KSP). His complaint arises out of alleged lack of treatment and negligent medical treatment of a hernia. He names as Defendants Correct Care Solutions (CCS), which provides medical care to Kentucky prisoners, and the following CCS employees in their individual and official capacities: Dr. Shastine Tangilag, Dr. Louis Forte, Nurse Brenda Beehler, and Nurse Tania Pineiroa. He also names as Defendants APRN Denise Burkett, Health Service Clinical Director of the Kentucky Department of Corrections (KDOC); Baptist Health of Paducah; and two employees of Baptist Health --Dr. Carla Pierola and Nurse Robert Timothy. He also sues all unknown defendants with policy making authority for CCS; all unknown insurers and/or underwriters for Defendants; and all unknown defendants with policy-making authority for Baptist Health, Paducah. Plaintiff attaches several documents to his complaint, both health-care grievances and medical records.

         Plaintiff alleges that he has complained of abdominal pain for several years since at least September 18, 2015. A KDOC medical record attached to the complaint states that Plaintiff was seen by a nurse on that date for “mid epigastrc pain.” The “Assessment” portion of the record provides: “normal bowel sounds, non tender to all four quadrants of the abdomen.” It also provides that Plaintiff stated that the pain had been in his “upper mid abdominal area, lower gastric region . . . since onset early this morning before breakfast” and “PT did have normal BM after onset of pain this morning.” That medical record shows that Plaintiff was given two medications, lidocaine and milk of magnesia, and told to contact “medical” if pain persisted or worsened.

         Plaintiff next alleges that on February 8, 2016, he complained about hernia pain[1] and was seen by non-Defendant APRN Karen Ramey. A KDOC medical record from that date states that Plaintiff presented with right groin pain and “[a]s he normally does, pt. states he reduced the hernia himself but that it would not remain reduced.” That medical record also states that Plaintiff was observed to not be wearing his support. The Assessment/Plan for Plaintiff's “right inguinal hernia” was: “Pt encouraged to wear support[;] pt educated to avoid any heavy lifting, straining, pulling, etc.; as long as hernia remains reducible will cont to monitor.”

         According to the complaint, on March 7, 2016, Plaintiff again complained about hernia pain and was again seen by APRN Ramey. The “Symptoms” portion of a KDOC medical record from that date states: “Pt seen early last month for pain with hernia. He was evaluated at that time and hernia was reducible. Pt. does not aggravate hernia by heavy lifting or straining and began wearing his support again. Hernia remains reducible.” The “Action/Plan” for Plaintiff was as follows: “long discussion with pt re: warning signs of incarcerated hernia. As long as hernia remains reducible, we will cont to monitor. Encouraged him to keep wearing his support, as he reports improvement in pain and discomfort. [H]e denied the need for a second opinion with Dr. Amos.”

         Plaintiff next alleges that nearly seven months later, on October 3, 2016, he felt “a slight pull that began to expand in his abdomen” creating a “sharp and constant pain.” He states that he “made it to the legal office” where a corrections officer contacted Registered Nurse Bruce Bauer, [2] who explained over the phone that Plaintiff should push the hernia back in and put a bag of ice over the area. He alleges that during this time he was “lying on the floor sweating profusely while screaming in pain and agony.” He states that during this time another corrections officer arrived on the scene, contacted “medical, ” and explained the situation, whereupon a wheelchair was brought to transport Plaintiff to medical.

         Plaintiff states that, once at medical, Defendant Dr. Tangilag observed the area, confirmed the need for immediate surgery, and made preparations for Plaintiff to be transported to the hospital. He alleges that during his “long wait” he was given several injections for pain, but the pain did not subside. A KDOC progress note from Defendant Dr. Tangilag shows that Plaintiff was brought to medical around 1:00 p.m. and examined, and that it was decided that a “GS eval” and “CT scan” were needed to rule out “incarceration” hernia. That progress note also provides “called Baptist ER and spoke with Dr. Mabry. Advised to call surgeon (Dr. Tyrrel) - left message with his asst. At 3 PM, still no call from the surgeon. Called Dr. Mabry at ER. Was advised to send inmate to ER and he will contact Dr. Tyrell.”

         Plaintiff states that around 3:30 p.m., he was transported to Baptist Hospital in Paducah. There, he was seen by Defendant Dr. Pierola. He states that at around 10:45 that evening “the attending physician or staff representative made the conscience decision to turn the Plaintiff away and send him back” to KSP. He states that Defendant Dr. Pierola instructed him to push the hernia back in place and apply ice.

         The KDOC progress note from October 3, 2016, at 11:45 p.m. states that Plaintiff was returned to KSP with “no new orders F/U to make an apt. with DR.” That progress note stated that Plaintiff's abdomen was “soft and nondistended with bowel sounds x4, hypoactive no tenderness or guarding noted, ” and that Plaintiff reported his pain to be level “1.” That note further states that Plaintiff was transferred back to his cell with instructions to call for medical assistance if needed and to take ibuprofen, which Plaintiff had a supply of, as needed.

         Plaintiff alleges that on the morning of November 21, 2016, he was stricken with the same pain, but even more severe than before. A corrections officer contacted medical who advised Plaintiff to place an ice pack on the area and push the hernia back in. However, upon seeing the amount of pain Plaintiff was in, the officer called medical again and explained that the injury was serious. The officer was instructed to tell Plaintiff to report to medical once it opened. Plaintiff alleges it took him a long time to walk to medical because of his intense pain. He states that once there Defendant Dr. Forte saw Plaintiff “and decided to shove the hernia back in, ” causing Plaintiff “massive” pain in his abdomen. Plaintiff states that he begged Defendant Dr. Forte to stop shoving his fingers in the area, eventually pushing his hand away.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Dr. Forte “finally ordered that the Plaintiff be taken out for surgery because the hernia could not be pushed back in his abdomen.” Plaintiff was taken to the Caldwell Medical Center in Princeton, Kentucky, where a surgeon immediately took him into surgery. Upon waking from surgery, Plaintiff was told by the surgeon that in addition to the hernia, surgery revealed that Plaintiff had a strangulated intestine, which the surgeon also repaired. Plaintiff states that after four days in the hospital, he was returned to KSP where “there was no follow ups to check the progression of his surgery or to see if there were any more complications from surgery.”

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Tangilag, Forte, and CCS violated his Eighth Amendment rights and that Defendants Baptist Health of Paducah, Pierola, and Mabry violated Section 17 of the Kentucky Constitution and committed the tort of medical malpractice. The complaint contains no allegations against Defendants Beehler, Pineiroa, or Burkett but does ask for declaratory and injunctive relief ...

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