United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. BUNNING, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Gonzalez is an inmate who was recently confined at the
Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Manchester,
Kentucky. Proceeding without a lawyer, Gonzalez filed a
complaint against the United States pursuant to the Federal
Tort Claims Act (FTCA), challenging the sufficiency of the
medical care he received at FCI-Manchester. (Doc. #1). The
United States filed a motion to dismiss Gonzalez's
complaint or, in the alternative, a motion for summary
judgment (Doc. #12). Gonzalez having responded (Doc. #19),
and the United States having replied (Doc. #22), this matter
is ripe for review. For the reasons set forth below, the
Court will grant the United States'
motion for summary judgment.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
alleges that he experienced abdominal and colon-related
problems while he was incarcerated at FCI-Manchester, and he
claims that the medical staff at the prison provided him with
care that fell below the applicable standard and caused him
harm. (Doc. # 1) According to Gonzalez's complaint, he
visited the prison's Health Services Unit on three
different occasions-once in September 2014, once in October
2014, and once in November 2014. Id. at 3-8.
Gonzalez indicates that, on each occasion, he complained of
abdominal pain and blood in his stool. (Id.).
Gonzalez states that a member of the medical staff evaluated
or examined him during each visit and repeatedly directed him
to use hemorrhoid cream. (Id.). Gonzalez says that
he followed these instructions and purchased hemorrhoid cream
from the commissary. (Id.). Nevertheless, Gonzalez
claims that his symptoms continued. (Id.).
Gonzalez alleges the foregoing facts in his complaint, the
Government disputes his timeline and puts forth extensive
evidence to support its version of events, including
Gonzalez's medical records. (Doc. # 12). Those records
show that the medical staff at the Health Services Unit
conducted Gonzalez's initial health screening in March
2014 and then treated Gonzalez in April, May, June,
September, and November of 2014. (Docs. # 12-5 at 2; #12-6 at
1-30). On those occasions, Gonzalez's health complaints
were related to either a fungal infection on his foot or a
rash on his hands, and the medical staff provided Gonzalez
with various treatments. (Id.). Notably,
Gonzalez's medical records suggest that he did not
complain of abdominal pain, blood in his stool, or a similar
problem at any of these appointments. (Id.). In
fact, the records indicate that Gonzalez first complained of
abdominal pain and blood in his stool in December 2014.
(Docs. #12-5 at 2-3; #12-6 at 31-39).
the parties' disagree on the exact timeline of events,
they agree that Gonzalez visited the Health Services Unit on
December 2, 2014. (Docs. # 1 at 8; # 1-1 at 5; # 12-6 at 31).
During that visit Gonzalez complained to medical staff of
“abdominal pain . . . and blood in his stool x 5
days.” (Doc. # 12-6 at 31). A Physician Assistant (PA)
provided Gonzalez with care, and checked his temperature,
pulse, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and oxygen
saturation level. Id. at 31-32. The PA also examined
Gonzalez's abdomen and gastrointestinal system and ran a
series of blood and lab tests. Id. at 33-34. The PA
then ordered x-rays of Gonzalez's abdomen. Id.
at 34. Although the x-rays came back negative, Gonzalez's
labs were abnormal. Id. at 37. Therefore, the PA
consulted with the prison's physician and decided to send
Gonzalez to a local hospital emergency room. Id.
hospital, Gonzalez indicated that his symptoms “started
about 5 days ago” and were getting worse. (Doc. # 12-7
at 2). The emergency room staff then examined and treated
Gonzalez, diagnosed him with colitis, and prescribed him
multiple medications. (Doc. # 12-6 at 40). The hospital then
transferred Gonzalez back to prison. Id.
days later, Gonzalez returned to the Health Services Unit
still complaining of abdominal pain and blood in his stool.
Id. at 48. The PA and other members of the
prison's medical staff provided Gonzalez with care and
determined that his condition had not improved. Id.
at 48-50. As a result, prison officials transferred Gonzalez
back to the hospital, where medical professionals performed a
colonoscopy and several blood transfusions, in addition to
administering numerous antibiotic treatments. (Doc. # 12-5 at
4). Gonzalez was diagnosed with acute blood loss anemia from
a lower gastrointestinal bleed caused by ulcerative colitis,
and he remained at the hospital for over one month.
was discharged from the hospital in January 2015, and he
continued to receive medical care at FCI-Manchester for a few
weeks. Id. at 4-6. However, Gonzalez was then
transferred to another federal prison out of state.
Id. at 6. Gonzalez was hospitalized again and,
eventually, in March 2015, underwent a total colectomy.
was not satisfied with the medical care he received from
officials at FCI-Manchester and, thus, he pursued
administrative remedies with the Bureau of Prisons. (Doc. # 1
at 1-2). However, Gonzalez's requests for relief were
denied and, therefore, he filed this lawsuit against the
United States pursuant to the FTCA. (Doc. # 1). Ultimately,
Gonzalez claims that the medical staff at the prison provided
him with care that fellow below the applicable standard and
caused him harm, and he is seeking millions of dollars in
United States now moves to dismiss Gonzalez's complaint
or, in the alternative, asks for summary judgment. (Doc. #
12-1). The Government argues that Gonzalez's medical
records show that he received prompt care consistent with
that of a reasonable medical practitioner, and it maintains
that Gonzalez has not put forth evidence of his own that
supports a contrary conclusion. Id. at 15-19. The
Government also argues that Gonzalez has not made out a case
against the United States because he has not put forth expert
testimony to support his FTCA claim. Id. at 9-14.
has filed a response to the Government's motion, as well
as his own motion for summary judgment. (Docs. # 18, 19).
Those submissions, however, are difficult to follow. As best
as the Court can tell, Gonzalez suggests for the first time
in his response that his colon problems are somehow related
to his foot fungus. (Doc. # 19 at 1-2). He also spends a
significant amount of time arguing about bicameralism and
claiming that he is somehow being incarcerated in violation
of his constitutional rights. (Doc. # 18). Gonzalez, however,
does not dispute in any meaningful way the arguments and
evidence put forth by the Government. Gonzalez also does not
offer his own evidence in response to the Government's
motion; instead, he appears to largely rely on the
allegations set forth in his complaint.
to the Government's dispositive motion (Doc. # 12), the
Court will treat it as a motion for summary judgment because
the United States has attached and relied upon documents and
declarations extrinsic to the pleadings. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 12(d); Wysocki v. Int'l Bus. Mach.
Corp., 607 F.3d 1102, 1104 (6th Cir. 2010). ...