United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
R. WLLHOLT. JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Poe is a prisoner who was recently confined at the Federal
Correctional Institution (FCI) in Ashland, Kentucky, and is
now incarcerated at FCI - Petersburg in Hopewell, Virginia.
Proceeding without a lawyer, Poe filed a complaint with this
Court asserting claims against the United States pursuant to
the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). [D. E. No. 1]. The United
States has now filed a motion to dismiss Poe's complaint
or, in the alternative, a motion for summary judgment. [D. E.
No. 14]. However, for the reasons set forth below, the Court
will deny the United States' dispositive motion and,
instead, it will refer this case to a Magistrate Judge for
further proceedings, including the initiation of discovery.
arrived at FCI - Ashland in November of 2015. [D. E. No. 14-2
at ¶ 4]. Poe alleges that, on the evening of May 10,
2016, he reported to the housing unit officer that he was
having difficulty urinating and, in fact, had not urinated in
over 24 hours. [D. E. No. 1 at ¶ 1]. Poe alleges that,
although he was experiencing extreme pain and discomfort, the
unit officer told him to "go to bed" and "suck
it up" and added that there was "no medical staff
on hand." [Id. at ¶ 3]. Poe alleges that
he followed the officer's instructions and returned to
his bunk. [Id. at ¶ 4].
to Poe, at some point after returning to his bunk, he lost
consciousness due to an infection and the pain in his
bladder. [Id. at ¶ 6]. Poe claims that the next
thing he remembers is a case manager and another inmate
waking him up, and he "vaguely recalls being asked by
these two individuals if he was okay but does not remember
being able to formulate a coherent response due to his
delirium." [Id. at ¶ 7]. Poe next recalls
regaining consciousness in a local hospital on May 11, 2016
at approximately 8:30 p.m. [Id. at ¶ 8].
to Poe's medical records, on May 11, 2016, at
approximately 4:05 p.m., he was found alert and oriented but
was unresponsive to questions about his condition. [D. E. No.
14-3 at 1-2 at ¶ 3]. Upon arriving at the Health
Services Unit, Poe's temperature was 103.1, and his urine
screen was positive for blood, leukocytes, and nitrites.
[Id. at 2 at ¶ 3]. The medical staff
provisionally diagnosed Poe with urosepsis and transported
him to the emergency room at a local hospital.
hospital, Poe complained of a fever and confusion, and he
said that his symptoms began the day before. [Id. at
2 at ¶ 4]. Poe also indicated that he "felt hot
with chills and sweats" and reported painful urination
and an urge but inability to void. [Id.]. Poe was
ultimately diagnosed with sepsis secondary to a urinary tract
infection. [Id. at 2 at ¶ 5]. Poe was provided
prescriptions intravenously, including Levophed and Levaquin.
[Id.]. Poe's blood pressure and mental activity
improved, and he was started on Flomax. [Id.]. Poe
remained in the hospital for five days, returning to FCI -
Ashland on May 16, 2016. [Id.]. Over the next
several months, Poe was repeatedly evaluated and treated for
issues related to his medical condition, and he remained on
Flomax until well in to 2018. [Id. at ¶¶
eventually filed an administrative tort claim with the Bureau
of Prisons. [D. E. Nos. 1-8 and 1-9]. Poe claimed, among
other things, that when he first reported his trouble
urinating to the housing unit officer, he was denied adequate
medical care and thus was "placed in a life-threatening
situation." [D. E. No. 1-9]. The Bureau of Prisons,
however, denied Poe relief. [D. E. No. 1-10].
then filed this lawsuit against the United States because of
the allegedly negligent or wrongful acts of Government
employees. [D. E.No. 1 atl]. The United States has now filed
a motion to dismiss Poe's complaint or, in the
alternative, a motion for summary judgment. [D. E. No. 14].
That dispositive motion is now pending before this Court.
initial matter, the Court will treat the United States'
motion as one for summary judgment because it has attached
and relied upon documents and declarations extrinsic to the
pleadings. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d); Wysocki v.
Int'l Bus. Mack Corp., 607 F.3d 1102, 1104 (6th Cir.
2010). That said, the Court will deny the United States'
motion and, instead, it will refer this case to a Magistrate
Judge for further proceedings, including the initiation of
United States argues that Poe's complaint should be
dismissed because he is asserting a medical malpractice
claim, he is required to put forth expert testimony to prove
up that claim, and he has failed to do so. [D. E. No. 14-1 at
8-9]. However, construing Poe's pro se submission
liberally, he appears to be claiming that the United States
is liable under the FTC A because at least one member of the
prison's non-medical staff allegedly refused to provide
him with access to care when he first sought treatment on May
10, 2016, and, in any event, the prison had "no medical
staff on hand" on that date. [Id. at 2]. Thus,
it appears that Poe's negligence claims are actually
based on alleged facts that predate and exist independent of
his receipt of medical care-i.e., the actions of a housing
unit officer and the way the prison staffs its medical
department. In short, based on the record currently before
the Court, Poe's claims are not accurately characterized
as pure medical malpractice claims.
even if the Court assumes that Poe will eventually need
expert testimony to prove up his negligence claims, which the
Court does not decide at this point, it would be premature to
grant summary judgment at this stage in the litigation. After
all, "[t]he general rule is that summary judgment is
improper if the non-movant is not afforded a sufficient
opportunity for discovery." Vance v. United
States,90 F.3d 1145, 1148 (6th Cir. 1996) (citations
omitted); see also Lytle v. United States, No.
5:18-cv-059-KKC, 2018 WL 5268613, at *4 (E.D. Ky. Oct. 23,
2018) (denying the United States' motion for summary
judgment and noting that the pro se plaintiff had not yet had
a sufficient opportunity for discovery). ...