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Young v. Kentucky State Reformatory

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

May 22, 2019

ANDREW YOUNG, Plaintiff,
v.
KENTUCKY STATE REFORMATORY et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          David J. Hale, Judge.

         Plaintiff Andrew Young filed this pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action. Because Plaintiff is a prisoner suing government officials, the amended complaint (Docket No. 5)[1] 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 following reasons, this case will be dismissed.

         I. STATEMENT OF FACTS

         Plaintiff's amended complaint is nearly 50 pages long, most of it single-spaced. Plaintiff is a convicted prisoner housed at the Kentucky State Reformatory (KSR). He names 22 KSR employees in their individual capacities as Defendants as follows: Dr. Kristen Schramm, Sonja Tapia, Lee Ann Keller, Anna Valentine, John Grievous, Sgt. Jeremy Ball, Capt. Michael Williams, Kimberly Thompson, Lt. Jay Hawkins, Capt. David Rohmann, Everett Thomas, Phillip Campbell, Lt. Jayne Hogan, Aaron Smith, Betsy Ramey, Aimee Mihalyon, Brittany Craig-Kramer, Dr. Laura Moore, Dr. Stephanie Roby, Dr. Maureen Khalil, Dr. Donna Smith, and Dr. Tom Morton. He also names as Defendants Correct Care Solutions (CCS) and the Kentucky Department of Corrections (KDOC).

         Plaintiff states that he is a “documented mentally ill inmate.” He alleges that in July 2017, Defendant Schramm, KSR psychologist, agreed to let a friend of Plaintiff's into Defendant Schramm's “Phoenix” program so his friend could “‘get some help for himself too'” in exchange for information from Plaintiff regarding illegal activity in KSR's “yard.” He alleges that in doing so Defendant Schramm showed deliberate indifference to his mental illness in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

         Plaintiff next alleges that when he met with Defendant Schramm “multiple times for psychological services, ” she only “sat in silence” while Plaintiff expressed “many complaints . . . regarding threats from staff members, health problems, illegitimately prescribed medications, medical's refusal to do laboratory tests, and general apathy from both mental health and medical services at KSR[.]” He also alleges that Defendant Schramm showed deliberate indifference to his mental health and medical needs “by refusing [Defendant] Keller's recommendation [for] Dr. Schramm [to] reevaluate [Plaintiff].” He explains that Defendant Keller is a psychiatric nurse.

         Plaintiff's next allegations arise out of a September 2017 psychiatrist appointment. He states that on September 22 he arrived at the out-patient services office for his scheduled appointment and registered with Defendant Tapia, the secretary, who directed Plaintiff to an office where he has met “many psychiatric advisers many times.” He states that “[w]ell into what is believed to be a private psychiatric session” via teleconference on a laptop computer with Defendant Keller he noticed that Defendants Keller and Tapia were having a “chat room” conversation which was derogatory in nature about his “private psychiatric conversation.” According to Plaintiff, Defendants were posting their conversation on the laptop monitor unaware that he could see them.

         Plaintiff states that he left out-patient services and was en route to his dormitory when his name was called out on the PA system with instructions to return to out-patient services. However, he states, that instead of returning to out-patient services as directed, he proceeded to go to his dormitory where Defendant Schramm's office is located. He states that he then told Defendant Schramm that his Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rights had been violated and that Defendant Keller had not prescribed any medicine or other care during his psychiatric session. He states that Defendant Schramm told him to leave her office “without any assistance” because “she did not want to ‘interstep.'” He states that Defendant Schramm refused to report his HIPAA violation and instead turned him over to security.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Grievous, who was working security, escorted Plaintiff back to out-patient services where, according to Plaintiff, Defendant Tapia proceeded to “threaten, cuss, and scream derogatory remarks . . . and promised a ‘world of hurt for reporting'” that his HIPAA rights were violated.

         The events of September 22, 2017, resulted in Plaintiff being taken to segregation. Along the way, he encountered Defendant Rohman, who Plaintiff informed that he was wrongfully being taken to segregation and that his HIPAA rights were being violated but received no help. Once there, he requested and was granted an “‘admit'” phone call to his mother. He states that he asked his mother to contact the warden. Plaintiff also states that he was taken to the segregation nurse's station where a nurse took his vital signs and helped him fill out a sick-call slip stating that he wanted to see Dr. Tanya Young immediately to report ethics violations by Defendants Tapia and Keller. He states that Defendants Williams and Ball took his statement at that time. He alleges that both of these Defendants failed to seize and investigate evidence related to the incident.

         Plaintiff states that he was in segregation from September 23 to 27, during which time Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Tapia “made good on her 9-22-17 ‘world of hurt' promise.” He states that during this time he suffered from hopelessness and despair and tried every method he could imagine to commit suicide. He also alleges that during this time he was not provided a grievance form, despite his requests.

         Plaintiff alleges that when he was released on September 27, he was read a disciplinary report charging him with destroying property. He states that he was referred to an adjustment committee for prosecution of tampering with safety/security/locking devices based on Defendant Hawkins' review of the write-up against him.

         Plaintiff next alleges that on October 19, 2017, he filed a confidential health care grievance requesting his HIPAA rights “to be inforced and protected” and to have Defendant Tapia's statement and the video of the September 22 incident investigated. He states that Defendant Thomas, the grievance coordinator, forwarded his grievance to Defendant Campbell, who deemed it not grievable because it was related to a disciplinary action. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Thomas violated HIPAA by giving his health care grievance to a non-health care employee and violated his Fourteenth Amendment due-process rights because, at the time the disciplinary report was made, Defendant Thomas was actually the “reporting employee” but had since become the grievance coordinator who “purposely [did not give the] healthcare grievance to proper healthcare personnel.” Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Campbell violated his HIPAA rights and his Fourteenth Amendment due-process rights because the grievance he filed did not mention a disciplinary report or an adjustment committee hearing and because Defendant Campbell failed to forward the grievance to appropriate health care personnel for review.

         Plaintiff's adjustment committee hearing was held on October 27, 2017. Plaintiff alleges that he was not allowed to call any witnesses or present any documents as evidence. Plaintiff states that Defendant Hogan did not allow Plaintiff to give his personal account of the events and violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights by convicting Plaintiff based solely on the word of Defendants Tapia and Young. He also alleges that Defendant Schramm violated his Fourteenth Amendment due-process rights by refusing to testify at the hearing.

         Plaintiff states that he appealed but that Defendant Aaron Smith concurred with the adjustment committee. Plaintiff alleges that, in concurring despite flagrant violations, Defendant Aaron Smith violated his due-process rights.

         Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Keller violated his constitutional rights by placing a fraudulent accusation in his mental health file regarding the September 22 incident.

         Plaintiff alleges that in his last meeting with Defendant Schramm on February 16, 2018, he requested her to report the HIPAA violations to an outside agency, but she declined. He also makes allegations involving not being able to get certain records through an open-records request, but those allegations do not involve any of the named Defendants.

         Plaintiff next alleges that on March 2, 2018, he filled out a health care request form complaining of “constant fatigue, headache, body aches, swollen area under left jawbone, and also requests for bloodwork for Hep C, HIV, diabetes, vitamin levels, and HPV, ” but on March 8, 2018, when he saw Defendant Ramsey, she falsified a report of his symptoms and falsely “labeled Plaintiff . . . as a high risk homosexual.” According to the complaint, she did schedule him for a thyroid ultrasound and blood work. He alleges that the ultrasound confirmed a thyroid nodule but that Defendant Ramsey refused to investigate it further. However, he also states that on March 22, 2018, Defendant Ramsey did reorder “hepatic function test for hepatitis test, ” although she again did not schedule a test for HPV.

         Plaintiff further alleges that although two tubes of blood were taken, only one was tested and “only partial blood test exam was performed, only HIV test conducted, and partial complete blood count performed.” Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Ramsey was deliberately indifferent in that he told her of his exposure to HPV prior to his incarceration and that the virus is known to cause head and neck cancer in men which “often begins with a lump in the neck region.” He also alleges that he reported sore throat and cough, which, according to him, are “consistent with HPV infection in its advanced stage.” Plaintiff next alleges that on March 29, 2018, in response to an open-records act request, he received his medical records during his incarceration. He alleges that at that time he learned that “potentially ten years of bloodwork results [were] missing from his medical records.” He alleges that he has always been assured by “all psychiatrist responsible for his care” that his blood lab results were normal. Plaintiff alleges that psychiatric medication he was often prescribed required frequent blood work. He states, “Even with all these risks [Plaintiff's] blood was drawn but not actually processed and Plaintiff . . . was assured by physicians, health care providers, and psychiatrists and psychologists [that his] blood work results were normal and that he should . . . continue to take prescribed medications.” He also makes more specific allegations as to perceived deficiencies in his treatment back to 2009.

         As relief, Plaintiff requests monetary and punitive damages and injunctive relief.

         II. ANALYSIS

         When a prisoner initiates a civil action seeking redress from a governmental entity, officer, or employee, the trial court must review the complaint and dismiss the action, if the Court determines that it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) and (2). A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). The Court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Id. at 327. When determining whether a plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court must construe the complaint in a light most favorable to Plaintiff and accept all of the factual allegations as true. Prater v. City of Burnside, Ky., 289 F.3d 417, 424 (6th Cir. 2002). While a reviewing court must liberally construe pro se pleadings, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam), to avoid dismissal, a complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

         A. Deliberate-indifference claim against ...


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