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Harris v. Clifford

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

September 25, 2019

SAMUEL D. HARRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
ANGELA CLIFFORD, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DANNY C. REEVES. CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Defendants Angela Clifford and Shelli Conyers-Votaw have moved for summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. [Record No. 32');">32] They contend that Plaintiff Samuel Harris has failed to support his claim for deliberate indifference with sufficient evidence to proceed to trial, and that the evidence of record demonstrates that they are entitled to summary judgment. Id. The matter was referred to Magistrate Judge Candace J. Smith for preparation of a report and recommendation (“R&R”) under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). Magistrate Judge Smith issued an R&R on August 23, 2019, recommending that the Court grant the defendants’ motion and dismiss the plaintiff’s claim. [Record No. 42]

         Magistrate Judge Smith’s R&R clearly articulated the time parameters for objections to the R&R. Id. at p. 15. Harris’ deadline for filing objections expired on September 9, 2019. See id.; F.R.C.P. 6(d). However, the plaintiff has only filed a motion requesting medical records in paper form [Record No. 43] since Magistrate Judge Smith issued the R&R.

         The Court notes that a party who fails to raise timely objections generally forfeits the right to appeal the district court’s subsequent ruling on the issues analyzed in a magistrate judge’s report. See Berkshire v. Beauvais, 928 F.3d 520, 530-31 (6th Cir. 2019). Additionally, “[i]t does not appear that Congress intended to require district court review of a magistrate’s factual or legal conclusions, under a de novo or any other standard, when neither party objects to those findings.” Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985). Nevertheless, the Court has carefully examined the record and conducted a de novo review. The Court will adopt Magistrate Judge Smith’s R&R in full, and deny the pending Motion for medical records in paper form. Finally, the plaintiff’s claim will be dismissed with prejudice.

         II.

         Harris was confined at Northpoint Training Center in Burgin, Kentucky during the time relevant to this action. [Record No. 1] He asserts a § 1983 deliberate indifference claim relating to treatment by Advance Practice Registered Nurse (“APRN”) Conyers-Votaw and Dr. Clifford, both of whom were employed at Northpoint. See id.; Record No. 34');">34');">34');">34, pp. 2');">p. 2-9.

         Harris visited APRN Conyers-Votaw at Northpoint’s sick call on September 9, 2017, telling the nurse that he had trouble talking. [Record No. 34');">34');">34');">34, p. 9] Conyers-Votaw observed that his voice was raspy and that his throat was slightly red but noted that his face was not droopy. Id. The nurse advised Harris to rest and return for a reassessment in a “couple hours.” Id.

         Inmate Harris returned the next day (September 10), reporting a sore throat, hand numbness, and occasionally blurry vision. Id. at p. 8. APRN Conyers-Votaw ordered a throat swab culture, diagnosed him with strep throat, and prescribed antibiotics. Id. However, she also referred Harris to Dr. Clifford for further analysis of his numbness and blurred vision. Id.

         Harris saw Dr. Clifford for an initial appointment on September 11, 2017. Id. at pp. 5-6. The doctor observed partial facial paralysis and voice hoarseness. Id. She determined that these symptoms could possibly be the results of previous head and neck trauma. Id. Dr. Clifford prescribed prednisone to treat the symptoms and ordered an expedited MRI at the University of Kentucky Hospital. Id.

         The plaintiff returned to Dr. Clifford on September 13, 2017. Id. at p. 4. The doctor again documented that Harris’s symptoms could be the result of head and neck trauma but noted that she suspected Bell’s palsy. Id. The September 13 appointment report also stated that the doctor learned that U.K. hospital could not perform an MRI until November. Id. As a result, she scheduled an earlier MRI at Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center in Danville, Kentucky. Id.

         Harris attended a follow-up appointment with Dr. Clifford on September 27, 2017. Id. at p. 3. She wrote that Harris’s conditions appeared to be improving and that she continued to suspect that Bell’s palsy had caused his symptoms. Id.

         Personnel at Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center performed an MRI on the same day (September 27, 2017). Id at p. 10. The MRI revealed that Harris had suffered a “subacute right frontal lobe infarction.” Id. The defendants concede that this diagnosis constitutes a “mild stroke.” [Record No. 32');">32, p. 4] Dr. Clifford reviewed the results with Harris on October 10, 2017, and immediately referred him to neurology.[1] [Record No. 34');">34');">34');">34, p. 2');">p. 2]

         Harris subsequently filed suit on August 13, 2018. [Record No. 1] The October 16, 2018, Scheduling Order instructed the parties to complete discovery by April 16, 2019, and to file evidence as attachments supporting motions. [Record No. 21] The defendants have attached copies of Harris’ relevant medical records [Record No. 34');">34');">34');">34] to their motion for summary judgment [Record No. 32');">32], but Harris has not filed any evidentiary attachments.

         However, Harris’ response to the defendants’ motion contends that the medical practitioners lied when they stated in his “black and white medical papers” that he sought treatment for a sore throat. [Record No. 38, pp. 1-3] He further argues that they failed to document that he initially told them that he believed he was suffering from a stroke. Id. Although Harris has ...


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