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Weatherspoon v. LNU

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

March 9, 2017

MORRIS WEATHERSPOON, Plaintiff,
v.
GEORGE LNU, et al. Defendants.

         OPINION AND ORDER (1) OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS (ECF #137) TO THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (ECF #127), (2) ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION, (3) GRANTING DEFENDANTS SCHEPPELMAN AND GEORGE'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF #116), AND (4) CERTIFYING THAT AN APPEAL CANNOT BE TAKEN IN GOOD FAITH FROM THIS ORDER OR FROM ANY OF THE COURT'S PRIOR ORDERS GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF ## 67, 119, 120)

          MATTHEW F. LEITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Morris Weatherspoon (“Weatherspoon”) is an inmate in the custody of the Michigan Department of Corrections (the “MDOC”). In this action, Weatherspoon brings constitutional claims against nine MDOC employees. The Court has already dismissed all of Weatherspoon's claims against seven of those employees. (See ECF ## 67, 119, 120.) The only claims that remain are against Defendants Tamara Scheppelman (“Scheppelman”) and Susan George (“George”).

         Scheppelman is a nurse at the Macomb Correctional Facility (“MRF”). Weatherspoon alleges that Scheppelman violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by acting with deliberate indifference to his medical needs during his visit to the MRF infirmary on March 10, 2013.

         George is a psychiatrist at MRF. Weatherspoon, who has been diagnosed with nonorganic psychosis, alleges that George violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by keeping him in a mental health program and forcibly medicating him. Weatherspoon also alleges that George retaliated against him in violation of the First Amendment.

         Scheppelman and George have moved for summary judgment. (See ECF #116.) The assigned Magistrate Judge has now issued a Report and Recommendation (the “R&R”) in which he recommends that the Court grant summary judgment in favor of both Scheppelman and George. (See ECF #127.) Weatherspoon has filed timely objections to the R&R (collectively, the “Objections”). (See ECF #137.) For the reasons explained below, the Court OVERRULES Weatherspoon's Objections in their entirety, ADOPTS the Magistrate Judge's recommended disposition, and GRANTS summary judgment in favor Defendants Scheppelman and George.

         I

         A

         Weatherspoon's claims against Scheppelman and George involve separate and discrete sets of facts. The Court describes the factual background for each defendant separately below.

         1

         Weatherspoon's claims against Scheppelman arise out of her treatment of him on March 10, 2013. However, to understand the nature of these claims, it is necessary to provide a more detailed background of Weatherspoon's medical history.

         In January 2013, the MDOC housed Weatherspoon at the Kinross Correctional Facility (“KCF”). On January 18, 2013, Weatherspoon was treated for leg pain by KCF physician Dr. Ramesh Kilaru (“Dr. Kilaru”). Dr. Kilaru observed that Weatherspoon had a lump on his left leg, and he advised Weatherspoon of the “benign nature of the lesion.” (Weatherspoon Medical Records, ECF #85-1 at 17, Pg. ID 613.)[1] Dr. Kilaru prescribed Weatherspoon over-the-counter pain medication (such as Motrin), and he listed February 2, 2013, as the date on which Weatherspoon should stop taking that medication. (See Id. at 17-18, Pg. ID 613-14.)

         On or around January 28, 2013, the MDOC transferred Weatherspoon to MRF. (See Dr. Badawi Abdellatif Decl., ECF #83-2 at ¶ 5, Pg. ID 578; ECF #85-1 at 18, Pg. ID 614.) When Weatherspoon arrived at MRF, he received a medical examination from a physician's assistant. (See ECF #85-1 at 19, Pg. ID 615.) The physician's assistant noted that Weatherspoon had a “history of thigh pain and [a] ‘lump, '” and the physician's assistant advised Weatherspoon to purchase over-the-counter pain medication from the prison store. (Id.)

         Three days later, on January 31, 2013, Dr. Badawi Abdellatif (“Dr. Abdellatif”), a physician at MRF, examined Weatherspoon. (See Dr. Abdellatif Decl., ECF #83-2 at ¶ 6, Pg. ID 578.) Dr. Abdellatif reviewed the notation in Weatherspoon's medical records that the lump on Weatherspoon's thigh was benign, and he did not see any indications that the lump had worsened since Weatherspoon's prior evaluations. (See id.) At the conclusion of the examination, Dr. Abdellatif “suggested that Weatherspoon attempt to control his pain with the [400 milligrams of Motrin] he had been prescribed.” (Id.) Weatherspoon “verbalized [his] understanding” of Dr. Abdellatif's recommendation. (ECF #85-1 at 20, Pg. ID 616.)

         At approximately 12:30 a.m. on March 10, 2013, Weatherspoon sought medical attention for chest pain. (See Id. at 25, Pg. ID 621.) Scheppelman responded, but when she arrived Weatherspoon did not complain of chest pain. Instead, he requested a bottom bunk accommodation for his leg pain (which the MDOC had previously denied). (See Id. at 26, 32, Pg. ID 622, 628.) Scheppelman wrote the following in Weatherspoon's medical records:

Inmate is currently taking motrin 400 mg, he was instructed to take the motrin with food. Inmate verbalized understanding. Inmate left here via ambulatory without complaints of chest pain. Inmate given saltine crackers and milk to coat the stomach, he only had a few sips of milk then said it was all he drink [sic].

(ECF #85-1 at 25-26, Pg. ID 621-622.) Scheppelman also placed a call to Dr. Abdellatif to secure follow-up care for Weatherspoon's pain. (Id.) Dr. Abdellatif returned the call at 12:50 a.m., and he saw Weatherspoon at approximately 8:30 a.m. that same day. (Id. at 26-30, Pg. ID 622-26.) He determined that Weatherspoon did not require an outside evaluation and prescribed Weatherspoon 325 milligrams of acetaminophen for his leg pain. (See Dr. Abdellatif Decl., ECF #83-2 at ¶ 8, Pg. ID 580; ECF #85-1 at 27-30, Pg. ID 623-26.)

         In his Complaint, Weatherspoon alleges that Scheppelman violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and acted with deliberate indifference to his medical needs, by failing to adequately respond to his leg pain. (See Compl. at ¶13, ECF #1 at 4, Pg. ID 4.) Specifically, Weatherspoon alleges that Scheppelman “withheld [his] prescribed pain relief medication and prevented [him] access to a physician capable of evaluating [his] need for adequate treatment.” (Id.)

         2

         George provided Weatherspoon with mental health treatment while he was housed at MRF. The MDOC determined that Weatherspoon needed such treatment because he had been diagnosed with nonorganic psychosis. (See ECF #85-1 at 40, Pg. ID 636.)

         Weatherspoon claims that, on March 21, 2013, George improperly denied his request to be “discharge[ed] and/or terminat[ed] from anti-psychotic medications and [the] mental health program.” (Compl. at ¶15, ECF #1 at 5, Pg. ID 5.) Weatherspoon further says that George “wrongfully prescribe[ed] powerful antipsychotic medication and “forcibly injected [him] with antipsychotic medication against [his] will.” (Id. at ¶22, ECF #1 at 8, Pg. ID 8.) Weatherspoon insists these actions violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (See id. at ¶¶ 22-23.) Weatherspoon has also brings a retaliation claim against George under the First Amendment. (See id. at ¶24.).

         3

          On April 30, 2013, the MDOC transferred Weatherspoon from MRF to Handlon Correctional Facility (“Handlon”). After that time, he was no longer under the care of Scheppelman or George. (See ECF #85-1 at 40-41, Pg. ID 640-41.)

         On May 7, 2013, a full week after Weatherspoon had transferred out of MRF and left the care of Scheppelman and George, a mental health hearing committee at Handlon (the “Handlon Committee”) issued a unanimous decision finding Weatherspoon “mentally ill” and authorizing his treating psychiatrist - who was not George - to forcibly medicate him. (See ECF #1-1 at 58, Pg. ID 58.) ...


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