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Hardy v. Gauderer

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

March 5, 2018


          Hon. Gordon J. Quist Judge.


          Ray Kent United States Magistrate Judge.

         This is a pro se civil rights action brought by a state prisoner at a Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) facility pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter is now before the Court on defendant Ernst Gauderer, M.D.'s motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 66).

         I. Background

         Plaintiff's complaint set forth the following allegations against Dr. Gauderer. Plaintiff was transferred to the Carson City Correctional Facility (DRF). According to his “Med Management - Complex”, Dr. Gauderer stopped plaintiff's Wellbutrin prescription “without reason” at 9:50 a.m. on March 1, 2016 following plaintiff's in-take visit. Id. at PageID.9. On March 9, 2016, plaintiff sent a kite to Dr. Gauderer and others of feeling hopeless and suffering from Wellbutrin withdrawal. Id. Plaintiff met with the doctor via tele-conference on March 11, 2016, complaining about Wellbutrin withdrawals. Id. The doctor's “demeanor was hostile, ” he told plaintiff that “[w]e don't have Wellbutrin because it's non-formulary, ” and told him to “[t]alk to the Warden.” Id. at PageID.10. The doctor told plaintiff he could have Effexor, Zoloft, Celexa, or Paxil, but not Wellbutrin. Id. Plaintiff told the Dr. Gauderer that “past doctors” took him off of the alternative drugs due to side effects. Id. When plaintiff asked the doctor to prescribe something for Wellbutrin withdrawals, the doctor said “it's too late”. Id. Plaintiff was upset, told the doctor he would pursue his grievance until he got the Wellbutrin back, an argument ensued, and plaintiff was ordered to leave. Id. On March 15, 2016, plaintiff spoke to the Warden about the discontinuation of the medication, saying the Gauderer “suggested he speak to the Warden.” Id. The Warden said he had nothing to do with medication but would look into the issue with Psych Service. Id. On March 24, 2016, plaintiff found out that his prescription for Wellbutrin had been reinstated after 23 days. Id. at PageID.11.

         In his first cause of action, plaintiff alleged that Dr. Gauderer was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment when the doctor abruptly discontinued his prescription for Wellbutrin, did not wean him off of the drug, and did not adequately respond to plaintiff's complaints. Id. at PageID.13. Plaintiff repeats this claim in his second cause of action, with the added allegation that the doctor “fabricated his med records because he needed a valid reason why he stopped Plaintiff's 6-month Trial for Wellbutrin ‘cold turkey'.” Id. In his third cause of action, plaintiff alleged that “when he filed a grievance against Gauderer for discontinuing his Wellbutrin, Gauderer retaliated and fabricated his med report ten days after he stopped Plaintiff's Wellbutrin which was relied on and used by [co-defendant] Woodin to deny Plaintiff's treatment complaints, in violation of his First Amendment rights.” Id. In his sixth cause of action, plaintiff alleged that Dr. Gauderer and co-defendants Bratel and Woodin inflicted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment by being deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's Wellbutrin withdrawal. Id. at PageID.14. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Id.

         II. Dr. Gauderer's motion for summary judgment

         A. Legal standard for summary judgment

         ''The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'' Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Rule 56 further provides that a party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by:

(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or
(B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1).

         In Copeland v. Machulis, 57 F.3d 476 (6th Cir. 1995), the court set forth the parties= burden of proof in a motion for summary judgment:

The moving party bears the initial burden of establishing an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Once the moving party has met its burden of production, the nonmoving party cannot rest on its pleadings, but must present significant probative evidence in support of the complaint to defeat the motion for summary judgment. The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence to support plaintiff's position ...

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