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LaPine v. Corizon Inc.

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

June 17, 2019

CORIZON INC., et al., Defendants.



         On March 6, 2018, Plaintiff Darrin LaPine filed a complaint alleging that the nineteen named Defendants and two Doe Defendants' violated his constitutional and statutory rights by providing inadequate medical treatment. ECF 1.[1] On January 22, 2019, Corizon Defendants[2] filed a motion for summary judgment. ECF 71. On February 20, 2019, Plaintiff filed a response to Corizon Defendants' motion for summary judgment. ECF 77. The Court has reviewed the briefs and finds that a hearing is unnecessary. E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(1). The Court will grant Corizon Defendants' motion.


         On March 2, 2017, [3] Plaintiff arrived at Thumb Correctional Facility ("TCF") and notified staff that he fell down a flight of stairs at Wayne County Jail. A nurse met with Plaintiff, noted that Wayne County placed him on several medications and provided him with a wood cane, and observed a small bruise on his lower back. ECF 73, PgID 674 (under seal).[4] The nurse also documented Plaintiff's request for tennis shoes and pain medication. Id. (under seal).

         The same day, Plaintiff sent a health care request ("kite") to prison medical staff advising that he was scheduled to go to Henry Ford Hospital for an MRI and x-rays and that he was suffering "severe pain and pinched nerves in his neck and back," described his medication needs, and requested tennis shoes. Id. at 675. (under seal). Prison medical staff responded that Plaintiff's chart did not have "a request or an approval for [him] to have an MRI and x-rays;" that Plaintiff was not approved for tennis shoes but would receive special medical shoes; and that MDOC had not approved prescriptions for certain medications. Id. (under seal). Plaintiff sent a similar kite the next day and received a response that he had a nurse appointment scheduled. Id. at 677 (under seal).

         On March 14, a nurse met with Plaintiff and observed that he "walked in using [a] cane but [had] no noted limp and changed [the] cane from on[e] hand to [the] other." Id. at 678 (under seal). The nurse also observed Plaintiff carrying a "stack of papers and binders [without] difficulty and also exchanged [them] from one hand to [the] other." Id. (under seal). She also detailed his comments about previous pain and treatment, and about his recent injuries and pain. Id. (under seal).

         The next day, Plaintiff received an electromyography ("EMG") at McLaren Medical Center, which assesses muscle and nerve health. Id. at 683-84 (under seal) (EMG report). The EMG revealed "[m]ild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome," "[m]ild right ulnar nerve entrapment" in Plaintiff's elbow, mild irritation in his neck, and "[m]ild peripheral sensory polyneuropathy." Id. at 684 (under seal).

         On March 16, Plaintiff was transferred to Cooper Street Correctional Facility ("JCS"). Id. at 685 (under seal) (identifying JCS as the receiving facility for Plaintiff's transfer). The following day, Plaintiff sent a kite complaining of a sore back and neck problems. A nurse scheduled a nursing appointment and commented that a provider would review Plaintiff's chart within a week. Id. at 687 (under seal).

         On March 21, another nurse met with Plaintiff and advised him that he would meet with Nurse Choi, who was reviewing his chart and EMG and would meet with him the next week. Id. at 688 (under seal), 690-91 (under seal) (Nurse Choi's documentation noting that she would review the EMG with Plaintiff the following week).

         The next day, Plaintiff submitted a kite requesting "to be closer to [the] chow hall." Id. at 692 (under seal). The following day, Dr. Alsalman advised that Plaintiff's request would be discussed at his scheduled visit with the provider. Id. at 693 (under seal).

         On March 28, Plaintiff met with Nurse Choi for his provider visit. Nurse Choi conducted a physical exam and observed that Plaintiff had tenderness along his spine but lacked kyphosis and scoliosis. Id. at 696 (under seal). Plaintiff also had a limited range of motion for his right wrist. Id. (under seal). Nurse Choi planned to continue Plaintiff's "naprosyn/tylenol" prescription for pain, to give Plaintiff an ACE wrap for his right wrist, and to request physical therapy and an MRI. Id. (under seal). She also scheduled a follow-up appointment within one month. Id. (under seal). On March 29, Dr. Keith Papendick approved an evaluation for physical therapy, id. at 702 (under seal), and approved the MRI, id. at 706 (under seal) (noting that Plaintiff met the criteria for conducting an MRI of his lumbar spine). On March 30, an ACE wrap was issued to Plaintiff. Id. at 708 (under seal).

         On March 31, Plaintiff sent another kite about his request for a "handicap chow detail." Id. at 709 (under seal). On April 4, Nurse Choi reviewed the request and approved a handicap chow detail for Plaintiff for twelve months. Id. at 710 (under seal).

         On April 17, Plaintiff received an MRI of his lumbar spine. Id. at 713 (under seal). Two days later, Nurse Choi approved a handicap table with a tray assist for Plaintiff for twelve months. Id. at 714, 717 (under seal). The same day, a physical therapist met with Plaintiff and determined that Plaintiff had "progressed beyond the point of [physical therapy] providing any relief." Id. at 719 (under seal).

         On April 26, Dr. Alsalman reviewed Plaintiff's MRI with him. The MRI revealed moderate to severe "central canal stenosis with foraminal encroachment." Id. at 722 (under seal); see also Id. at 727-28 (under seal) (report on Plaintiff's April 17, 2017 MRI). Plaintiff's condition had deteriorated since an MRI eight years prior. Id. (under seal). After physically examining Plaintiff, Dr. Alsalman noted tenderness in Plaintiff's cervical and lumbar spine with severe pain with motion. Id. at 723 (under seal).

         On May 2, Nurse Choi reiterated to Plaintiff that he was not eligible for special medical shoes. Id. at 729 (under seal). The same day, Plaintiff submitted a kite requesting a visit with a neurosurgeon. Id. at 731 (under seal). On May 3, Plaintiff sent another kite requesting a renewal of his detail for his ACE wrap and of his detail for housing. Id. at 732 (under seal). On May 5, Nurse Choi recommended that Plaintiff's housing detail be extended but denied his request for the ACE bandage because he was not eligible for continued use of the wrap. Id. at 734-35 (under seal). The same day, another nurse confirmed with the state's Assistant Chief Medical Officer that Plaintiff did not qualify for a wrist brace. Id. at 737 (under seal).

         On May 8, Plaintiff saw Dr. Harrish Rawal for a neurosurgery consultation. Id. at 738 (under seal). Dr. Rawal recommended that Plaintiff receive surgery "when there is a chance of paralysis" or if he could "not stand the pain anymore." Id. at 743 (under seal). Dr. Rawal advised that "L2-L5 laminectomy, and fusion with instrumentation" was the recommended surgical course. Id. (under seal). The next day, Nurse Choi submitted a consultation request "for neurosurgery for laminectomy at ¶ 2-5 with fusion." Id. at 746 (under seal). The following day, Dr. Papendick approved the surgery. Id. at 750 (under seal). Plaintiff expressed a desire for a second opinion about surgical methods from his own doctor. Id. at 745, 752-53 (under seal). On May 31, Dr. Alsalman met with Plaintiff and noted that his surgery with Dr. Rawal would occur "in the near future." Id. at 757 (under seal).

         On June 6, Plaintiff sent another kite and advised he did not want an offsite visit unless it was through his own doctors and that he had filed a lawsuit. Id. at 762 (under seal).

         Two days later, Nurse Choi met with Plaintiff and discussed his no-show for scheduled blood work, reminded him of his upcoming neurosurgery appointment, and explained that MDOC declined his request for a second opinion for his surgical options. Id. at 763 (under seal).

         On June 9, Plaintiff wrote a letter to Dr. Rawal describing the alternative surgery he had discussed with his own doctors. Plaintiff wrote: "What I think I will do is have you do the surgery and sue you for malepractice [sic] and gross negligence. I have learned that it would be worth millions. I won't sign off on anything. I will see if you will perform this barbaric Neanderthal outdated type of surgery?" ECF 71-2, PgID 325.[5]

         On June 14, Nurse Choi again saw Plaintiff and he agreed to a June 22 surgery with Dr. Rawal. ECF 73, PgID 770 (under seal). Nurse Choi referred Plaintiff to the Pain Management Committee ("PMC") and renewed a request for tennis shoes. Id. at 776, 781 (under seal).

         On June 15, Nurse Choi received approval for Plaintiff to get tennis shoes, decided to decrease his Naprosyn dose and frequency "due to slightly elevated creatinine in [Plaintiff's] blood," and noted that she was waiting for the PMC response. Id. at 782 (under seal). Dr. Borgerding recommended stopping Plaintiff's Naprosyn intake "due to renal function tests." Id. at 784 (under seal). On June 16, Nurse Choi gave Plaintiff a bottom bunk with "no more than 10 steps." Id. at 785-87 (under seal).

         On June 21, Dr. Alsalman provided Plaintiff with a vitamin B-12 shot. Id. at 788 (under seal). After discussing Plaintiff's neurosurgery scheduled for the next day, Dr. Alsalman noted that he believed Plaintiff was objecting to the surgery and that Plaintiff threatened to sue if the surgery occurred because it was a "more intrusive surgery than he need[ed]." Id. (under seal). Dr. Alsalman discussed his concerns with prison staff and Dr. Bergman. Id. at 789-90 (under seal). Dr. Bergman spoke with Dr. Borgerding and Dr. Bomber, and they decided to cancel Plaintiff's surgery "and put it on hold until further discussions with Dr. Rawal" could occur. Id. at 791 (under seal). Dr. Bergman expressed that the medical staff understood that Plaintiff had "legitimate medical concerns" but that they wanted "to further evaluate if the proposed surgery is still the best course of action." Id. (under seal).

         On June 27, Dr. Alsalman met with Plaintiff to discuss his spinal condition and noted that he felt Plaintiff's signs and symptoms were "highly questionable based on a number of surveillance video footages . . . showing [Plaintiff] freely walking without [a] cane or any sort of aid while carrying various heavy objects with no apparent distress or difficulty." Id. at 792 (under seal).[6] Plaintiff interrupted the appointment, handed Dr. Alsalman his attorney's business card, and left the meeting. Id. (under seal). Dr. Alsalman cancelled Plaintiff's details for a cell unit near the chow hall, a wooden cane, and for a handicapped tray assist. Id. at 793 (under seal).

         The next day, Plaintiff fell in the prison yard "twist[ed] his entire body" and experienced "10/10 pain." Id. at 798 (under seal). Medical staff intended to send Plaintiff to an out-of-prison emergency room, but Plaintiff remained at the prison. Id. at 801 (under seal). A nurse provided Plaintiff with ice, Motrin, and Tylenol. Id. (under seal). Medical staff noted that Plaintiff refused treatment and "got up swiftly out of [the wheelchair] and walked towards [the] door" and that he was later seen "walking back to his unit independently without issue, [with] gait steady and brisk." Id. at 798 (under seal). The same day, Plaintiff sent a kite to medical staff about the reduction of his Naproxen dosage and noted that his cane detail had been cancelled. Id. at 803 (under seal).

         On June 29, Dr. Alsalman met with Plaintiff to assess his condition after his fall. Id. at 804 (under seal). Dr. Alsalman requested a reevaluation of the medical necessity of Plaintiff's proposed surgery. Id. at 807 (under seal). On July 3, Dr. Papendick approved the request. Id. at 810 (under seal). But Dr. Alsalman advised that Plaintiff's reevaluation was cancelled "per Dr. Borgerding's" recommendation because the hospital withdrew from the physician-patient relationship "due to [a] lack of confidence." Id. at 812 (under seal).

         On July 1, a nurse met with Plaintiff after he fell in the shower. Id. at 814 (under seal). Plaintiff requested a cane or wheelchair, asked for his Naprosyn dosage to be increased, and reported numbness and tingling in his legs. Id. at 814, 817 (under seal); see also Id. at 819 (kite message requesting Naproxen dosage increase) (under seal). Plaintiff also received a vitamin B-12 injection. Id. at 816 (under seal). The nurse spoke with Dr. Alsalman about Plaintiff's symptoms and Dr. Alsalman suggested that Plaintiff go to an outside emergency room. Id. at 817 (under seal). Plaintiff did not go to the emergency room. Id. (under seal). The same day, Plaintiff sent a kite asking for an update on his tennis shoes. He was told that the shoes would arrive in another 4 to 6 weeks. Id. at 818 (under seal).

         On July 3, Plaintiff sent two kites to prison healthcare asking for the results of his EMG and MRI and for Dr. Alsalman's notes from their June 27 and 29 appointments. Id. at 820-21 (under seal). In a third kite, Plaintiff requested renewal of his cane detail. Id. at 822 (under seal).

         On July 12, Dr. Rawal responded to Plaintiff's June 9 letter. Dr. Rawal noted the lack of confidence and trust that existed and advised that he and Henry Ford Allegiance were "withdrawing from [their] physician-patient relationship" with Plaintiff. ECF 71-2, PgID 323. Dr. Rawal encouraged Plaintiff to "seek out and find another ...

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