United States District Court, D. Oregon
Robert Monterrosa Salem, OR, Pro se Plaintiff.
Ellen F. Rosenblum Attorney General, Michael R. Washington, Senior Assistant Attorney General Department of Justice, Salem, OR, Attorneys for Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
GARR M. KING, District Judge.
Plaintiff Robert Monterrosa, a prisoner proceeding pro se, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against individuals employed by the Oregon Department of Corrections, alleging that his Eighth Amendment right was violated by the failure of the defendants to provide adequate medical care. Before the court is defendants' motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, I grant the motion.
The following facts are taken from plaintiff's pleadings and exhibits, and from the declaration of defendant Steven Shelton, M.D.
Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at the Oregon State Penitentiary, and has been incarcerated there at all times relevant to this action. Plaintiff complains Dr. Hansen,  Dr. Vargo, Karen Ireland (a nurse), Jennifer Stevens (a nurse supervisor), Dr. Shelton (the Medical Director), and Michael Gower (Assistant Director of Operations) failed to properly treat his back condition and negatively affected the health of his liver.
Plaintiff signed his initial Complaint on February 22, 2013,  and his Supplemental Complaint was filed on June 4, 2013. I denied plaintiff's motion to further supplement his complaint by order dated May 14, 2014, and I denied his motion for reconsideration of that order in July of this year. In his opposition to defendants' motion for summary judgment, plaintiff refers to events that occurred in late 2013 and in 2014. These events postdate plaintiff's pleadings, however; the events relevant to plaintiff's case are limited to those that occurred prior to June 4, 2013.
The crux of plaintiff's complaint arises from Dr. Hansen's treatment of his back condition with anti-inflammatory medications, rather than more aggressive pain medications. He believes Dr. Hansen's treatment decisions caused his liver damage.
Plaintiff initially complained of low back pain in November 2010. Four different physicians examined plaintiff between then and February 24, 2012, prescribing bed rest, heat packs, an extra pillow, and different non-steroidal anti-inflammatories including Relafen, naproxen, and ketoprofen. The prison ordered x-rays of plaintiff's back in October 2011, which revealed lumbar scoliosis, spondylosis, and chronic left sacroileitus. The doctors also told him to lose weight, walk, and perform back exercises.
As relevant to his complaint, Dr. Hansen examined plaintiff on February 28, May 8, and November 27, 2012 and on March 5 (allegedly), March 26, and April 16, 2013. Three other physicians also treated plaintiff during this time: Dr. Paulson (on August 28, 2012), Dr. Elmore (April 12, 2013), and Dr. Degner (June 21, 2013).
Plaintiff alleges that during his first visit with Dr. Hansen in 2012, plaintiff reported severe back pain and Dr. Hansen refused him pain medication or any back or arch supports. The medical records reflect plaintiff told Dr. Hansen his back was stiff and painful upon waking in the morning, but that his back improved with activity. He had no radiation in his legs. Dr. Hansen prescribed an extra pillow and ketoprofen.
Plaintiff's only problem with Ireland appears to arise out of her response to his grievance on March 22, 2012, in which plaintiff had complained that Dr. Hansen was incompetent, and that he had not prescribed muscle relaxants, stronger analgesics, a back brace, arch supports, or a wider mattress. In response, Ireland affirmed Dr. Hansen's opinion that plaintiff's arthritis was not curable. Ireland also told plaintiff that he was "scheduled to see Dr. Vargo for a 2nd opinion in the near future." Compl. Ex. B. Stevens signed Ireland's response as Ireland's supervisor. Contrary to Ireland's representation, Dr. Vargo never examined plaintiff. Accordingly, plaintiff's claim against Dr. Vargo is that he "refused to reevaluate me for a second opinion." Compl. Add. ¶ 17. His claims against Ireland and Stevens are that they responded to his grievance with deliberate indifference, they are not doctors and cannot confirm appropriate treatment, and they failed to refer him to a specialist for treatment.
Similarly, plaintiff's only claim against Dr. Shelton arises from the doctor's denial of plaintiff's grievance appeal; in that response, Dr. Shelton explained that plaintiff's plan of care did not reflect any indifference by Dr. Hansen. Compl. Ex. D (June 18, 2012). Plaintiff ...