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Ward v. Hill

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Western Division

September 2, 2014

ALPHONSO T. WARD, Plaintiff,
v.
UNKNOWN HILL, UNKNOWN VANCE, UNKNOWN STEVENSON, AND ERNESTEIN JACKSON, Defendants,

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

F. KEITH BALL, Magistrate Judge.

The Court held an omnibus hearing[1] in this matter, at which time it conferred with Plaintiff and counsel for Defendants in this suit founded upon 42 U.S.C. § 1983. At that hearing, the parties consented to have a United States Magistrate Judge conduct any and all further proceedings in the case and order the entry of final judgment, and the District Judge subsequently entered an order of reference. 28 U.S.C. § 636(c); Fed.R.Civ.P. 73. Ward is proceeding in this matter in forma pauperis and pro se.

Before the Court are Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [51] and related filings by the parties [52, 54, 55, 56]. For the reasons explained in this Memorandum Opinion and Order, the Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.

Plaintiff Ward has filed a Motion for Ruling [50], which is hereby granted to the extent set forth in this Memorandum Opinion and Order. Ward has also filed a Motion for Appointment of Counsel [57], which is hereby denied for the same reasons Ward's previous requests to appoint counsel were denied. See Orders [35, 49].

I. Plaintiff's Claims

Plaintiff is a convicted inmate who, at all times relevant to the claims in this action, was housed at Wilkinson County Correctional Facility ("WCCF"). At the time of the events alleged in the complaint, Defendants were employees of the WCCF. As named in the Complaint, Defendants are C.O. Hill, C.O. Jackson, Nurse Vance, and Nurse Stevenson. In sum, Ward alleges that Defendants failed to give him adequate medical attention in relation to a selfinflicted, accidental wound.

According to the Complaint, on November 29 or 30, 2010, Ward had laser surgery to remove a wart in his genital area. [1] at 4. Ward alleges that on or about December 2, 2010, around 3:00 a.m., while using the toilet, he accidentally injured himself in his genital area where the surgery had been performed. Id. The injury to his genital area caused him to bleed "real bad." Id. He pressed the intercom for help, but the officer on duty, Defendant Hill, did not answer his call. A floor officer, Officer Jones, came to Ward's aid and informed Defendant Hill of Ward's emergency needs, to which Defendant Hill did not respond. Id. at 6. Ward alleges that he began kicking his cell door to get help, and after about five to ten minutes, Defendant Hill called Unit Manager McDonald and Defendant Nurse Vance. Id.

When Unit Manager McDonald and Defendant Nurse Vance arrived, they observed that Ward was bleeding. Id. Defendant Nurse Vance gave Ward a gauze pad to stop the bleeding. Id. Plaintiff relates that Unit Manager McDonald advised Vance to make sure the pad was placed properly to stop the bleeding. Id. Ward alleges that he repeatedly asked Nurse Vance to take him to "medical, " but that she refused his request and informed him that she would let him see a doctor at 8:00 a.m. Id.

Plaintiff alleges that about twenty minutes after McDonald and Vance left, the gauze pad was blood-soaked and unusable. Id. He alleges that he pressed the intercom and asked Defendant Defendant Hill for help, but Hill would not answer the intercom. Id. at 7. Ward alleges that when floor Officer Jones came back onto the zone, Ward informed Jones of the emergency. Id. Immediately, Jones directly called Unit Manager McDonald, who returned to Ward's cell. Id. Ward informed McDonald that Hill had not answered his requests for help through the intercom. Id. At that time, McDonald went to medical and obtained more gauze pads for Ward. Id.

Ward was taken to the doctor at 8:00 a.m., but in his complaint he does not clarify who took him or the condition of his bleeding. A Nurse Burkhalter[2] examined him and allegedly said that Defendant Nurse Vance should have brought him to medical or to a hospital immediately when he injured himself because he could have bled to death. Id. at 7. Ward alleges that between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., Nurse Burkhalter cleaned and disinfected the injured area, as well as applied eight stitches to the wound. Id.

As for follow-up care, Ward alleges that Nurse Burkhalter cleaned and dressed the wound on December 3, 2010. Id. at 8. He also alleges that Nurse Burkhalter directed him to get a shower. Id. However, Ward alleges that over the next few days, Defendant Nurse Stevenson would not allow him to go to medical to have his wound cleaned and dressed. Id. In addition, he alleges that Defendant Jackson, a tower officer, denied his requests to shower. Id. at 8-9. On December 6, 2010, while inmates were out of their cells, Ward went into the "sallyport" to ask Defendant Jackson to call medical, however, at that time Defendant Jackson "wrote [him] up for being in the sallyport, " despite being aware of his medical needs. Id. at 9. Ward alleges that he was able to go to medical to have his wound dressed on December 6, and that he was allowed to shower some time later that day. Id. He also alleges that Defendants Jackson and Hill threatened him after he filed his grievance forms. Id.

Plaintiff seeks 2.2 million dollars for punitive damages, emotional distress, nominal damages, and actual damages. Id. at 4. Plaintiff also seeks to have Defendants discharged from their positions, Id. at 5, and to be moved from WCCF. Id. at 9.[3]

Ward was given an opportunity to elaborate upon his claims at the omnibus hearing held in this matter. The Court construes his testimony as a part of his complaint and notes that Ward shed new light on some details about his injury and the subsequent events. At the hearing, Ward related that his accidental injury in the early morning hours of December 2, 2010, was caused by a knife that he had hidden in his pants. [51-1] at 7. He testified that when he jumped on his bed, his knife cut him in the same area in which he had recently had surgery. Id.[4] He alleged that Officer Hill neglected him when she refused to answer the intercom. Id. at 19. Ward clarified that the length of time from his injury until Hill called Unit Manager McDonald was about twenty-five to thirty minutes. Id. at 9. Ward further alleged that Nurse Vance was negligent when she did not take him immediately to the emergency room, but instead made him wait to see a doctor at 8:00 a.m. in the facility. Id. at 10, 18. When he went to the medical area around 8:00 a.m., Nurse Burkhalter, assisted by Nurses Brown, Socier, and Thomas, applied 8 stitches to the wound, which stopped the bleeding. Id. at 12, 21. Ward testified that the wound became infected because medical personnel, such as Nurse Stephenson, refused to dress the wound. Id. at 13, 18. However, Ward acknowledged that Nurse Burkhalter and Nurse Socier changed his bandages every two to three days in consultation with a doctor. Id. at 13, 22, 23. These nurses also gave him antibiotics and treated him with other topical medication, and the wound healed within a month. Id. at 13, 21-23. He also testified that a doctor told him that he did not need to go to an emergency ...


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