United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Jasper Division
ERIC C. DAVIDSON, Plaintiff,
CORIZON, Inc., f/k/a/ CORRECTIONAL MEDICAL SERVICES, Inc., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA, District Judge.
Plaintiff Eric C. Davidson is a state prisoner serving a 20-year sentence in the custody of the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC). Defendant Corizon, Inc. is a private medical contractor responsible for providing health care services to ADOC inmates. Mr. Davidson alleges that while he was housed at various ADOC institutions, Corizon provided grossly inadequate medical care for his recurrent ear infections. In this action, Mr. Davidson brings suit against Corizon for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Corizon has asked the Court to enter judgment as a matter of law in its favor on Mr. Davidson's claim. (Doc. 70). For the reasons stated below, the Court denies Corizon's motion for summary judgment.
I. STANDARD OF REVIEW
"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). To demonstrate that there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact that precludes summary judgment, a party opposing a motion for summary judgment must cite "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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). When considering a summary judgment motion, the Court must view the evidence in the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Hill v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 510 Fed.Appx. 810, 813 (11th Cir. 2013). "The court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3).
II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Eric C. Davidson is an inmate in the custody of the Alabama Department of Corrections. (Doc. 74-1, p. 3). Corizon is a private medical contractor responsible for providing health care services to inmates with the Alabama Department of Corrections. (Doc. 78-1, ¶ 2). Corizon was created on June 3, 2011 as a result of the merger of two organizations: Correctional Medical Services, Inc. (CMS) and Prison Health Services, Inc. (PHS). (Doc. 78-1, ¶ 3).
From February 1998 through February 2001, CMS held the medical care contract with the Alabama Department of Corrections. (Doc. 78, p. 2). NaphCare, Inc., an organization that is not affiliated with Corizon, held the contract from February 2001 to November 2004. (Doc. 78, p. 2). In November 2004, PHS took over the contract, which it held until November 1, 2007. (Doc. 78-1, ¶ 3). CMS took over the contract on November 1, 2007 and continued to hold the contract until merging with PHS to create Corizon in June 2011. (Doc. 78-1, ¶ 3). As of June 14, 2014, Corizon held the contract to provide medical services for the Alabama Department of Corrections. (Doc. 78-1, ¶ 2).
In September 2000, while under the care of Corizon at the Kilby Correctional Facility, Mr. Davidson suffered his first of many ear infections. (Doc. 74-1, p. 7). At that time, he took a shower after a maintenance upgrade was performed on the prison plumbing. (Doc. 74-1, p. 8). When Mr. Davidson turned on the shower, rust and grit came out of the pipe and went into his eye and ear. (Doc. 74-1, p. 8). Two or three days later, Mr. Davidson developed an earache and fever and had fluid draining from his ear. (Doc. 74-1, p. 8). The infirmary gave Mr. Davidson Tylenol or Ibuprofen and the antibiotic Erythromycin, but he had an allergic reaction to the Erythromycin. (Doc. 74-1, p. 8). Next, the infirmary treated Mr. Davidson with the antibiotic Keflex, which cleared up the infection for about two months before the infection returned. (Doc. 74-1, p. 8). Mr. Davidson continued to have recurring infections for the next several years. (Doc. 74-1, pp. 9, 10).
In early 2001, Mr. Davidson was transferred from Kilby to the Bullock Correctional Facility where he stayed for approximately two years, and where he continued to have problems with recurring ear infections. (Doc. 74-1, p. 10). During this time, Mr. Davidson was under the care of NaphCare, an entity that is not affiliated with Corizon. The medical professionals at Bullock prescribed antibiotics, which cleared up his infection for some period of time. (Doc. 74-1, pp. 10-11). At some point during his time at Bullock, Mr. Davidson was sent to an audiologist who diagnosed him as having some hearing loss, but not enough to warrant hearing aids. (Doc. 74-1, p. 11). Also during his time at Bullock, Mr. Davidson made his first request to see an outside specialist about his recurring ear infections. (Doc. 74-1, pp. 12-13).
In 2003, Mr. Davidson was transferred to the Easterling Correctional Facility, where he had another ear infection that was treated with pain medication and the antibiotic Keflex. (Doc. 74-1, pp. 11, 12). Mr. Davidson renewed his request to see an outside specialist about his ear infections. The NaphCare staff denied this request but never refused to see or treat Mr. Davidson themselves. (Doc. 74-1, p. 12).
Corizon resumed responsibility for Mr. Davidson's medical care in November 2004. In 2005, Mr. Davidson was transferred to the Staton Correctional Facility. (Doc. 74-1, p. 14). When he arrived at that facility, he advised the medical staff of his recurrent ear infections and was initially prescribed an antibiotic. (Doc. 74-1, pp. 13-14). However, Mr. Davidson was taken off the antibiotic due to an allergic reaction. (Doc. 74-1, p. 14). Mr. Davidson states that he "went for a long period of time at Staton without treatment." (Doc. 74-1, p. 14). At one point while at Staton, Mr. Davidson went to the infirmary because a mix of what appeared to be blood and mucus was coming out of his ear. (Doc. 74-1, p. 14). Mr. Davidson states that the doctor told him he needed to see an ear specialist, but Mr. Davidson was never taken to an outside specialist during his stay at Staton. (Doc. 74-1, p. 14).
In June 2007, Mr. Davidson was transferred to the Limestone Correctional Facility where he informed the receiving nurse of his various medical issues, including the recurring infections in his right ear. (Doc. 74-1, pp. 14, 15). At that time, Mr. Davidson also suffered from complications from a bullet wound and was taking medication for his sinuses, acid reflux, and high blood pressure. (Doc. 74-1, p. 15). Because of his recurrent ear infections, the bullet wound, and the high blood pressure, Mr. Davidson was considered a "chronic care" patient and was seen in the Chronic Care Clinic on a monthly basis while at Limestone. (Doc. 74-1, pp. 15-16). If Mr. Davidson experienced problems with his ear in between clinic appointments, he would sign up for sick call, and a physician would see him. (Doc. 74-1, p. 16). At least three physicians prescribed antibiotics for Mr. Davidson's ear infections while he was at Limestone. (Doc. 74-1, p. 17).
In December 2009, Dr. Hood, the Associate Regional Medical Director for Corizon, examined Mr. Davidson's ear and found that "there was a missing tympanic membrane." (Doc. 74-2, p. 22). Dr. Hood referred Mr. Davidson for a surgery consult. (Doc. 74-2, p. 23). The December 14, 2009 consultation request states that Mr. Davidson had a "2 year history of [tympanic membrane] perforation, vertigo, dizziness, hearing loss." (Doc. 71-3, p. 1). Mr. Davidson went to an ENT specialist at UAB, Dr. Withrow, who ordered an audiogram and a CT scan of Mr. Davidson's temporal bone. (Doc. 71-2, ¶ 5). The CT of Mr. Davidson's temporal bone was taken on December 18, 2009. (Doc. 71-2, ¶ 6).
During a follow-up visit on April 5, 2010, Dr. Withrow recommended Mr. Davidson undergo a tympanoplasty, or ear drum repair. (Doc. 71-2, ¶ 8). Mr. Davidson subsequently was referred to an audiologist at the Center for Hearing in Athens, Alabama. (Doc. 71-2, ¶ 9). At Mr. Davidson's April 29, 2010 appointment, the audiologist noted that Mr. Davidson had "an air-bone gap" in his right ear due to his perforated eardrum. (Doc. 71-3, p. 6; Doc. 71-2, ¶ 9). The audiologist also fit Mr. Davidson's left ear with a hearing instrument to help with his hearing loss. (Doc. 71-2, ¶ 9).
Dr. Withrow ordered a second CT scan of Mr. Davidson's head, which was performed on July 1, 2010. (Doc. 71-2, ¶¶ 10, 11). On September 13, 2010, Mr. Davidson was taken to UAB for a pre-operative surgical appointment with Dr. Ben McGrew. (Doc. 71-2, ¶ 13). Before performing the surgery, Dr. McGrew recommended an MRI of Mr. Davidson's head, which was performed on November 9, 2010. (Doc. 71-2, ¶ 13).
Dr. McGrew performed the tympanoplasty surgery on November 15, 2010. (Doc. 71-2, ¶ 14). In the provider consultation report, Dr. McGrew ordered a follow-up appointment in three weeks. (Doc. 71-3, p. 18). Mr. Davidson was not returned to Dr. McGrew for a follow-up appointment until 25 weeks later on April 26, 2011, at which time Dr. McGrew noted that the perforation was closed. (Doc. 71-3, p. 27). In July 2011, Mr. Davidson complained that he was still suffering from infections in his right ear. (Doc. 71-2, ¶ 17). He was treated with medications ...