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Hof v. Kaleka

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama

January 16, 2019

SHAIN C. HOF, Plaintiff,
v.
AARONJIT KALEKA, Defendant.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS THAT COURT GRANT DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OBJECTIONS DUE IN 14 DAYS ECF No. 25

         Plaintiff Shain C. Hof, a state prisoner, proceeds without counsel in this civil rights action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff sustained a lower leg injury on October 30, 2015, while walking down a stairway at Avenal State Prison (“ASP”) in Avenal, California. ECF No. 1 at 3. Plaintiff alleges that defendant Aaronjit Kaleka, a medical doctor and attending triage physician at ASP, was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Id. at 2. Plaintiff has also named Scott Kernan and E. Conanan as defendants, but these two defendants were dismissed at the screening stage.[1] See ECF No. 10.

         Kaleka moves for summary judgment, arguing that he was not deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's serious medical needs and that plaintiff was not harmed by his treatment decisions. See ECF No. 25-1. We recommend that the court grant Kaleka's motion for summary judgment because there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, and Kaleka is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

         I. Facts

         The relevant factual background of this case is not disputed.[2] Plaintiff injured his lower leg on October 30, 2015, at ASP. Plaintiff requested medical care for his injured lower leg from Kaleka on three instances between Saturday, October 31, 2015, and Monday, November 2, 2015. The central question here is whether Kaleka's responses to plaintiff's medical needs show deliberate indifference.

         a. Plaintiff sustains a lower leg injury on Friday, October 30

          At 8:30 p.m. on October 30, plaintiff slipped and missed a step while walking down a stairway in building 650 of ASP. DSUF1-2;[3] ECF No. 1 at 3. Although plaintiff immediately felt severe pain and his ankle began to swell, he did not immediately seek medical attention because he believed that he had only twisted his ankle. DSUF4; ECF No. 1 at 3. The following morning, plaintiff hobbled on the injured leg to the “chow, ”[4] ate breakfast, and returned to his dorm. DSUF5.

         b. Plaintiff first seeks medical attention on Saturday, October 31

          Plaintiff waited until the late morning of the next day, Saturday, October 31, to seek medical attention for his injured lower leg. DSUF6; ECF No. 1 at 3. Plaintiff was first seen by an unidentified “F yard” nurse, who requested that he be transported to the ASP Triage Treatment Center. ECF No. 1 at 3.

         At triage, plaintiff was first seen at intake by Nurse Bitmead. DSUF8; ECF No. 1 at 3. Nurse Bitmead noted that plaintiff complained that his right ankle hurt and was swollen and could not bear weight. DSUF8. Nurse Bitmead further noted that plaintiff's right ankle and ` foot were swollen with some purple discoloration on the inner side of the ankle. DSUF8. She described plaintiff as calm and cooperative, showing no signs of distress, with clear speech, even and unlabored respirations, and no open wounds, bleeding or drainage. DSUF8.

         Following intake, plaintiff was examined by defendant Kaleka, a medical doctor. DSUF9; ECF No. 1 at 3-4. Plaintiff told Kaleka how the injury occurred and described his symptoms. DSUF11; ECF No. 1 at 4. Plaintiff requested immediate transport to an outside medical facility for treatment. ECF No. 1 at 4. Kaleka noted that plaintiff's right ankle had swelling, tenderness, and a limited range of motion. DSUF11. He concluded that plaintiff had sprained, rather than fractured, his ankle, and that immediate transport to an outside medical facility was unnecessary. DSUF11-12.

         Kaleka issued several orders to treat plaintiff's lower leg injury. DSUF14; ECF No. 1 at 3-4. He prescribed plaintiff a pain reliever: Tylenol #3 with codeine. DSUF14; ECF No. 1 at 3. Additionally, plaintiff: (1) received and was instructed on how to use crutches, (2) was issued a chrono for a temporary low bunk; (3) had his ankle wrapped with a supportive bandage; and (4) was instructed to keep his right foot elevated. DSUF14; ECF No. 1 at 3-4. Finally, x-rays were scheduled for Monday morning, when the prison radiology department re-opened, and a follow-up appointment was scheduled for Tuesday. DSUF14; ECF No. 1 at 4. Plaintiff was released at 3:30 p.m. DSUF14.

         c. Plaintiff seeks medical attention for a second time on October 31

         After the appointment, plaintiff returned to his housing assignment and later walked to the pill and chow line. ECF No. 1 at 4. Later that evening, plaintiff noticed that his foot and ankle were turning purple in color, that pain and swelling had increased, and that blisters had developed on his ankle and had begun to burst. DSUF15-17; ECF No. 1 at 4. Plaintiff again sought medical treatment and returned to the ASP Triage Treatment Center at midnight on Sunday, November 1. DSUF18.

         Shortly thereafter, Kaleka received a telephone call from the examining nurse reporting that plaintiff had returned to triage and was complaining of increased pain, bruising, and blisters. DSUF19; ECF No. 1 at 4. Kaleka understood the reported symptoms to be consistent ` with an ankle sprain and ordered new pain medication for plaintiff. DSUF19; ECF No. 1 at 4. Plaintiff's ankle was re-wrapped by the nurse, the follow-up appointment with a physician was advanced to Monday morning after the x-rays, and Kaleka reiterated his instructions for plaintiff to use crutches. DSUF19. Plaintiff was released to custody in stable condition at 1:00 a.m. DSUF19. Plaintiff asked again to be transported to an outside medical facility, but the request was denied. ECF No. 1 at 4-5.

         Later that day, plaintiff again requested medical treatment at the ASP Triage Treatment Center, but access ...


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