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Jackson v. Reid

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

January 25, 2018

KATHY REID and KATHERINE POWERS-JOHNSON, individually, and TOM ROY, in his official capacity, Defendants.

          Ronnie Jerome Jackson, III, pro se plaintiff.

          Lindsay LaVoie, OFFICE OF THE MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL, for defendants.



         Plaintiff Ronnie Jackson brought this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against Kathy Reid, [1] the Health Services Administrator at Minnesota Correctional Facility - Oak Park Heights (“MCF-OPH”), in her individual capacity; Katherine Powers-Johnson, a nurse at MCF-OPH, in her individual capacity; and Tim Roy, Commissioner of Corrections for the Minnesota Department of Corrections (“DOC”), in his official capacity (collectively, “Defendants”). Jackson alleges that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Presently before the Court is a report and recommendation (“R&R”) issued by Magistrate Judge Thorson on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and Jackson's Objections to the R&R. Because the Court finds that Defendants' conduct did not constitute deliberate indifference, the Court will overrule Jackson's objections and adopt the Magistrate Judge's R&R.


         Jackson is a prisoner detained at MCF-OPH. (Am Compl. ¶ 1, Sept. 27, 2016, Docket No. 13.) He alleges that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in two ways: (1) Powers-Johnson refused to provide him with Zoloft, an antidepressant medication that he was prescribed, on April 9 and 23, 2016; and (2) Powers-Johnson failed to perform wellness checks for his shoulder injury on several days while Jackson was in administrative segregation and falsely reported that he did not have any medical issues on those dates. (Id. ¶¶ 1-2, 17.) He alleges that he informed Reid of Powers-Johnson's refusal to provide adequate medical care, but Reid denied any wrongdoing on the part of medical staff. (Id. ¶ 1.)


         A. Refusal to Provide Jackson with Zoloft

         Jackson has been diagnosed with depressive and anxiety disorders and has been prescribed Zoloft to treat these disorders. (Aff. of Dr. David Paulson (“Paulson Aff.”) ¶¶ 9-10, June 14, 2017, Docket No. 38; see also Am. Compl. ¶ 1.) Zoloft is an antidepressant medication that is used to treat various mental health conditions. (Paulson Aff. ¶ 11.) According to Dr. David Paulson, the Medical Director for the Minnesota DOC, Zoloft has a half-life of over 24 hours, which is “the period of time required for the concentration or amount of the drug in the body to be reduced by one-half.” (Id. ¶¶ 1, 12.) It also has a slow onset of action, which is “the length of time it takes for a drug's effects to come to prominence upon administration.” (Id. ¶ 13.) Paulson opines that “[i]f Zoloft is held or stopped the decrease in effectiveness declines slowly, ” meaning that “[m]issing a single dose has little effect.” (Id.)

         1. Jackson's Allegations

         Jackson alleges that he went to visitation to see family at approximately 11:38 a.m. on April 9, 2016, for a one-hour visit.[2] (Am. Compl. ¶ 10.) Before going, Jackson asked his unit staff to call medical to have his noon dosage of Zoloft brought to him and was told it would be brought to him “later.” (Id.) After returning from the visit, Jackson again requested his Zoloft and was told someone would bring it to him at 4:00 p.m. (Id.) Jackson alleges that he never received his Zoloft on April 9, and that “Powers-Johnson falsifie[d] his medical record alleging [that he] ‘refused' and was ‘non-compliant.'” (Id.) He does not allege suffering any symptoms or complaining of symptoms on April 9.

         Jackson also alleges that he was called for visitation around 11:39 a.m. on April 23, 2016, “which came as a surprise to him.” (Id. ¶ 12.) Again he asked for his noon dosage of Zoloft before he left and was told he would receive it after the visit. (Id.) During the visit, Jackson learned of the death of his uncle, who Jackson considered a father figure, and realized that he would be unable to attend the funeral. (Id.) Upon returning from the visit, Jackson requested his Zoloft but was told that Powers-Johnson was not going to change her schedule just to bring him his medication. (Id.) She again “falsifie[d] his medical record saying he was a ‘no show.'” (Id. ¶ 13.) That night, Jackson alleges that he suffered from “extreme depression and anxiety, well beyond the norm for him, to the point of suicide, as well as severe upset stomach, nausea, and heavy perspiration” as a result of his depression and missed dosage of Zoloft. (Id. ¶ 12.)

         2. Defendants' Response

         Reid confirms that Jackson's medical records show that he “refused” his Zoloft on April 9 and that he was a “no-show” on April 23. (Aff. of Kathryn Reid (“Reid Aff.”) ¶ 6, June 14, 2017, Docket No. 49.)[3] She alleges that Jackson also “refused” Zoloft on several other dates. (Id.) According to redacted MCF-OPH visiting logs, Jackson did not have a visitor on April 9 but had a visitor on April 23. (Id. ¶ 7, Ex. B & C.) Reid states that an inmate can “work with staff” to reschedule delivery of medication when he or she has a visitor, but Jackson did not do so on April 23. (Reid Aff. ¶ 6.) She also notes that only prescribing physicians, not unit staff, can change prescription times. (Id. ¶ 8.)

         Paulson also notes that Jackson did not take his Zoloft consistently before April 9 or after April 23, 2016. (Paulson Aff. ¶ 15.) He opines that, due to Zoloft's long half-life, the symptoms that Jackson experienced on April 23 were not withdrawal symptoms from Zoloft because the medicine still would have been present in his system. (Id. ¶ 14.) Furthermore, Jackson did not request a sick call on April 23 or on the following days, nor did he press the duress button in his cell. (Id. ¶ 17; Reid Aff. ¶ 8.) Paulson also opines that the symptoms Jackson suffered on April 23 were more likely brought on by grief due to loss of his family member rather than missing his medication given that Jackson had missed his medications in the past and never noted such symptoms. (Paulson Aff. ¶ 18.)

         B. Failure to Perform Wellness Checks

         Jackson also alleges that Powers-Johnson failed to perform wellness checks on him on May 21-23 and June 1, 2016, while he was in administrative segregation. (Am. Compl. ¶ 17.)[4] Jackson was in “terrible pain” from a shoulder injury and in need of pain medication. (Id.) He alleges that Powers-Johnson “documented falsely” that she had performed such checks and that he “had ‘no medical issues.'” (Id. ¶¶ 1, 17.) Jackson states that, had he been provided a wellness check on the relevant dates, he would have been able to receive his pain medication in a timely matter, “thus preventing numerous days of unbearable pain.” (Id. at 10.)

         Reid notes that nurses conduct wellness checks only on people in segregation to ensure that they have “direct and timely access to healthcare.” (Reid Aff. ¶ 10.) Records indicate that a nurse performed a wellness check on Jackson on May 21-23 and June 1, 2016. (Id. ¶ 10, Exs. G-J.) Reid alleges that Powers-Johnson saw Jackson on May 23, 2016, for his shoulder pain. (Id. ¶ 10.) Paulson notes that Jackson was prescribed Indocin for his shoulder pain, which is a “keep on your person” drug, and that “it appears that Jackson had his anti-inflammatory medications with him in his cell.” (Paulson Aff. ¶ 20.) Jackson saw the treating physician on May 25, 2016, and said that he had been taking Indocin as prescribed. (Id.) However, records from that date note that Jackson reported “no improvement in his shoulder pain” and reported that “his pain ha[d] worsened somewhat” because he “no longer has access to the ice or the Thera-Bands” he used in general population. (Id. ¶ 20, Ex. H at 3.) He also reported that he was having pain in both shoulders because he had to “change the fashion in which he sleeps.” (Id.) The treating physician discontinued treatment with Indocin and prescribed a different medication to treat the pain. (Id. at 4.) Records indicate that Jackson was also seen on June 1, 2016. (Id. at 5.)

         C. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

         Jackson alleges that he wrote Defendant Reid to inform her of Powers-Johnson's refusal to give him medication, but her responses denied any wrongdoing, stating instead that medications could be given within 30 minutes of their prescribed time. (Am. Compl. ¶ 14.) He then attempted to file a medical grievance, but it was returned with a note saying that Reid was out of the office. (Id. ¶¶ 15-16.) He later resubmitted the grievance as instructed and additionally filed a complaint with the Minnesota Board of Nursing against Powers-Johnson. (Id. ¶ 18.) He alleges that Reid returned his medical grievance without providing him with the correct institutional response papers, “effectively barring Mr. Jackson from appealing any denial of his medical grievance.” (Id. ¶ 19.) He attempted to appeal the denied grievance to the DOC Central Office, but it was returned to him because he did not submit the institutional response, even though he alleges he had submitted the response that was given to him. (Id. ¶ 20.)


         Jackson filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action on July 13, 2016. (Compl. at 1.) He later filed an amended complaint. (Am. Compl.) Defendants moved for summary judgment on June 14, 2017, (Defs.'s Mot. Summ. J., June 14, 2017, Docket No. 34.), which Jackson opposed, (Pl.'s Opp., July 10, 2017, Docket No. 58.). In his Oposition, Jackson indicated that Defendant Roy should be voluntarily dismissed from the action. (Id. at 8.) The Magistrate Judge issued an R&R recommending that summary judgment be granted and all parties be ...

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