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McCauley v. Groblewski

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

August 29, 2018



          Denise J. Casper United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Martin McCauley ("McCauley") has filed this lawsuit pro se, alleging violations of hi s Ei ghth Amendment rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and the Rehabilitation Act and a medical malpractice claim. D. 36. Over the course of this litigation, the Court has dismissed certain claims and defendants, D. 37; D. 83, and referred McCauley's medical malpractice claim to a medical malpractice tribunal in accordance with Mass. Gen. L. c. 231, § 6OB. D. 102. McCauley's surviving claims include ADA and Rehabilitation Act claims against Defendants Turco and Medeiros (the "Commonwealth Defendants"), as well as ADA, Rehabilitation Act and § 1983 claims against Defendants Angeles, Atkins, Byron, Groblewski, Lubelczyk and Massachusetts Partnership Correctional Health (the "Medical Defendants") (collectively, the "Defendants"). Pending before the Court are Defendants' motions for summary judgment, D. 127; D. 132, as well as Defendants' motion to strike, D. 144, Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to comply with a court order, D. 153, and Defendants' motion to continue the trial date, D. 153. Also pending are McCauley's motion for extension of time to file an opposition, D. 145, a motion to compel discovery, D. 146, and McCauley's opposition and cross-motion for summary judgment, D. 155. For the reasons set forth below, the Court ALLOWS Defendants' motions for summary judgment, DENIES McCauley's cross-motion for summary judgment and DENIES as moot the remaining motions that are pending.[1]

         II. Standard of Review

         The Court grants summary judgment where there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the undisputed facts demonstrate that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "A fact is material if it carries with it the potential to affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable law." Santiago-Ramos v. Centennial P.R. Wireless Corp., 217 F.3d 46, 52 (1st Cir. 2000) (quoting Sanchez v. Alvarado, 101 F.3d 223, 227 (1st Cir. 1996)) (internal quotation marks omitted). The movant "bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Carmona v. Toledo, 215 F.3d 124, 132 (1st Cir. 2000); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If the movant meets his burden, the non-moving party "may not rest upon mere allegation or denials of his pleading," Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986), but "must, with respect to each issue on which [he] would bear the burden of proof at trial, demonstrate that a trier of fact could reasonably resolve that issue in [his] favor," Borges ex rel. S.M.B.W. v. Serrano-Isern, 605 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2010). "As a general rule, that requires the production of evidence that is 'significant[ly] probative.'" Id. (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249) (alteration in original). The Court "view[s] the record in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, drawing reasonable inferences in his favor." Noonan v. Staples, Inc., 556 F.3d 20, 25 (1st Cir. 2009).

         III. Procedural History

         McCauley instituted this action on June 25, 2014. D. 1. McCauley filed an amended complaint on August 9, 2016. D. 36. Subsequently, the Court dismissed claims against UMass Correctional Health System pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § l9l5A(b)(2). D. 37. On March 17, 2017, the remaining Defendants moved to dismiss. D. 71; D. 73; D. 75. The Court dismissed all claims against Governor Charles Baker for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), and dismissed all claims against Cynthia Sumner and Lynn Lizotte as a result of McCauley's failure to serve these Defendants properly under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(5). D. 83. The Court also dismissed the § 1983 claim against the Commonwealth Defendants. Id. The § 1983, ADA and Rehabilitation claims against the Medical Defendants, however, survived, along with the ADA and Rehabilitation claims against the Commonwealth Defendants. Id. The remaining Defendants now move for summary judgment on the claims against them. D. 127; D. 132.

         McCauley failed to file a timely opposition to Defendants' motions for summary judgment. D. 115. On July 23, 2018, two days before the hearing on Defendants' motions for summary judgment, D. 127; D. 132, and McCauley's pending motion for discovery, D. 124, McCauley filed a motion requesting additional time to file an opposition to the summary judgment motions, D. 137. The Court denied McCauley's request, D. 139, in light of the age of this litigation, the fact that McCauley has already received extensions on multiple occasions, [2] the pending motions for summary judgment and the fact that McCauley has been on notice of the summary judgment hearing date since at least April 2018, D. 115 (setting motion hearing for July 25, 2018).

         On July 25, 2018, the Court heard the parties on the pending motions for summary judgment. During oral argument, McCauley provided the Court with a statement he had prepared for the hearing, D. 142, and which the Court agreed to consider along with the motions for summary judgment. D. 141. The Court also heard the parties on McCauley's pending motion for discovery, D. 124, which the Court denied. D. 141. In addition, the Court granted McCauley's request for leave to file an opposition to Defendants' motions after the hearing. Id. Per the Court's instruction, McCauley was to file an opposition by no later than August 8, 2018, and no further extensions were expected. Id.

         On August 8, 2018, McCauley filed a copy of the Medical Defendants' statement of material facts that includes handwritten notes purportedly responding to the facts proffered by the Medical Defendants. D. 143. On August 15, 2018, the Medical Defendants filed a motion to strike McCauley's response to its statement of material facts for failure to comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 and Local Rule 56.1. D. 144. McCauley filed a motion for extension of time to August 16, 2018 to file an opposition to Defendants' motions for summary judgment, D. 145, a renewed motion for discovery, D. 146, and McCauley's third motion for appointment of counsel, D. 148. Defendants have opposed these motions, D. 149; 150; 151, and filed joint motions to continue the trial date, D. 154, or, in the alternative, to dismiss in light of McCauley's failure to comply with the Court's deadline to file an opposition to summary judgment, D. 153.

         McCauley's opposition to Defendants' motions for summary judgment, cross-motion for summary judgment and a statement of material facts were filed on August 22, 2018.[3] D. 155; D. 156. McCauley also filed supporting exhibits on August 23, 2018. D. 160. In light of McCauley's pro se status, the Court has considered these filings to the extent relevant, despite the delay and McCauley's failure to adhere to various federal and local rules of civil procedure, including Local Rule 7.1(b)(4) (explaining that memoranda supporting or opposing allowance of motions shall not, without leave of court, exceed twenty pages).

         IV. Factual Background

         The following facts are drawn primarily from the parties' statements of material facts, D. 129; D. 134; D. 156, and supporting materials. The facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted. McCauley is an inmate currently incarcerated at Massachusetts Correctional Institution-Norfolk ("MCI-Norfolk"), which is part of the Massachusetts Department of Correction ("DOC"). D. 134 ¶ 1. With the exception of thirteen months during which McCauley resided at MCI-Shirley between 2014 and 2015, McCauley has primarily served his sentence at MCI-Norfolk. D. 134 ¶ 2.

         A. McCauley's Medical Care

         McCauley suffers from several health issues, including issues with his back, shoulder, thumb and discomfort caused by his dentures. D. 156 ¶¶ 5, 69. Since July 1, 2013, Defendant Massachusetts Partnership for Correctional Healthcare, LLC ("MPCH"), a privately-owned company under contract with DOC, has overseen McCauley's medical treatment. D. 134 ¶ 6. Prior to July 1, 2013, UMass Correctional Healthcare provided medical services at DOC facilities. D. 134 ¶4.

         1. Medical Treatment for Back Issues

         McCauley has severe scoliosis, degenerative joint disease of the spine, spinal stenosis, Hepatitis C and chronic back pain. D. 129 ¶ 4; D. 134 ¶ 3. McCauley's back problems were first documented by UMass Correctional Healthcare in 1983. D. 156 ¶ 8; D. 160-2 at 1. In 2003, a MRI of McCauley's back revealed "[s]evere degenerative disc disease at the L4-5 level with vacuum disc phenomena being identified, without evidence of a focally herniated or lateralizing disc." D. 156 ¶ 8; D. 160-6 at 2. In a follow-up letter, a physician explained that although McCauley's MRI showed significant degenerative disease nothing "seems to suggest that surgical treatment" was necessary at the time. D. 160-2 at 6. The letter further states that "consideration could be given to epidural steroid injections, but. . . continued supportive treatment would be the best for [McCauley]." Id. Between 2003 and 2012, McCauley received multiple MRIs of his back, epidural steroid injections to reduce his pain, physical therapy, as well as several consultations with orthopedic physicians, arthritis specialists, neurologists and neurosurgeons. See generally, D. 160-6. In 2006 and 2008, McCauley was referred to a neurosurgeon, who suggested nonsurgical management for McCauley's pain, Id. at 14, 17, which McCauley received, ii at 18. At the neurosurgeon's recommendation, McCauley was eventually referred to a spine neurosurgery specialist, Dr. Ron Riesenburger, Id. at 20, 25, who similarly indicated that surgery was not recommended and referred McCauley to physical therapy, Id. at 27-28; see D. 134 ¶ 39; D. 135-1 at3.[4]

         On July 30, 2012, Dr. Riesenburger discussed the benefits of back surgery with McCauley, and McCauley asked for more time to think about it. D. 160-6 at 36. On November 16, 2012, McCauley requested that any surgery on his back be delayed until he could secure a "single cell." D. 134 ¶ 42; D. 135-1 at 16. Shortly thereafter, Defendant Lubelczyk took over McCauley's care at MCI-Norfolk and referred him to another neurosurgeon. On March 28, 2013, Lubelczyk told McCauley that his new neurosurgeon, Dr. Massengale, had recommended back surgery. D. 134 ¶ 45; D. 135-1 at 22. That day, McCauley told Lubelczyk that he wanted to defer the procedure, and he reiterated this request on April 12, 2013.[5] D. 134 ¶¶ 45, 47; D. 135-1 at 22, 23. On April 19, 2013, McCauley informed Lubelczyk that he was ready for surgery. D. 134 ¶ 48; D. 135-1 at 24. The surgery, which involved "an extensive fusion with rods," was completed on July 20, 2013. D. 134 ¶ 51.

         After surgery, McCauley was sent to the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center infirmary for recovery and physical therapy. D. 134 ¶52. McCauley returned to MCI-Norfolk on September 27, 2013. D. 134 ¶ 54. Between October 2013 and January 2014, McCauley met with Lubelczyk regarding his back on at least nine occasions. See generally, D. 134 ¶¶55-73; 135-1. In addition to examining McCauley's back, Lubelczyk also requested and followed-up on requests for MRIs on McCauley's behalf, D. 134 ¶¶ 61, 66, 68, 71; D. 135-1 at 36, 39, 41; requested the implementation of medical restrictions, a handicapped shower and a walker in light of McCauley's pain and surgery, D. 134 ¶¶ 72-73; 135-1 at 41; and admitted McCauley into the Assisted Daily Living ("ADL") unit, which is the health services unit at MCI-Norfolk. D. 134 ¶ 69; D. 135-1 at 39. Lubelczyk treated McCauley for the last time on January 2, 2014. D. 134 ¶73.

         In January 2014, McCauley underwent a second surgery on his back. D. 134 ¶ 75; D. 135-1 at 47. After his surgery, McCauley was sent to the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital until May 14, 2014 and then to MCI-Shirley for rehabilitation and physical therapy until May 2015. D. 134 ¶ 76. Defendant Angeles also ordered additional scans of McCauley's back at least as late as April 2015. D. 36-3 at 16-19. In January 2017, Dr. Massengale recommended McCauley for a posterior cervical ...

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