United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON MOTION OF DEFENDANT KRYSTAL
ANDERSON FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Dennis Saylor IV United States District Judge.
a civil rights action arising out of an alleged attack on a
prisoner by correctional officers at Souza Baranowski
Correctional Center. Plaintiff Franklin Abernathy has
asserted claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state tort
complaint alleges that several correctional officers
aggressively pulled and twisted Abernathy's arms through
a slot in his cell door, causing various injuries, and that
other officers either failed to intervene or attempted to
cover up the incident. It also alleges that the sole
remaining defendant, Krystal Anderson, a nurse at UMass
Correctional Health (“UMCH”), refused to provide
treatment to Abernathy. The complaint asserts claims against
Anderson for negligence, negligent infliction of emotional
distress (“NIED”), and a claim under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 for deliberate indifference to medical needs, in
violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States
reasons set forth below, Abernathy's injuries do not meet
the standard of a “serious medical need” within
the meaning of the Eighth Amendment, and therefore his claim
of deliberate indifference must fail. Furthermore, his claims
of negligence were referred to a medical malpractice
tribunal, which concluded that there was not sufficient
evidence to proceed, and he did not post the required bond.
Summary judgment will therefore be granted to nurse Anderson.
where otherwise noted, the following facts are set forth in
the record and are undisputed.
April 2013, Franklin Abernathy was an inmate at Souza
Baranowski Correctional Center (“SBCC”).
(Abernathy Aff. ¶ 1). He was assigned to a cell in the
Special Management Unit with inmate Leon Shelby.
(Id.; Def. Ex. 2 at 5).
Anderson was working as a nurse at SBCC on that date.
(Anderson Aff. ¶ 5; Anderson Dep. at 22-23). She was
employed by UMass Correctional Health (“UMCH”).
(Anderson Aff. ¶ 2). Her job responsibilities
included providing medical assessment and treatment to SBCC
Special Management Unit inmates. (Anderson Dep. at 29).
morning of April 3, 2013, correctional officer
(“CO”) Kyle Sheldon instructed Abernathy to
remove a blanket that Shelby had placed over the window in
the cell. (Abernathy Dep. at 53; Def. Ex. 2 at 5). Abernathy
refused because the blanket belonged to Shelby. (Abernathy
Dep. at 53). Shelby also refused to remove the blanket.
(Id.; Def. Ex. 2 at 5).
that morning, Sergeant Michael Rumery and Anderson came to
Abernathy's cell to administer his daily medications.
(Abernathy Dep. at 54-56; Def. Ex. 2 at 5). Sergeant Rumery
requested that Abernathy remove the blanket from the window,
but he again refused, explaining that the blanket belonged to
Shelby and therefore was not his responsibility. (Abernathy
Dep. at 55; Def. Ex. 2 at 5). Sergeant Rumery then instructed
Shelby to remove the blanket from the window, but Shelby
again refused. (Abernathy Dep. at 55). Sergeant Rumery told
Abernathy that he would not receive his prescribed medication
if the blanket was not removed from the window.
(Id.; Def. Ex. 2 at 5). He then instructed Anderson
not to give any medicine to Abernathy, stating that
“[h]e ain't getting shit.” (Abernathy Dep. at
57; Anderson Dep. at 45).
stated to OIS investigators that Abernathy received his
medication later that day after “everything calmed
down.” (Def. Ex. 2 at 27). Abernathy, however,
testified that he did not receive his medication until the
next day. (Abernathy Dep. at 174-75). He further
testified that the delay caused him to experience severe
chest pain, muscle spasms, and pain in his left shoulder for
24 hours. (Id.).
noon, CO Sheldon went to the cell to provide lunch.
(Id. at 64; Def. Ex. 2 at 5). An altercation between
CO Sheldon and Shelby ensued. Sergeant Rumery then returned
to the cell and ordered that Shelby and Abernathy be placed
in restraints. (Def. Ex. 2 at 6). Abernathy stuck his hands
out of the cell door to be handcuffed. (Abernathy Dep. at
testified that the correctional officers used force to put on
his handcuffs. He testified that they slammed or squeezed the
handcuffs on his wrists tightly, which stopped his
circulation, and that they pulled on the handcuffs, and
pulled and twisted his fingers and hands, causing bleeding
and pain. (Id. at 94-109; Abernathy Aff. ¶
the incident in the cell, Abernathy was escorted by
correctional officers to the Management Unit medical triage
room. (Abernathy Aff. ¶ 3). According to Abernathy,
Anderson was the nurse on duty at that time and was standing
in the doorway when he arrived. (Id. ¶ 4).
to Abernathy, he had visible cuts, bruises, and swelling.
(Id. ¶ 5). Shelby testified that he saw him
“bleeding out of his hand.” (Shelby Dep. at 53).
Abernathy contends that despite those visible injuries,
Anderson did not assess his medical needs and refused to
provide him with any medication or treatment. (Abernathy Aff.
¶¶ 5-6). He further testified that CO Shaun Dewey
told Anderson to treat him, to which she allegedly replied,
“I'm not giving him shit, and I'm not touching
him.” (Abernathy Dep. at 128).
deposition, which was taken in 2018, Anderson testified that
Abernathy never presented for a medical examination on April
3, 2013, and that she was never told that he wanted an
examination. (Anderson Dep. at 52). However, in 2013, she
stated to OIS investigators that she visually assessed
Abernathy on April 3, and that he appeared to be fine and had
no complaints. (Def. Ex. 2 at 26). At that time, she further
stated, as recounted by the investigators, that she did not
submit a medical assessment report because “Abernathy
was not the issue” in the altercation between CO
Sheldon and Shelby. (Id.).
is also a dispute as to the timing and nature of
Abernathy's injuries. Abernathy attested that
Anderson's failure to assess and treat his medical needs
and administer his medication caused him to endure physical
pain, as well as fear and anxiety. (Abernathy Aff. ¶ 7).
Anderson, however, contends that Abernathy testified at his
deposition that he did not suffer emotional distress, mood
swings, loss of sleep, or loss of appetite. Abernathy
disputes that characterization of his testimony.
dispute appears to arise out of ambiguities in
Abernathy's testimony as to whether the disputed
statements concern what Abernathy experienced in 2013, or
what he was experiencing at the time of his deposition in
2018. For example, he was asked and answered as follows:
Q: In that second interaction with Krystal [Anderson] on
that day[, April 3, 2013], did [Anderson] cause you to
A: No, I didn't have no fear from her.
Q: Did [Anderson] cause you to experience anxiety?
A: No. . . .
Q: Do you feel that you had emotional distress
because of Krystal Anderson's actions?
Q: Do you feel that you have stress because of
Q: Do you feel that you have mood swings because of