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Myles v. Gupta

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

April 22, 2016

SAMUEL MYLES, Plaintiff,
v.
RAVI GUPTA and UNITED STATES, Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

BARBARA B. CRABB District Judge.

Plaintiff Samuel Myles, a prisoner incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan, Michigan, has filed this pro se lawsuit against defendants Ravi Gupta and the United States. Plaintiff alleges that while he was confined at the Federal Correctional Institution in Oxford, Wisconsin, defendant Gupta violated his Eighth Amendment rights and the Federal Tort Claims Act by prescribing a combination of blood pressure drugs that caused plaintiff to faint and break his ankle. Two motions are pending: plaintiff’s motion for the appointment of counsel and defendants’ motion for summary judgment.

I am granting defendants’ motion for summary judgment and denying plaintiff’s motion for the appointment of counsel. Defendants have set forth undisputed evidence establishing that neither Dr. Gupta nor any federal agent breached the applicable standard of care by prescribing the combination of drugs plaintiff received. Moreover, it is clear that defendant Gupta’s efforts to monitor plaintiff’s blood pressure fell within the governing standard of care as well. Plaintiff’s request for counsel must be denied because he is not proceeding in this case in forma pauperis and therefore is not entitled to assistance with the recruitment of counsel under the standard set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1). The benefits associated with § 1915(e)(1) cannot be extended to litigants such as plaintiff who have a history of filing lawsuits that are either frivolous or that fail to state a claim.

From the parties’ summary judgment materials and the record, I find that the following facts are material and not subject to genuine dispute.

ALLEGATIONS OF FACT

While plaintiff was incarcerated at FCI-Oxford in Oxford, Wisconsin, plaintiff’s primary care provider was defendant Dr. Ravi Gupta. Defendant Gupta first saw plaintiff on November 10, 2011 at FCI-Oxford’s health services unit. The primary condition for which Gupta was treating plaintiff on that date was hypertension, a problem that had been diagnosed at least ten years prior to plaintiff’s incarceration at FCI-Oxford. At the time of Gupta’s initial examination of plaintiff on November 10, 2011, plaintiff was taking Aspirin and two hypertension drugs-Amlodipine and Triamterene-to treat his high blood pressure. On November 10, 2011, plaintiff’s blood pressure was within normal limits, so Gupta decided to continue plaintiff on those same drugs.

Plaintiff was examined by the health services unit on at least seven occasions between January 12, 2012 and June 8, 2012. Plaintiff’s blood pressure varied over this six month period. Although it was generally within the normal range, it exceeded normal limits on May 23, 2012 and June 8, 2012. Then on June 15, 2012, Judith Spahn, an advanced nurse practitioner, took plaintiff’s blood pressure and noticed that it was 143/93, which was the highest it had been measured. Spahn decided that additional treatment was warranted to bring plaintiff’s blood pressure within a normal range. Spahn decided to prescribe plaintiff Lisinopril, which is an ACE inhibitor hypertension drug. This drug would be taken in addition to the Amlodipine and Triamterene plaintiff was already taking. Amlodipine, Triamterene and Lisinopril are three hypertension drugs that can be, and frequently are, prescribed together to treat hypertension. Such a regimen is consistent with the national guidelines for treating hypertension. Moreover, there are no contraindications between Amlodipine, Triamterene and Lisinopril. Plaintiff received a 30-day supply of Lisinopril on June 18, 2012.

Plaintiff went to the blood pressure clinic on June 20, 2012 and his blood pressure was 132/88, which was within normal limits as established by national guidelines for the treatment of hypertension. He saw defendant Gupta the following week. Plaintiff reported no problems and informed Gupta that he had been taking his medications as ordered. On the day plaintiff saw Gupta, his blood pressure was 122/84, which was the lowest it had been since plaintiff first started seeing Gupta. Gupta renewed plaintiff’s Amlodipine, Triamterene, Lisinopril and Aspirin prescriptions. Plaintiff requested and picked up his 30-day refills of these prescriptions on July 11, August 9 and September 7, 2012.

On October 4, 2012, a unit officer discovered that plaintiff had saved a large number of his hypertension pills in his locker. The officer brought the issue to the health services unit’s attention. Brad Malcolm, a health services nurse, called plaintiff to the health services unit. Plaintiff told Malcolm that he was taking the medications as they were prescribed, but that he received new prescription orders and refills before finishing old supplies of pills. However, plaintiff’s medication dispensing history did not support plaintiff’s explanation.

Malcolm discussed the issue with defendant Gupta and Health Services Administrator Cesar Lopez. The health services staff was unable to determine what medications plaintiff had taken and when he had taken them. Malcolm, Gupta and Lopez decided that plaintiff would be placed on pill line for each medication to ensure his compliance. He would then be reevaluated after 30 days. Gupta issued the medication orders on October 4, 2012 and Malcolm entered them into the system. The orders were for the same medications in the same dosages that plaintiff had received previously; the only difference was that they would be distributed to plaintiff daily on the pill line to ensure adherence.

The following day, October 5, 2012, health services staff dispensed to plaintiff Amlodipine, Triamterene, Lisinopril and Aspirin, as prescribed by Gupta. Plaintiff ingested the medications on the pill line. Plaintiff received the same prescriptions in the same doses again on October 6, October 7 and October 8, 2012. At no point between when he was first administered his prescriptions on the pill line on October 5 and when he received them on October 8, did plaintiff complain about his medications or indicate that he was experiencing any side effects.

After receiving his prescriptions on October 8 at 7:30 a.m., plaintiff went back to his cell and slept. However, when he woke, he asked his unit officer to call for medical assistance because he felt woozy. Plaintiff then turned and fell. Nurse Malcolm arrived at plaintiff’s cell and noted that plaintiff was alert, but confused about what had happened. Malcolm brought plaintiff to the health services unit to monitor his vital signs. He was given oxygen and a saline IV. While in the health services unit, plaintiff began to complain of pain in his left ankle. Malcolm wrapped plaintiff’s ankle with an ace bandage and gave plaintiff crutches; he instructed plaintiff not to place any weight on his ankle until the symptoms resolved. After plaintiff’s fall, Gupta discontinued plaintiff’s Lisinopril and Triamterene prescriptions.

OPINION

A. Request for Assistance in ...


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