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Amos v. Correctional Medical Services

June 30, 2009

DANIEL AMOS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CORRECTIONAL MEDICAL SERVICES, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hillman, District Judge

OPINION

In this action, Plaintiff, Daniel Amos, asserts that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs and discriminated against him in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131, et seq., by failing to diagnose and treat his hepatitis C ("HCV") while he was incarcerated. Before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Correctional Medical Services, Inc. ("CMS"), William Andrade, James J. Neal, M.D., James Ruman, R.N., Rock Welch, and Abu Ashan, M.D. (collectively, "Defendants"). Also before the Court is a Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons expressed below, Defendants' Motion to Strike will be denied, but their Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted.

I. JURISDICTION

Plaintiff has brought his claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131, et seq. Accordingly, this Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

II. BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

After having been incarcerated in Wisconsin and Illinois, Plaintiff was transferred into the custody of the New Jersey Department of Corrections ("NJDOC") in 1995. At the time of his transfer to the NJDOC, Plaintiff denied any history of health problems or IV drug use. Plaintiff was first diagnosed with HCV in January 2002, when testing revealed a high level of the virus in his system.

Following his diagnosis, a number of tests and evaluations were performed in order to determine the best course of action with respect to Plaintiff's illness. In October 2002, a liver biopsy of Plaintiff was performed, which confirmed that he had chronic HCV and stage two fibrosis. Plaintiff's HCV was also evaluated for genotype and determined to be genotype 1a. Additionally, a psychiatric evaluation was performed in order to confirm that Plaintiff's mental health history would not prevent drug therapy treatment. Plaintiff was thereafter sent for a consult with a gastroenterologist. On November 21, 2002, Plaintiff was evaluated by Dr. Kathleen Casey. At that time, Dr. Casey discussed Plaintiff's test results with him and advised him of his treatment options, including initiating drug therapy for his HCV or waiting and conducting another liver biopsy in two years. Plaintiff elected to proceed with drug therapy and requested specific medications. In December 2002, Plaintiff was educated about his HCV and the side-effects of HCV medications.

In January 2003, drug therapy was commenced for Plaintiff's HCV. During the entire course of his treatment, Plaintiff was closely monitored and suffered no serious side-effects or additional liver damage. Plaintiff successfully completed the 48 weeks of drug therapy, achieving a sustained virologic response. In other words, six months after completion of the 48 week drug therapy treatment, laboratory tests failed to detect any HCV in Plaintiff. The likelihood that Plaintiff's HCV will recur is less than one percent. In November 2004, Plaintiff was transferred from the NJDOC to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this matter on April 21, 2006, alleging six separate counts against Defendants and Louis C. Tripoli, M.D. ("Tripoli"). Since that time, the parties have stipulated to the dismissal of Tripoli, as well as to the dismissal of four of the initial six counts with prejudice. Accordingly, all that remains of the Complaint is Count I, which asserts under Section 1983 that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical needs, and Count VI, which asserts that Defendants discriminated against Plaintiff in violation of the ADA. Defendants now move for summary judgment on both counts.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate where the Court is satisfied that "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986); Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).

An issue is "genuine" if it is supported by evidence such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in the nonmoving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is "material" if, under the governing substantive law, a dispute about the fact might affect the outcome of the suit. Id. In considering a motion for summary judgment, a district court may not make credibility determinations or engage in any weighing of the evidence; instead, the non-moving party's evidence "is to be believed and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Marino v. Industrial Crating Co., 358 F.3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).

Initially, the moving party has the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. Once the moving party has met this burden, the nonmoving party must identify, by affidavits or otherwise, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. Thus, to withstand a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must identify specific facts and affirmative evidence that contradict those offered by the moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57. A party opposing summary judgment ...


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