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Bloss v. Twin Falls County

United States District Court, D. Idaho

August 24, 2017



          B. Lynn Winmill Chief Judge.


         Plaintiff Jeffrey Andrew Bloss, an Idaho state prisoner, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state tort law, alleging deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. Plaintiff is proceeding pro se. Currently pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 37) and Motion to Seal (Dkt. 38). For the reasons explained below, the Court will grant both Motions in full.


         1. Factual Background

         A. Plaintiff's Injury and Medical Treatment

         While in the custody of Twin Falls County Adult Detention Facility (“County Jail”) on October 3, 2013, Plaintiff injured his left knee in an altercation with another detainee. Kane Aff., Ex. B at 39-43, Dkt. 39-4. On the same day, immediately following the altercation, Plaintiff was placed in a wheelchair and taken to St. Luke's Quick Care. Id. At St. Luke's, the clinic personnel took x-rays of his left knee and examined him. The clinic noted swelling, but no “acute injuries.” Id. The clinic prescribed ibuprofen and an icing regimen. The clinic also advised if there was no improvement in two to three weeks to schedule a follow up visit for a possible MRI. Kane Aff, Ex. A at 1522, Dkt. 39-4. Following the clinic visit, the Plaintiff returned to the County Jail and healthcare personnel at the jail followed the medical directions provided. See Ippolito Aff.¶ 3-4, Dkt. 39-2; Probasco Aff. ¶ 5, Dkt. 37-3.

         On October 7, 2013, Plaintiff complained of a “fluttering feeling” in his ankle and was transported to St. Luke's Magic Valley Regional Medical Center Emergency Department that same day. Hughes Aff, Ex. A at 290-92, Dkts. 37-5, 39. Plaintiff was diagnosed with a hamstring strain. Id. He was given a hamstring stretch pamphlet along with direction to continue taking ibuprofen. Id. In addition, the clinic prescribed him a muscle relaxer and to take it every six hours. Id.

         On October 10, Plaintiff filed three separate grievances through services available at the County Jail, [1] all alleging intense pain and requesting pain medication, an MRI, and surgery. Hughes Aff., Ex. A at 285, 288-89, Dkt. 39. The following day, Corle, a jail nurse, examined Plaintiff Under the supervision of Dr. Ippolito, she informed Plaintiff that a nerve conduction study may be necessary, but would not be effective until three to four weeks after the injury occurred. In addition, Corle advised Plaintiff not to limit his activity. Hughes Aff., Ex. A at 284, 286-87, Dkt. 39.

         The next day, October 12, Plaintiff submitted another grievance demanding an MRI and a doctor's written recommendation advising him to walk on his injury. Hughes Aff., Ex. A at 283, Dkt. 39. On October 15, Plaintiff was seen by jail nurse, Lou Probasco. At that appointment, Probasco told Plaintiff that an orthopedic appointment would be scheduled. Hughes Aff., Ex. A at 282, Dkt. 39 On October 17, Plaintiff filed two more grievances stating that his leg was not working, and again, requested pain medication, an MRI, and surgery. Hughes Aff., Ex. A at 278-79, Dkt. 39. Plaintiff saw Probasco the next day, at which time Probasco told Plaintiff that he was to continue ibuprofen and that he would arrange a nerve conduction study and neurology consult. Id. at 277.

         Ippolito evaluated Plaintiff on October 25, prescribed him Motrin, and planned to re-evaluate him the following week. In addition, Ippolito planned to schedule a nerve conduction survey if there was no improvement. Hughes Aff., Ex. A at 263-64. At Plaintiff's October 31 appointment, Ippolito scheduled the nerve conduction survey for November 19. Id. at 262. Ippolito re-evaluated Plaintiff on November 1 and planned to check in with him following his nerve conduction survey. Id. at 252.

         Plaintiff filed two more grievances on November 8 and 10 complaining about leg and foot pain. He said that he needed to see a specialist and needed quicker care. Hughes Aff., Ex. A at 256-57. In response, Probasco evaluated Plaintiff on November 12 and prescribed ibuprofen until Plaintiff's November 19 appointment. Id. at 254.

         Following the Plaintiff's nerve conduction survey, Plaintiff saw Ippolito who, after discussing the results with Dr. Steffens, discussed the possible avulsion of the peroneal nerve. Ippolito scheduled an MRI for December 3 and a neurology consult on December 10, 2014. Hughes Aff., Ex. A at 205, 237, 248.

         On November 26, 2013, the day before Plaintiff was transferred to the Idaho State Correctional Institution, Probasco provided a Medical Request for Payment Authorization form requesting medical visits for Plaintiff's MRI and follow up with a neurologist. In addition, it requested Plaintiff be provided with ibuprofen. Hughes Aff., Ex. A at 227. On December 6, Ippolito noted that Probasco had informed the Correctional Institution of Plaintiff's scheduled MRI and neurologist consult through the Medical Request for Payment Authorization form. However, Ippolito indicates that the Correctional Institution “elected to take him to the Correctional Institute and follow up in their setting and not have it done [at the County Jail].” Id. at 208. It is unclear whether the Correctional Institution kept or rescheduled his appointments.

         On November 29, 2013, Dr. Friedman performed an independent medical examination of Plaintiff. After reviewing and discussing Plaintiff's medical records, history, and symptoms, Friedman concluded that Twin Falls County had provided him with appropriate medical care and treatment during his detention. Friedman Aff. ¶ 4, Dkt. 39-1. Friedman's report indicates that Plaintiff suffers from permanent nerve damage that limits the movement in his lower leg and left foot. Friedman Aff. at 9, Dkt. 39-1. As a result of this nerve damage, Plaintiff must now use an Ankle-Foot Orthosis to improve gait function and stability. Id. Friedman concluded that Plaintiff will “always have a foot drop, with numbness” as a result of his October 3 knee injury. Id. at 10. However, Friedman's report also indicated that he believed that the nerve damage may have resulted, in part, from a previous car accident unrelated to the October 3 incident. Id. at 9.

         B. Twin Falls County Jail Medical Structure

         The County hires independent Idaho licensed medical doctors and nurses to provide county inmates healthcare services. These independent contractors are required to comply with Idaho law, the Rules of Idaho State Board of Medicine, and the Board of Nursing, which set up licensing criteria and handle any disciplinary matters. Hughes Aff. ¶ 5. Twin Falls does not have its own training program for medical personnel. Probasco Aff. ¶ 3.

         In addition, the jail deputies are not tasked with providing any healthcare to inmates. A jail deputy receives medical requests and grievances, which are passed on to medical personnel. See Hughes Aff. ¶ 6; Carter Aff., Ex. A. at 999.

         The Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office Custodial Manual describes the medical procedures for the County Jail. Licensed nurses handle all of the medically proscribed activity mentioned in the manual. Carter Aff., Ex. A. The manual details how staff should handle grievances and ...

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