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Mintun v. Corizon Medical Services

United States District Court, D. Idaho

February 22, 2018

DENNIS MINTUN, Plaintiff,
v.
CORIZON MEDICAL SERVICES; P.A. KAREN BARRETT; N.P. JANE SEYS; and RONA SIEGERT, [1]Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          David C. Nye U.S. District Court Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Rona Siegert's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 39) and Defendants Corizon Medical Services, P.A. Karen Barrett, and N.P. Jane Seys (collectively “Corizon Defendants”) Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 40). Also pending is Plaintiff Dennis Mintun's Renewed Motion for Appointment of Counsel. Dkt. 43.

         The Motions are fully briefed and ripe for the Court's review. Having fully reviewed the record herein, the Court finds the parties have adequately presented the facts and legal arguments in the briefs and record. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the Court decides the Motions without oral argument. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS both Summary Judgment Motions and DENIES Mintun's Motion for Appointment of Counsel.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff Dennis Mintun is an inmate incarcerated by the Idaho Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) at the Idaho State Correctional Institution (“ISCI”) in Kuna, Idaho.

         Corizon Medical Services is a private corporation under contract to provide medical and mental health care to inmates at IDOC facilities.

         Karen Barrett and Jane Seys are mental health care providers employed by Corizon. Barrett is a Physician Assistant and Seys is a Registered Nurse. Dkt 40-2.

         Rona Siegert is IDOC's Health Services Director at ISCI and oversees Corizon's provision of medical services to prisoners at IDOC facilities. Dkt. 39-5.

         On February 28, 2011, Mintun visited P.A. Barrett and complained about “becoming forgetful” and “being uncomfortable around people he does not know, ” while also reporting that he was “happy and fine” around people he does know. Dkt 40-2. According to Mintun, these feelings had only surfaced within the previous two weeks. Id. Barrett undertook an evaluation of Mintun and noted that he had previously reported stress, anxiety, fear of other inmates, difficulties sleeping, and concerns that he might have PTSD. Id. Mintun was participating in counseling with IDOC clinicians and IDOC employees who are Licensed Professional Counselors that assist inmates in developing coping strategies for dealing with the stresses of prison. Id. Mintun had also been prescribed anti-depressants, but for some reason had stopped taking them. Id.

         Barrett also noted that Mintun had previously made complaints regarding his unit placement at ISCI, and that he reported that his mental health symptoms had improved significantly after being moved to a unit that he preferred. Id. Upon review of his file, Barrett directed Mintun to see a medical health care provider to rule out a physiological basis for his memory loss, to continue seeing clinicians for counselling, and to return in three months. Id. Mintun continued to receive counseling as directed. Id.

         On March 9, 2011, in one of his counseling sessions, Mintun expressed, apparently for the first time, a concern that he thought he might be “mildly autistic.” Id. In an attempt to alleviate Mintun's concerns, the clinician gave Mintun a pamphlet on Asperger's Syndrome. Id. Mintun later told a counselor that he was “born with Asperger's Syndrome, ” and claimed that his mother had confirmed as much in a telephone conversation. Id.

         Mintun next saw Barrett on November 19, 2011, because he had been “reading up on” Asperger's Syndrome and wanted Barrett to diagnose him. Id. After evaluating Mintun and his symptoms, Barrett concluded that he did not meet the diagnostic criteria for Asperger's Syndrome and that his symptoms were entirely consistent with the stress and anxiety associated with the correctional context. Id. In particular, Barrett noted that Plaintiff was pleasant, had a normal affect, made good eye contact, and did not report other symptoms associated with Asperger's Syndrome. Id. She also noted that clinicians regularly reported Plaintiff as being pleasant and having a normal affect. Id.

         Finally, Barrett determined that there was no need for an independent evaluation of Mintun and that the treatment he was receiving, including counselling, was appropriate in light of Plaintiff's refusal to continue taking medications. Id.

         In subsequent visits with clinicians, Mintun stated that he was “doing well” and “ha[d] no concerns, ” but continued to state that he wanted to be tested for Asperger's Syndrome. Id. He also continued to complain about his placement in the correctional institution. Id.

         On February 13, 2012, Mintun filed the first of three grievances requesting that Siegert review Barrett's determination that an outside medical evaluation was unnecessary. Upon review, Siegert deferred to Barrett's professional opinion and recommended that Mintun continue working with clinicians.

         On August 27, 2012, Mintun filed a second grievance again requesting that an outside psychologist examine him to verify whether he had Asperger's Syndrome. Siegert determined that she had already addressed this issue in Mintun's previous appeal and noted that absent new information her position would not change.

         Mintun had his first visit with N.P. Seys on August 7, 2014, after complaining that he was “stressed, tense, and irritable.” Id. Mintun expressed to Seys his idea that he might have Asperger's Syndrome. Id. Like Barrett, upon review, Seys determined that Plaintiff did not meet the diagnostic criteria for Asperger's Syndrome, and that an independent evaluation was unnecessary. Id. Seys did not observe any signs or symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome or Autism, and Mintun did not report any such symptoms. Id.

         Seys determined that Mintun's symptoms were consistent with the stresses of the correctional context, and offered to prescribe medications. Id. Mintun refused. Id. In light of that refusal, Seys urged him to continue seeing clinicians for counseling, which Mintun did. Id.

         On September 2, 2014, Mintun filed his third grievance with Siegert again requesting that “proper testing” be performed to verify his Asperger's Syndrome. Siegert again reviewed Mintun's file, and again deferred to medical professionals who determined that Mintun did not meet the criteria for Asperger's Syndrome or Autism. Siegert encouraged Mintun to continue working with professionals to reduce the stresses of prison life, and dismissed the appeal.

         Mintun's second and last visit with Seys occurred on April 21, 2016, when he asked her to address an error he had noticed on his medical chart. Id. A note on the chart incorrectly stated that Mintun had a history of poly-substance abuse. Id. After resolving that issue, Mintun asked some follow-up questions about high-functioning Autism, which Seys answered. Id. During the visit Seys did not observe any signs or symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome or Autism. Id. Seys maintained that Mintun did not meet the diagnostic criteria for Asperger's Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorder and that an independent evaluation of Plaintiff was unnecessary. Seys encouraged Mintun to continue seeing clinicians for counseling. Id.

         B. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff filed a pro se Complaint on August 16, 2016, asserting a wide variety of claims against twenty-seven defendants. Dkt. 2. In an Initial Review Order dated November 29, 2016, Judge Winmill, then presiding over this case, dismissed many of those claims. Dkt. 9.

         As against the Corizon Defendants, Judge Winmill determined that certain mental health treatment claims could proceed past the pleading stage, including claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations of the Eighth Amendment through deliberate indifference to a serious medical need and state law claims for medical malpractice. Id. Judge Winmill allowed the state law claims to proceed to the extent Mintun had timely complied with the Idaho Tort Claims Act and pre-litigation screening requirements. Id.

         As against Defendant Siegert, Judge Winmill allowed Mintun to proceed on his Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on the allegation that Siegert was aware of a need for further testing regarding Mintun's alleged Asperger's Syndrome and disregarded that need, as well as Mintun's state law claims of medical malpractice and negligence.[2] Id. As part of that Decision, Judge Winmill also determined that Mintun was not entitled to an attorney. Dkt. 9, 37-38. This case was then transferred to the undersigned as part of a general reassignment of cases. Dkt. 26.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is proper “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). This Court's role at summary judgment is not “to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” Zetwick v. Cty. of Yolo, 850 F.3d 436, 441 (9th Cir. 2017) (citation omitted). In ...


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