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Daboni v. Coleman

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division

April 2, 2018

Jacques Daboni, Plaintiff
v.
Warden John Coleman, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Jeffrey J. Helmick United States District Judge

         I. Introduction

         Jacques Daboni is an inmate at the Toledo Correctional Institution. Daboni contends he has severe low back pain and is unable to walk. He alleges having had a wheelchair upon his arrival at TOCI. The wheelchair was taken away from him as the Defendants claim he is feigning an inability to walk. He alleges being forced to scoot around the prison without a wheelchair and that the Defendants are deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs.

         Daboni instituted suit against Warden John Coleman, Kathleen Meehan-de la Cruz, M.D., Hannah Kroggel, Kim Henderson, Captain Mark Green, Captain Scott Mathias, Kelly Robertson, Lt. Melissa Cowell, Sgt. Ronnie Morton, Major Keith Fullenkamp, Lt. Michael Warren, and Bobbi David. The nature of his complaint is an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging an Eighth Amendment violation for deliberate indifference to his medical condition and necessary care.

         In addition to his complaint, the pro se Plaintiff also moved for emergency injunctive relief (Doc. No. 3) which I construed as a motion for a temporary restraining order. After having the benefit of a response from the Defendant on this issue, I denied Plaintiff's motion (Doc. No. 14), set this matter on an administrative track, and set a briefing schedule for dispositive motions (Doc. No. 20).

         On June 27, 2017, the Defendants filed their Notice of Compliance per my order requiring disclosure of names, addresses of witnesses, documents, and other evidence having a significant bearing on the claims and defenses. Their five page notice included the names and addresses of twenty-six individuals likely to have discoverable information. (Doc. No. 27). Additionally, the notice provided eight categories of documents along these same lines. (Id.)

         Pending before me are multiple motions filed by parties, responses, and replies thereto. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. For the reasons stated below, the Defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted. As that motion is dispositive of the case, the remaining motions are denied as moot.

         II. Factual Background

         A. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Debone is an inmate at TOCI. His complaint alleges problems began on December 13, 2016, when he as assessed by Dr. Kathleen Meehan-de la Cruz, M.D. for severe back pain. At that appointment, Daboni alleges the doctor “made light of [his] situation saying everyone has back pains.” (Doc. No. 1, p. 6). Daboni saw Dr. Meehan-de la Cruz again right before the end of December and continued to complain about severe back pains which he claims precluded him from walking. The doctor told him to “buy pills & muscle rub out of the store if [you're] in pain.” (Id. at p. 7). The Plaintiff was not satisfied with Meehan-de la Cruz's response. The doctor then decided to admit Daboni into the infirmary for assessment.

         Upon Daboni's admission to the infirmary, his wheelchair was taken from him and he was given a walker. He alleges attempting to “use the walker in vain, I would fall when I tried lifting the walker off the ground.” (Id.) Despite his multiple tries, Plaintiff “was told by the nurses, that the Dr. instructed to keep trying despite my numerous falls. I was sore & bruised all over but I would ask for pain pills & continue trying.” (Id.)

         Daboni alleges he learned from one of the nurses of the “Dr.'s Orders not to assess [Plaintiff] if [he] didn't walk out [out] of the cell.” (Id. at p. 8). During the Plaintiff's time in the infirmary, he was not assessed per Dr. Meehan-de la Cruz's orders but provided pain medication and encouraged to exercise by various staff members. (Id.)

         On January 3, 2017, Plaintiff was advised the doctor wanted to see him but he “had to walk out to see her.” (Id. at p. 9). On January 5, 2017, Dr. Meehan-de la Cruz went to see Daboni in the infirmary, told him he was “cleared medically” as she could not find anything wrong with him. (Id. at p. 10). Plaintiff again told the doctor about “the severity of [his] back pain that [wa]s preventing [him] from walking. She told [him] to buy pills off the store & muscle rub & that [he] was cleared.” (Id.)

         Daboni was returned to the regular cell block in his wheelchair then physically removed from the wheelchair and placed on the floor. Plaintiff continued to protest his inability to stand or walk to numerous TOCI employees to no avail. He alleges that Hannah Kroggel, TOCI Healthcare Administrator, repeatedly “instructed everyone to leave [Plaintiff] on the floor.” (Id. at p. 11). Because of his inability to walk, Daboni's fellow inmates got him off the floor and onto his bed. When it came time for meals, Plaintiff states he started to “scoot there, inmates seen me struggling & 6 of them picked me off the ground & carried me to chow.” (Id. at p. 12).

         As a result of the Plaintiff's scooting himself from location to location, he “was written up by [Lieutenant] Warren & taken to the hole, dragged out of my wheelchair & sat on the ground in my cell.” (Id.) Daboni was found guilty of this infraction and received “15 days time served & refer[red] to H.C.A. for Secondary anatomical. I applaud that decision because this is not a disciplinary issue, this is a medical issue.” (Id.) Thereafter, Daboni alleges he was allowed to leave “the hole” but had to walk out. When the Plaintiff was unable to walk out on his own, he alleges he was given another 15 days in the hole. (Id.)

         Daboni contends he incurred additional infractions because of his inability to walk. He continued to make unsuccessful requests for a chair to assist him in showering and other types of relief. (Id. at pp. 13-14). He characterizes the events described in his complaint as “cruel, & evil, & barbaric as they may seem are real & true.” (Id.)

         B. Defendants' Statement of Facts

         Prior to being transferred to TOCI, Daboni was confined to the Meigs County Jail during the pendency of his trial. According to Scott Trussell, a Major in the Meigs County Sheriff's Office, Daboni was confined to jail awaiting trial when he suffered an injury. (Doc. No. 34-3). A video recording of the incident was submitted as an exhibit in support of the Defendant's motion. Major Trussell characterized the event as follows:

The video being authenticated depicts Jacques Daboni lying on a mobile plastic bunk with blankets on it designed for inmates to sleep on. The bunk was directly on the ground rather than any other surface. After an Officer enters Daboni's cell, Daboni lifts his head up and attempts to stand. After rising approximately four (4) inches to one (1) foot, Daboni slips back onto the bunk. He decides not to stand up because of the fall. Before the incident depicted in this video, Daboni was fully capable of walking on his own initiative unimpeded and without the assistance of any device.

(Id. at ¶ 5).

         According to Dr. Meehan-de la Cruz, who is the Chief Medical Officer at TOCI, she reviewed the Plaintiff's prior medical records and describes his relevant history prior to his transfer to TOCI:

I am familiar with Inmate Jacques Daboni (#A725394) (“Daboni”). He is a current inmate at TOCI. Daboni has been incarcerated at TOCI since June 17, 2016. Prior to his incarceration at TOCI, Daboni's medical records show that he was incarcerated at the Corrections Reception Center (“CRC”).
It is my opinion, based on a reasonable degree of medical certainty, after examining Daboni numerous times, that he has the ability to walk on his own accord, without the assistance of any device, and that he is feigning the inability to walk.
Daboni came to TOCI (from CRC) with a wheelchair. A review of Daboni's medical records shows that when the medical staff at CRC was contemplating taking Daboni's wheelchair, he claimed he could not walk. He was housed in that institution's infirmary where he did not walk; therefore he was permitted the wheelchair.
Pursuant to the records, prior to this incident at CRC, Daboni was able to get up on an exam table under his own power, without assistance, and could move from a lying position to a sitting position, then from a sitting position to a standing position, without issue.

(Doc. No. 34-1 at ¶¶ 3-5(a)).

         Following his fall, the medical records show Daboni received a CT scan on October 13, 2015, which showed no fractures and states a “normal” impression. (Doc. No. 34-1 at p. 6). Two and a half months later, Daboni underwent an MRI with the findings appearing to be normal. (Doc. No. 34-1 at p. 7). A hand-written notation by the physician on the MRI report, noted, “MRI is essentially normal. There is no reason for him to be in wheelchair. Please check if home health PT will come to jail or if ...


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