United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION
Rosenthal Chief United States District Judge
state inmate Loyd Landon Sorrow alleges that the conditions
of his confinement in the Texas Department of Criminal
Justice, Correctional Institutions Division
("TDCJ") violate his civil rights under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Sorrow
represents himself and is proceeding without prepaying the
filing fees. He sues four defendants: TDCJ Executive Director
Brian Collier; the University of Texas Medical Branch at
Galveston ("UTMB"); Erin Alison Jones, M.D.; and
Stephanie Abron, M.D., both at UTMB. Two of the defendants,
UTMB and Dr. Jones, have jointly moved to dismiss the
complaint against them under Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Docket Entry No. 54).
Sorrow has filed a response. (Docket Entry No. 60). Based on
the pleadings, the motion and response, the record, and the
applicable law, the court grants the defendants'
motion. The reasons are explained below.
alleges that all of the defendants have denied him adequate
medical care and that Dr. Jones retaliated against him for
various reasons. Sorrow's allegations against UTMB and
Dr. Jones, viewed in the light most favorable to him, are
summarized below based on the facts Sorrow has pleaded in the
complaint, his two responses to the court's order for a
more definite statement, (Docket Entry Nos. 19, 21), and a
chronology that he attached to his response to the motion to
dismiss, (Docket Entry No. 60).
primary medical complaint is his knee pain. Sorrow injured
his knee while serving in the military in 1977. He alleges
that during his incarceration in TDCJ, he at times has been
denied a classification as "medically unassigned"
that would exempt him from prison work requirements. Sorrow
also argues that he has been deprived of knee braces that he
paid for with his veterans' benefits, but this argument
does not address the claims against Dr. Jones and UTMB and is
not discussed in this memorandum and opinion.
also alleges that he has received inadequate care for a neck
injury that he suffered during his incarceration in 2010 or
2011. He alleges that he was denied chiropractic care,
traction, surgery, steroid injections, adequate medication,
and ultra-sonic sound therapy for his neck. (More Definite
Statement, Docket Entry No. 19, at 12 & 20). However, he
states that he was treated at UTMB's spine clinic five or
six times and was given pain medications, physical therapy, a
neck brace, traction, and electro-convulsive shock therapy.
(Chronology, Docket Entry No. 60, at 5-6; Complaint, Docket
Entry No. 1, at ¶¶ 18-20). He further states that
UTMB doctors told him that no surgery was available for his
neck condition. (More Definite Statement, Docket Entry No.
19, at 23). Sorrow also alleges that he received inadequate
care for Hepatitis C, which he was diagnosed as having in
2002. He alleges that the defendants denied him a cure for
the disease and requests "Zeno Type One" treatment.
(Id. at 1 & 20).
Jones worked for UTMB as the Medical Director at the C.T.
Terrell Unit, where Sorrow was confined when he filed this
suit. Sorrow obtained Dr. Jones's profile
from the Texas medical board in August 2015 and noted that
she was listed as practicing at TDCJ's Stevenson Unit.
Sorrow apparently concluded, based on this profile, that Dr.
Jones was practicing medicine without a license at the C.T.
Terrell Unit. (See More Definite Statement, Docket
Entry No. 19, at 4 (Dr. Jones "was not licensed to
practice medicine in Brazoria County or C.T. Terrell
Unit/Ramsey 3 Unit . . . according to the 'Patient
Profile, ' sent to me by the Texas Medical Board")).
Sorrow told other inmates that Dr. Jones was not properly
licensed. (Id.) On August 17, 2015, Sorrow had a
"lay in" for a medical appointment with Dr. Jones.
Sorrow appears to allege that this appointment was
unnecessary and that Dr. Jones arranged it to retaliate
against him for telling other inmates that she was not
properly licensed. (Complaint, Docket Entry No. 1, at ¶
23). Sorrow also alleges that Dr. Jones retaliated against
him because she is biased against sex
October 16, 2015, Dr. Jones gave Sorrow a 60-day pass to be
classified as medically unassigned and exempted from work
duties. Sorrow states that in 2009, another doctor examined
him and determined that he should be medically unassigned on
an indefinite basis. (More Definite Statement, Docket Entry
No. 21, at 28). Sorrow alleges that Dr. Jones improperly
ended his indefinite exemption from work without first
conducting a physical examination, relying instead on medical
test results. Sorrow alleges that:
[a]bout Oct. 16, 2015 [Dr. Jones] . . . "Medical
Director, " interviewed me and misinterpreted x-ray, and
M.R.I, results, U.T.M.B. recommendations, and past medical
history information on her computer "(her work
tool)" and . . . with deliberate indifference, and
reckless disregard to serious and substantial risks of injury
or re-injury did deliberately change my indefinite] medical
work assignment to a 60 day expiration date, being a well
educated, and highly intelligent human species, knowing that
I would sooner or later be subjected to work, which would
cause pain and possible re-injury.
Docket Entry No. 1, at ¶ 3). Sorrow also alleges that
Dr. Jones had him moved out of the "boot camp" at
the C.T. Terrell Unit, which he identifies as
"cleaner" and "less restrictive" than
other parts of the prison. (More Definite Statement, Docket
Entry No. 19, at 4). Sorrow does not identify the date of the
transfer or the location where he was transferred. He may be
referring to his July 2016 transfer to the Jester III Unit
for treatment of his neck injury. (Chronology, Docket Entry
No. 60, at 5). In October 2015, Sorrow filed a Step 1
Grievance against Dr. Jones for taking away his indefinite
exemption from work. He also filed complaints against her
with the Texas Medical Board and Ethics Commission.
(Complaint, Docket Entry No. 1, at ¶ 23; Chronology,
Docket Entry No. 60, at 2-3).
in 2015, Sorrow was treated by Dr. Kubena Owusu. Sorrow
states that Dr. Owusu was sympathetic to his complaints but
could not override Dr. Jones's termination of
Sorrow's indefinite work exemption. After the 60-day
exemption expired, Dr. Owusu ordered additional short-term
exemptions. (Chronology, Docket Entry. No. 60, at 2-3).
Sorrow's exempt status lapsed briefly on March 9, 2016,
and he was assigned to kitchen duties. Sorrow states that he
did not work at that time "because [he] still had not
been placed on a shift." (Id. at 3). On March
23, 2016, Dr. Owusu renewed Sorrow's restrictions for 90
March 2016, Sorrow filed a Step 1 Grievance over the alleged
lack of medical attention for his neck and for his Hepatitis
C, as well as Dr. Jones's refusal to issue an indefinite
medical exemption from work assignments. (Docket Entry No. 1
-1, at 3). In May, after his grievance was denied, Sorrow
filed a Step 2 Grievance, which also was denied. (Docket
Entry No. 1-1, at 1).
18, 2016, Sorrow's medical work exemption lapsed again.
He filed a Step 1 Grievance about his medical status for
work. (Docket Entry No. 21-1, at 7). In response to the
grievance, TDCJ advised Sorrow in August that he had been
"scheduled numerous times [for medical appointments]
between May and June" but had "left without being
seen and signed a refusal." TDCJ advised him to keep
medical appointments in the future. (Id. at 8).
Sorrow was assigned to a kitchen shift wiping tables. He
worked there on June 27 and 28. On June 28, 2016, while he
was working on a wet floor without his knee braces,
Sorrow's left knee hyperextended. (Chronology, Docket
Entry No. 60, at 4). Sorrow was reassigned to
"scullery" duties in the kitchen, where he could
work while holding onto a counter. (Id.).
3 0 or July 1, 2016, Dr. Owusu prescribed pain medication and
renewed the medical restrictions, exempting Sorrow from work
assignments for 90 days. (Id.; Complaint, Docket
Entry No. 1, at ¶¶ 15 & 17). Sorrow does not
allege that he worked any shifts other than on June 27 and
28. It appears from his pleadings that he was granted a
series of temporary exemptions until November 30, 2016, when
his indefinite exemption was reinstated. (Chronology, Docket
Entry No. 60, at 5-6; More Definite Statement, Docket Entry
No. 21, at 28).
filed this suit on August 12, 2016. He asserts claims under
the Eighth Amendment and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
He seeks a declaratory judgment, a refund of disability
payments, an injunction ordering adequate medical care, and
monetary damages for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and
worry. UTMB and Dr. Jones have moved to dismiss the claims
against them under Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure, arguing that the court lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction and that Sorrow has failed to
state a claim on which relief may be granted.