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Taylor v. Collier

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Galveston Division

August 30, 2019

KENNETH TAYLOR, TDCJ # 00828757, Plaintiff,
v.
BRYAN COLLIER, et al. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          GEORGE C. HANKS JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Kenneth Taylor, an inmate in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice– Correctional Institutions Division (“TDCJ”), filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his civil rights. Plaintiff proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis. Because Taylor is a prisoner seeking redress from government officials, the Court is required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) to scrutinize the pleadings. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss the case, in whole or in part, if it determines that the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or “seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). After reviewing Plaintiff’s complaint (Dkt. 1), his motions for emergency relief (Dkt. 10, Dkt. 11), the applicable authorities, the record in Taylor v. Collier (Civil Action No. 3:17-0358), and all matters of record, the Court concludes that Plaintiff’s claims must be DISMISSED for the reasons that follow.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Taylor filed his complaint in this suit on November 19, 2018 against seven Defendants affiliated with TDCJ or the University of Texas Medical Branch (“UTMB”).[1]Taylor alleges that medical and security personnel at TDCJ’s Terrell Unit have refused him medical treatment, denied him access to the pill window, and failed to honor his medical restrictions that require a cell located near the clinic and pill window (Dkt. 1, at 4-5).[2] He claims that medical and security personnel “passed the buck,” each blaming the other while failing to address the issues affecting him (id. at 4-5). Taylor additionally alleges that Defendant Owusu refused to treat him by referring him to Hospital Galveston, and that some Defendants involved in medical care at the Terrell Unit (Matthews, Mbugua, and Nwafor) blocked his access to particular medical providers (id. at 4-5).[3] Finally, he alleges that supervisory officials at TDCJ (Executive Director Collier, Warden Comstock at the Terrell Unit, and Assistant Warden Patrick at the Terrell Unit) retaliated against him and refused him medical treatment (id. at 4).

         In November 2018, at the time Taylor filed his complaint in this lawsuit, he was litigating another civil action before this Court regarding the absence of air conditioning at the Terrell Unit. See Taylor v. Collier, Civil Action No. 3:17-0358 (the “2017 case”).[4] In the 2017 case, Taylor originally brought a claim that extreme temperatures at the Terrell Unit endangered his health because he had a history of strokes and other cardiovascular issues. However, he added new allegations to the 2017 case when he filed several requests for emergency relief in October and November 2018, and his new allegations overlapped substantially with his allegations in this case. As the Court recounted in an order in the 2017 case, Taylor alleged that medical and security personnel at the Terrell Unit had refused to assign him a cell that complied with his medical restrictions, that officials were impeding his access to the pill window, and that officials were effectively denying him his medications:

Plaintiff’s emergency motion claims that he had surgery in August 2018 and has a “new stent in his brain,” and that he was required to take the medication Clopidogel to keep his stent from “getting plugged and causing a stroke” (Dkt. 43, at 4). He presents a partial medical record dated October 11, 2018, which states that Taylor “had a breakthrough seizure” and “NEEDS TO BE AS CLOSE TO PILL WINDOW AS POSSIBLE” to increase compliance with medication regime (Dkt. 42, at 7). Plaintiff also alleges that TDCJ officials refused to comply with the medical provider’s request to house him close to the pill window and, because he could not walk to the pill window, effectively denied him access to his medication (Dkt. 43, at 5).

Dkt. 56 (Civil Action No. 3:17-0358), at 3. Taylor also alleged that officials at the Terrell Unit “passed the buck” and failed to comply with medical instructions regarding his medications and his housing assignment. See Dkt. 45 (Civil Action No. 3:17-0358), at 3.

         Taylor initiated the case at bar on November 19, 2018, while the emergency motions in the 2017 case were pending, making the same allegations as those in the emergency motions. On November 20, 2018, the Court entered an order in the 2017 case instructing the defendants to file an expedited response to Taylor’s emergency complaints. See Dkt. 45 (Civil Action No. 3:17-0358). The defendants complied. See Dkt. 46, Dkt. 47 & Dkt. 48 (Civil Action No. 3:17-0358). In their responses, they represented to the Court that, on November 21, 2018, Taylor’s cell assignment had changed from D-wing, pod 4, where he had been since his return from the hospital on August 30, 2018, to A-wing, pod 4. See Dkt. 56 (Civil Action NO. 3:17-0358), at 4 (citing defendants’ filings). They also explained that both cell assignments had been acceptable under Taylor’s health classification but that the new location was even closer to the clinic. See id.

         On March 26, 2019, after full briefing and consideration, the Court entered an order in the 2017 case denying emergency relief. The Court’s order stated in part as follows:

Plaintiff’s recent filings agree that his move to A-wing on November 21, 2018, resolved nearly all his complaints (Dkt. 49; Dkt. 50, at 4). Plaintiff clearly states that he now is going to the pill window “every night” (Dkt. 52, at 2). Defendants have represented to the Court that Plaintiff now is housed as close as possible to the infirmary, and Plaintiff has not disputed their representation. Plaintiff’s . . . . request for injunctive relief based on his cell assignment and related ability to receive medications is denied as moot.

(Id. at 4) (footnotes omitted). The Court’s opinion also denied emergency relief based on Taylor’s request for a specific medication and his allegations of retaliation (id. at 5-6). In the context of ruling on Taylor’s motion for leave to amend his pleadings, the Court addressed Taylor’s allegations that he had been denied treatment for his medical condition:

Plaintiff . . . alleges that “medical staff has repeatedly refused the plaintiff emergency medical treatment for stroke like symptoms” (Dkt. 31, at 3). As stated above, the record before the Court demonstrates that Plaintiff received emergency medical attention in August 2018, after Plaintiff filed his motion to amend, which included surgery for placement of a stent. Moreover, Plaintiff’s motion to amend states that he has been “seen repeatedly” by clinic personnel and complains only that he had not seen a particular doctor, Kwabena Owusu, M.D, “for two months” (id.).

(Id. at 7). On the same day, the Court granted summary judgment for the defendants on Plaintiff’s claim that the extreme heat at the Terrell Unit violated his Eighth Amendment rights, and entered final judgment. See Dkt. 57 & Dkt. 58 (Civil Action No. 3:17-0358). Taylor filed a notice of appeal, which the Fifth Circuit dismissed on June 13, 2019 for want of prosecution. See Dkt. 64 (Civil Action No. 3:17-0358).

         On June 21, 2019, approximately one week after his appeal in the 2017 case was dismissed, Taylor filed a motion for emergency injunctive relief (Dkt. 10) in the case at bar. Plaintiff’s emergency motion first claims that emergency relief is necessary because his stent placed during his August 2018 surgery needs to be replaced and, while he waits for the replacement stent, he has symptoms whenever he “overheats,” including dizziness, headaches, and seizures “of all kinds” (id. at 3). Second, he alleges that, at some point after the 2017 case was dismissed, he was “move[d] again outside [his] walking limits” (id. at 3-4), although he provides no supporting facts or dates for his allegation. Third, he alleges that emergency relief is warranted because “someone is tampering with [his] medical records” and that “it is [his] belief that someone is deleting some and/or all medical records” (id. at 4), noting that he has filed a complaint with the Texas Medical Board. Fourth, he states that the Terrell Unit had a “major power outage” on June 6, 2019 that lasted “more than 12 hours” with “no power at all,” “no ventilation” in the living areas, and “no access to the respite area” (id.). He takes issue with Defendants’ representations in the 2017 case that respite areas for extreme heat were available, calling the representations “perjury” (id.).

         Plaintiff’s complaint seeks relief of $1 million, in addition to injunctive relief “for the proper medical care, w[h]ich the plaintiff believe[s] he cannot get at [the] Terrell Unit” (Dkt. 1, at 4). He sues Defendants in their official and individual capacities. In his emergency motion, Taylor requests the following relief:

1. to be moved to a different TDCJ unit with “proper medical care” and air conditioning, and back-up ventilation during power outages; or
2. to be moved to a unit meeting the requirements above but “in the Texas Tech University treatment area”; or,
3. an order directing the Terrell Unit to provide “one wing of housing with air conditioning for heat restricted inmates such as Plaintiff.”

(Dkt. 10, at 10). Plaintiff states that an air-conditioned wing is provided at other “medical units such as Jester III” (id.). Plaintiff also filed a supplement to his request for emergency relief, stating that some inmates had been moved to air-conditioned units for the summer but that he had not and that he believed ...


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