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YARBAUGH v. ROACH

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


April 24, 1990

WILLIAM H. YARBAUGH, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID D. ROACH, et. al., Defendants

The opinion of the court was delivered by: PENN

MEMORANDUM ORDER

 JOHN GARRETT PENN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

 Plaintiff a 30 year old black male has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He is currently a prisoner confined at the D.C. Detention Facility Infirmary. Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 65, plaintiff moves the Court to grant a preliminary injunction directing defendants to immediately provide him appropriate medical care commensurate with prevailing community medical standards for a person suffering from multiple sclerosis with his degree of impairment.

 This case was filed on June 6, 1988. On August 8, 1988, this Court referred the case to the D.C. Bar Lawyer Referral in order to obtain assistance in finding counsel to represent the plaintiff. On August 8, 1989, the Court granted Robert C. Hauhart's motion to appear on behalf of plaintiff for the limited purpose of presenting plaintiff's motion seeking independent medical examination. *fn1"

 The Court held a hearing on plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction on February 16, 1990. *fn2" The Court heard testimony from plaintiff *fn3" and Dr. James F. Grim, a neurologist. In addition the Court has received a report from Dr. Grim and Dr. Kenneth Johnson, a neurologist, after their examination of the plaintiff, as well as, reports from Ellen K. DeLuca *fn4" , a nurse, and Linda Samuels, a licensed certified social worker. The defendants have submitted a report from Dr. Rao and an affidavit from Dr. Bradley, as well as, plaintiff's medical records.

 I.

 The Supreme Court has stated that the government has an obligation to provide medical care for those whom it is punishing by incarceration. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102, 97 S. Ct. 285, 290, 50 L. Ed. 2d 251 (1976). *fn5" In the District of Columbia, physicians owe the same standard of care to prisoners as physicians owe to private patients generally. District of Columbia v. Mitchell, 533 A.2d 629 (D.C. App. 1987). Deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes the "unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain" proscribed by the Eighth Amendment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. at 104, 97 S. Ct. at 291 (1976).

 The parties do not dispute that multiple sclerosis is a debilitating disease, that requires continuous maintenance; however, they do dispute the medical services that the plaintiff is receiving. The defendants contend that plaintiff is receiving satisfactory medical treatment. However, upon review of the plaintiff's testimony, the affidavits, reports and the entire record in this case, it is clear to the Court that plaintiff is not receiving adequate medical treatment. Further, it is clear that defendants have been on notice since June, 1988, of plaintiff's condition and have failed to address his needs. The Court concludes that such deliberate indifference to plaintiff's serious medical needs is in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

 The following are the facts that the Court concludes are supported by the record. Plaintiff is within the lawful custody and control of defendants, or their designees, due to his D.C. Superior Court convictions and sentence and has been confined at the D.C. Detention Facility Infirmary since the summer of 1989. Plaintiff suffers from multiple sclerosis. Plaintiff has not been examined by a D.C. Jail Infirmary physician from the time of his confinement to that facility through February 16, 1990. Further, no D.C. Jail, Department of Corrections, or D.C. General Hospital neurologist examined plaintiff from August, 1988 through February 16, 1990. The defendants have not examined the plaintiff in order to establish a appropriate plan to provide adequate medical services. *fn6"

 Plaintiff has not received physical therapy on a regular basis. He has had neither a bath nor shower since August 1989, although he has requested assistance from D.C. Jail Infirmary staff. Plaintiff has difficulty transferring unassisted from his bed to his wheelchair, and vice versa, and has occasionally fallen doing so. He routinely receives no assistance in changing position in bed or transferring from his bed to his wheelchair, and vice versa. The manual bed in plaintiff's room does not raise or lower since on or about early November, 1989. The "callbutton" in plaintiff's room does not work.

 II.

 In order to be entitled to injunctive relief, a plaintiff must demonstrate (1) that he has a strong likelihood of success on the merits, (2) that he will suffer irreparable injury if injunctive relief is denied, (3) that other interested parties will not suffer substantial harm if injunctive relief is granted, and (4) that the public interest favors the granting of injunctive relief or, at least, that the granting of injunctive relief is not adverse to the public interest. See Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Commission v. Holiday Tours, Inc., 182 U.S. App. D.C. 220, 222, 559 F.2d 841, 843 (1977). In addition, "the necessary 'level' or 'degree' of possibility of success will vary according to the court's assessment of the other factors." Id.

 Upon review of the record, the Court concludes that plaintiff has demonstrated a strong likelihood of success on the merits. As noted above, it is clear to the Court that plaintiff is not receiving adequate medical services. Due to the seriousness of the disease, the Court concludes that plaintiff will suffer irreparable injury if the injunction is not granted. The defendants will not suffer irreparable injury, the Court's Order is only intended to enforce the defendants' obligation to provide the plaintiff with appropriate medical care. *fn7" Further, granting the injunction is not adverse to public interest.

 In view of the above, the Court concludes that a preliminary injunction is appropriate.

 It is hereby

 ORDERED that defendants make immediate arrangements to provide plaintiff with suitable medical treatment, including all necessary physical therapy as recommended by plaintiff's medical consultants, it is further

 ORDERED that the medical treatment shall include assurance that plaintiff will receive assistance in bathing, that plaintiff will receive assistance in being transferred from his bed to his wheelchair, and vice versa, and that the "callbutton" in plaintiff's room be fixed, it is further

 ORDERED that defendants submit regular reports to the Court with copies to the plaintiff describing in detail the actions taken leading to timely and full compliance with this Order, it is further

 ORDERED that the defendants' reports are due the first of every month beginning on May 1, 1990, it is further

 ORDERED that this Order will remain in effect for the pendency of this litigation or until further order of the Court, it is further

  ORDERED that defendants show cause on or before May 15, 1990, why this injunction should not be made permanent.


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