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Lapete Hicks, Sr v. Correct Care Solutions

July 5, 2012

LAPETE HICKS, SR.,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS, AND MINNEHAHA COUNTY JAIL, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Karen E. Schreier Chief Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Plaintiff, LaPete Hicks, Sr., filed a pro se civil rights lawsuit against defendants, Correct Care Solutions and the Minnehaha County Jail. Hicks is currently incarcerated at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but at the time relevant to this action he was housed in the Minnehaha County Jail in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Hicks alleges that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs when they stopped providing him with free snacks, which Hicks claims he needed to treat his hypoglycemia. Defendants move for summary judgment. Hicks opposes defendants' motion.

FACTS

Because Hicks failed to submit a statement of material facts,*fn1 the material facts set forth in defendants' statement of material facts are deemed admitted. See D.S.D. LR 56.1(D) ("All material facts set forth in the movant's statement of material facts will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the opposing party's statement of material facts.). Thus, in the light most favorable to Hicks, the nonmoving party, the facts are as follows:

Defendant Correct Care Health Solutions (Correct Care) is the private entity that provides healthcare services at the Minnehaha County Jail under a contract with the county. Hicks claims that he was denied medical care and treatment for his hypoglycemia while detained at the Minnehaha County Jail. Dr. Jean Hesler is a licensed physician who works with Correct Care Solutions to provide medical care to inmates at the Minnehaha County Jail. Dr. Hesler was directly involved in Hicks's medical care and treatment during his detention at the jail. Dr. Hesler provided an affidavit relating to Hicks's medical treatment at the Minnehaha County Jail.

The Minnehaha County jail provides free snacks on a regular basis to inmates diagnosed with diabetes in order to help them maintain regular blood sugar levels. Free snacks are also provided to inmates on as needed basis for a variety of reasons, including when inmates experience symptoms associated with low blood sugar levels.

When Hicks entered the Minnehaha County Jail in July 2010, he underwent a physical assessment and a review of his medical history. Hicks reported a history of hypertension and asthma, but he did not indicate a history of diabetes or low blood sugar levels. Hicks was put on a special diet to manage his hypertension and weight. Hicks later removed himself from the diet and elected to consume the regular meals. In early 2011, Hicks complained of a lack of energy and dizziness, which he attributed to low blood sugar. Hicks's condition was monitored and his blood sugar levels were checked three times a week for two weeks. During that time, a medical order was written giving Hicks access to free snacks to raise his blood sugar. On January 9, 2011, at around 10:20 p.m., medical staff were called to Hicks's cell after he was found lying on the floor. Hicks's blood sugar level was checked and was normal. Earlier that evening, his blood sugar level had been checked and had tested as slightly below normal. Hicks was given a snack at the time, which raised his blood sugar levels.

During his detention at the Minnehaha County Jail, Hicks complained several times of dizziness, which he believed was caused by low blood sugar levels. In Dr. Heisler's professional medical opinion, Hicks's symptoms were not objectively serious and were likely due to his hypertension, overexertion while exercising, or his failure to eat meals when they were served. Dr. Heisler also believed that his symptoms could have been an unavoidable side effect of his medications. After reviewing Hicks's blood sugar tests, Dr. Heisler concluded that Hicks did not require special medication, special medical treatment, additional testing, or free snacks on a regular daily basis for hypoglycemia. Therefore, on or about February 1, 2011, Dr. Heisler entered a medical order to discontinue Hicks's free snacks because they were not medically necessary.

Hicks objected to his free snacks being discontinued. On February 15, 2011, Hicks saw Dr. Heisler for a scheduled check-up and review of his chronic health conditions. Hicks was uncooperative and refused further treatment after Dr. Heisler informed him that he did not require free snacks on a daily basis. According to Dr. Heisler, Hicks never reported an acute incident of low blood sugar levels after she entered the order to discontinue his free snacks. Hicks's blood sugar levels were tested several times after his free snacks were discontinued; his blood sugar levels were within normal parameters.

If Hicks had reported an acute incident of low blood sugar levels, he would have been given a snack, juice, or glucose tablets and his blood sugar would have been tested and further treatment would have been provided if necessary.

In July of 2011, Hicks asked to see medical staff because of low energy levels, which Hicks believed were caused by hypoglycemia. Hicks was offered a CMP, CBC, and thyroid test to determine if there was a medical reason for his symptoms, but he refused to undergo testing.*fn2 In August of 2011, Hicks saw a physician's assistant for a chronic care check-up of his hypertension. During that visit, he complained that he experienced hypoglycemia symptoms after exercising. According to Dr. Heisler, this is normal and the standard treatment approach is for the patient to take preventative and corrective measures by avoiding overexertion. On August 2, 2011, Hicks reported feeling dizzy and sweating when he got up from his bunk for recreation time. His blood sugar levels tested normal and symptoms improved after several minutes. On several occasions during his detention at the Minnehaha County Jail, Hicks was noncompliant with medical orders or exercised his right to refuse medical treatment.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment "should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the case under the governing substantive law will properly preclude summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Summary judgment is not appropriate if a dispute about a material fact is genuine, that is, if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

The moving party bears the burden of bringing forward sufficient evidence to establish that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The nonmoving party is entitled to the benefit of all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts in the record. Vette Co. v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 612 F.2d 1076, 1077 (8th Cir. 1980). The nonmoving party may not, however, merely rest upon allegations or denials in its pleadings, but must set ...


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