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Briley v. Weber

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division

June 10, 2014

DOUG WEBER, Warden, South Dakota State Prison; and ROBERT DOOLEY, Warden, Mike Durfee State Prison, Defendants.


KAREN E. SCHREIER, District Judge.

Plaintiff, Liberty Cash Briley, is an inmate at the South Dakota State Penitentiary (SDSP) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. On October 2, 2012, Briley filed a pro se civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendants violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment by failing to protect him from an inmate with Hepatitis C and by failing to provide necessary medical care. Docket 1. After screening Briley's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the court directed service on both counts. Docket 6. Nonetheless, on July 30, 2013, with the assistance of appointed counsel, Briley filed an amended complaint, wherein he reiterated the allegations set forth in his original complaint but removed two defendants, each of whom the court had dismissed in an order dated January 29, 2013. Dockets 22, 36. On September 16, 2013, in addition to answering the amended complaint, defendants moved for summary judgment. Dockets 39, 40. Briley responded in opposition to the motion for summary judgment on October 7, 2013, and the defendants replied on October 18, 2013. Dockets 49, 53. After considering the arguments of the parties, the court grants defendants' motion for summary judgment.


Viewed in a light most favorable to Briley, the nonmoving party, the facts are as follows:

Briley is an inmate in the custody of the South Dakota Department of Corrections (SDDOC). At the commencement of this lawsuit, Briley was incarcerated at Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield, South Dakota. Dockets 42 at ¶ 1; 48 at ¶ 1. He was paroled, however, on March 25, 2013. Dockets 42 at ¶ 2; 48 at ¶ 2. When he returned to custody on September 10, 2013, he was placed in the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he currently resides. Dockets 42 at ¶ 2; 48 at ¶ 2.

While in the custody of the SDDOC, Briley has been seen by various medical professionals with regard to Hepatitis C. According to his medical records, Briley first requested Hepatitis C testing on June 13, 2012. Docket 46-1 at 1. Briley requested the same on June 19, 2012, and he eventually received such testing on June 26, 2012, on which date Briley tested positive for Hepatitis C.[1] Dockets 42 at ¶ 56; 46-1 at 5, 11; 48 at ¶ 56. On July 6, 2012, Correctional Health Services performed laboratory testing on Briley's liver and found that his liver enzymes were normal. Dockets 42 at ¶ 66; 48 at ¶ 66.

Briley initiated chronic care for his Hepatitis C on July 19, 2012.[2] Dockets 42 at ¶ 68; 46-1 at 12; 48 at ¶ 68. At that same appointment, Dr. Hanvey ordered Hepatitis C viral load and genotype, advised Briley to contact Correctional Health Services if he experienced any problems, and educated Briley about the motor transmission symptoms of Hepatitis C, as well as the potential treatment options going forward. Dockets 42 at ¶ 70; 46-1 at 12; 48 at ¶ 70. Dr. Hanvey also informed Briley that he did not qualify for Hepatitis C drug therapy treatment because his liver enzymes were not elevated and because Briley would be released from prison within seven months and would thus be unable to finish the treatment.[3] Dockets 42 at ¶ 71; 48 at ¶ 71. Other considerations that factored into Briley's ineligibility for drug therapy treatment were the fact that he was being treated for mental health conditions and would thus need approval from his psychiatrist, he had a history of substance abuse, and he had a history of noncompliance with psychiatric medications. Dockets 42 at ¶ 75; 48 at ¶ 75.

On July 23, 2012, Briley filed an informal resolution request[4] seeking treatment for his Hepatitis C. Docket 45-2 at 1. In the same submission, Briley addressed issues he had with his living arrangement while incarcerated at SDSP in 2011.[5] Dockets 42 at ¶ 13; 45-2 at 1; 48 at ¶ 13. On January 31, 2011, Briley was placed in cell N-002. Docket 45-5. According to SDSP transfer records, inmate S.S. was placed in cell N-002 on March 23, 2011, at which point Briley and S.S. became cell mates.[6] Dockets 45-4; 45-5. Briley and S.S. were both transferred to cell S-023 on April 14, 2011. Dockets 45-4; 45-5. On April 27, 2011, however, S.S. was transferred to the infirmary, and records indicate that the two inmates never shared a cell again. Dockets 42 at ¶ 33; 45-4; 45-5. S.S. died on June 15, 2011, from renal disease secondary to Hepatitis C. Dockets 42 at ¶ 92; 48 at ¶ 92. In his informal resolution request, Briley alleged that he was required to take care of S.S. and "clean up after him" while the two shared a cell at SDSP. Docket 45-2 at 1. Briley claims that he contracted hepatitis-a disease from which S.S. eventually died-while living with and caring for S.S. Id.

The following day, July 24, 2012, Briley filed an additional informal resolution request on the matter, this time taking issue with the fact that he had not been "provided the information and tools nessesary [sic] to protect [him]self while living with another inmate who had a contagious disease." Docket 45-2 at 2. Briley was apparently unaware of S.S.'s condition until weeks after S.S.'s death. Id. at 1. To remedy the issue, Briley requested compensation for past and future harm and expenses. Id. at 2.

In response to Briley's July 23, 2012, resolution request, a member of Briley's unit staff contacted Correctional Health Services to discuss Briley's request for treatment. Dockets 42 at ¶ 14; 48 at ¶ 14. After this discussion, Briley was told that he would "receive treatment based on protocol set up by medical." Docket 45-2 at 1. Briley was also told that whether he qualified for treatment would depend on the results of blood tests. Id. If Briley had any further questions, he was advised to direct them to medical staff at designated times. Id. With regard to the July 24, 2012, request, prison staff noted that Briley had been "educated by the PA on 7-19-12 on how [Hepatitis C] is transmitted[, ]" and that his request could not otherwise be resolved "at this level."[7] Id. at 2.

On July 31, 2012, Briley filed a request for administrative remedy regarding his Hepatitis treatment.[8] Dockets 42 at ¶ 18; 45-2 at 3; 48 at ¶ 18. More specifically, Briley's request communicated his belief that withholding treatment due to his short sentence was not "the proper way to handle this matter." Docket 45-2 at 3. Warden Robert Dooley responded to Briley's request for administrative remedy on August 24, 2012, and informed Briley that he would "be scheduled with Dr. Wallinga in the next few weeks to discuss [his] medical condition." Docket 45-2 at 4.

Prior to receiving a response from Warden Dooley, however, Briley sent a kite to the Division of Correctional Behavioral Health to request that his medications be restarted. Docket 46-1 at 16. Further, Briley communicated that he was "stressed about the Hepititis [sic] C stuff" and that his roommate was acting differently, possibly due to a lack of knowledge about Briley's condition. Id. Accordingly, Briley was scheduled to see Dr. Wallinga on August 16, 2012. Dockets 42 at ¶ 73; 48 at ¶ 73. During the appointment, Briley asked questions about his Hepatitis C and informed Dr. Wallinga that he had cared for an inmate who had severe Hepatitis C, but that there was no known blood exposure. Dockets 42 at ¶ 73; 48 at ¶ 73. Dr. Wallinga gave Briley information about Hepatitis C and recommended that Briley schedule follow-up appointments every four to six months upon discharge from incarceration. Dockets 42 at ¶ 74; 46-1 at 17; 48 at ¶ 74. Dr. Wallinga also informed Briley that his liver enzymes were normal, as were his previous liver function tests. Dockets 42 at ¶ 74; 46-1 at 17; 48 at ¶ 74.

As is relevant to this action, Briley does not contest defendants' assertion that neither Warden Weber nor Warden Dooley had any direct contact with Briley about his medical care. Dockets 42 at ¶ 77; 48 at ¶ 77. Briley does not dispute that defendants "were not personally involved in his care, did not discuss his care or medications with his treating physicians, and did not interfere in any way with the ability of medical personnel to exercise and ...

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