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Caskey v. Dooley

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

August 24, 2018





         This matter is before the court on the pro se amended complaint of plaintiff Cody Ray Caskey, formerly an inmate at the Mike Durfee State Penitentiary (MDSP). See Docket Nos. 1 & 13. Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment. See Docket No. 43. This matter was referred to this magistrate judge for a recommended disposition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and the October 16, 2014, standing order of the Honorable Karen E. Schreier, United States District Judge. For the reasons discussed below, the court recommends granting defendants' motion.


         A. Deliberate Indifference Claim

         Mr. Caskey alleges defendant Dooley and defendant Adams were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs by refusing to give him hormone replacement therapy, in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. See Docket Nos. 1 and 13.[2] Defendants' statement of undisputed facts, unresponded to by Mr. Caskey, is as follows.[3] See Docket No. 45.

         At the time of the events described by Mr. Caskey in his complaints in this matter, he was incarcerated at the Mike Durfee State Prison (MDSP) in Springfield, South Dakota. Id. at p. 1, ¶ 1. By the time he filed his complaint in May, 2017, he had been transferred to the South Dakota State Penitentiary (SDSP) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Id. at pp. 1-2, ¶ 2. He was paroled on March 29, 2018, and currently resides in Texas. Id.

         Mr. Caskey was initially incarcerated in the South Dakota state prison system on approximately October 9, 2012. Id. at p. 13, ¶ 53. Dr. Christopher Davidson, a Sioux Falls psychiatrist, saw Mr. Caskey upon his first arrival at prison on October 9, 2012, for an intake mental health appointment. Id. at pp. 11, 13; ¶¶ 47, 53. The last time Dr. Davidson saw Mr. Caskey was May 9, 2014.[4] Id. at pp. 11-12, ¶ 48. Dr. Davidson's records did not document a diagnosis of gender identity disorder or dysfunction (“GID”) or a prescription for hormone therapy. Id. at pp. 11-13, ¶¶ 47-55.

         Dr. Davidson did diagnose Mr. Caskey with mood disorder, anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive personality traits, and narcolepsy. Id. Dr. Davidson's notes did indicate that Mr. Caskey had reported to him he walked in a feminine way and pushed up his boobs. Id. Furthermore, the notes included Mr. Caskey's report of being hospitalized at age 14 in a mental institution because he was starting to reveal his sexuality and deal with it; he reported having been diagnosed at that time with bipolar disorder with psychotic features. Id. Mr. Caskey told Dr. Davidson that since age 14, he had become much more comfortable and that he had been mostly stable since that time, especially over the last 4-5 years (i.e. from approximately 2007-2012). Id.

         Mr. Caskey told prison health officials in 2014 that he was a homosexual and had been diagnosed with HIV approximately 18 years earlier. Id. at pp. 13-14, ¶¶ 56-57. However, Mr. Caskey was noncompliant with anti-viral medications for HIV and those medications were eventually discontinued. Id. During his initial period of incarceration, Mr. Caskey never mentioned having been diagnosed with GID or having previously been prescribed hormone replacement therapy. Id. at pp. 13-15, ¶ 56-64. During this initial period of incarceration, Mr. Caskey never requested that he be prescribed hormone replacement therapy. Id.

         Mr. Caskey was paroled from his initial incarceration in approximately March, 2015. See Docket No. 48 at p. 2. His parole was revoked in August, 2015, and he was paroled a second time sometime prior to August, 2016. Id. During this brief, second, period of incarceration, Mr. Caskey told prison personnel in May, 2016, that he was transgender and, although he had previously been prescribed hormone treatment in Texas, he had been off of the treatment for about 10 years. See Docket No. 45 at pp. 5-6, ¶¶ 18, 20; Docket No. 49 at p. 5, ¶ 16.

         After being paroled for the second time in 2016, Mr. Caskey absconded from supervision. See Docket No. 45 at p. 7, ¶¶ 27-30. An arrest warrant was issued for him on August 30, 2016, for this alleged parole violation. Id. He was apprehended in Travis County, Texas, on approximately December 9, 2016. Id. He returned to South Dakota and his parole was revoked. Id. In anticipation of Mr. Caskey's return to the South Dakota prison system, on December 15, 2016, defendants requested Mr. Caskey's medical records from the Texas facility where he had been held. Id. at p. 8. ¶ 31.

         The first mention Mr. Caskey made to prison officials that he believed he suffered from GID was on January 27, 2017, when his medical history was taken upon his readmission to prison following his (second) parole revocation. Id. at p. 7, ¶ 26. When Mr. Caskey received an initial physical examination upon reentering prison on February 1, 2017, he reported he had been receiving hormone replacement therapy in Texas immediately prior to his apprehension and he asked that his medication be continued. Id. at p. 8, ¶ 32. However, Mr. Caskey has admitted variously that he has been off of hormone replacement therapy for either 5 or 10 years, which would make his statement in February, 2017, untrue. See Docket No. 10, p. 41; Docket No. 13, p. 57; Docket No. 49 at p. 5, ¶ 16.

         On February 10, 2017, Mr. Caskey was the subject of a health intake interview. Id. at p. 16, ¶ 66. He told prison officials he was transgender and had attempted suicide at age 16 due to the stress of being transgender, though he denied any suicidal ideation at the time of the interview. Id. at p. 16, ¶¶ 66-67.

         The first grievance Mr. Caskey ever filed with defendants regarding his request for hormone replacement therapy was dated February 16, 2017. Id. at pp. 4-5, ¶¶ 12, 19. In his grievance, he stated he was not feeling proper after being taken off of prescription Premarin. Id. He requested “continuation” of Premarin to stabilize his emotions. Id.

         On February 22, 2017, Mr. Caskey reported to Health Services to follow up on his request for hormone therapy. Id. at p. 8, ¶ 33. Health Services told him it had requested and received his medical records from Texas, but those records did not mention hormone replacement therapy. Id. Mr. Caskey suggested defendants had not sent their records request to the correct place. Id. at pp. 8-9, ¶ 34. Defendants had Mr. Caskey fill out two blank forms which would allow defendants to make further requests for Mr. Caskey's medical records. Id. at p. 9, ¶ 35.

         On February 23, 2017, defendants sent Mr. Caskey an Informal Resolution Response (IRR--a response to his grievance), in which they stated they had received Mr. Caskey's outside medical records and were unable to verify any prescription for Premarin. Id. at p. 4, ¶ 13.

         On February 28, 2017, Mr. Caskey again contacted Health Services regarding his medical records. Id. at p. 9, ¶ 36. Health Services informed Mr. Caskey that they had sent a request for records, but no records were found. Id. Mr. Caskey then told defendants he had used his “female name” in Texas and they needed to request the records under that name. Id.

         Health Services then had Mr. Caskey sign yet another medical records request form and sent this out. Id. at pp. 9-10, ¶ 39. However, as of July 21, 2017, defendants had not been able to obtain any documentation that Mr. Caskey had ever been diagnosed with GID or that he had ever been prescribed hormone replacement therapy in connection with GID. Id. at p. 10, ¶ 40.

         Mr. Caskey was seen by Mental Health on June 8, 2017. Id. at p. 11, ¶ 45. At that appointment, Mr. Caskey told the mental health professional that he had been previously diagnosed by Dr. Christopher Davidson, a Sioux Falls psychiatrist, with GID. Id. at p. 11, ¶ 46.

         Defendants then obtained Dr. Davidson's records concerning Mr. Caskey. Those records are detailed above in connection with Mr. Caskey's initial period of incarceration. As discussed above, Dr. Davidson's records did not contain a diagnosis for GID, did not contain any prescriptions for hormone replacement therapy, and did not document any pre-incarceration diagnosis or treatment along those lines.

         In response to defendants' IRR, Mr. Caskey filed a Request for Administrative Remedy (AR) in which he continued to maintain that he did not feel complete without taking Premarin and requested that defendants immediately prescribe that drug for him. Id. at p. 4, ¶ 14. He asserted in his AR that he was transgender and by law entitled to hormonal replacement. Id. Warden Dooley responded to Mr. Caskey's AR by informing him defendants had searched and could not find any substantiation in his medical records that he was ever prescribed hormone replacement. Id. at p. 5, ¶¶ 15-16. Therefore, the Warden denied the grievance as per the medical department. Id.

         On June 14, 2017, Defendant Brad Adams submitted an authorization request to have Mr. Caskey evaluated by an endocrinologist for treatment of gender dysphoria. Id. at p. 17, ¶ 70. Dr. Adams' request was denied by the medical director because Mr. Caskey needed first to be diagnosed with GID. Id. at p. 17-18, ¶¶ 74-76. Without such a diagnosis, the medical director concluded, it was premature to determine whether hormone treatment was warranted and appropriate. Id. Defendants advised Mr. Caskey in October, 2017, that they were in the process of hiring a consultant to address hormone replacement requests statewide. Id. at p. 18, ¶¶ 77-78. On November 13, 2017, defendants advised Mr. Caskey that Dr. Adams' request for an endocrinology appointment was being further reviewed. Id. at p. 19, ¶ 81.

         Defendants hired their GID consultant, who assumed her duties in May, 2018. Id. at p. 22, ¶¶ 94-96. However, Mr. Caskey had already been paroled in March, 2018, so he was never evaluated by this consultant. Id.

         Defendants assert numerous instances documented in Mr. Caskey's medical and administrative record which they believe shows manipulation and malingering on his part. Id. at pp. 23-29, ¶¶ 97-126. These are in connection with reports of back and neck pain, suicide threats, or attempts to obtain medications or separate shower facilities. Id. None of the instances ...

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