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Stanton v. Indiana Dept. of Corrections

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

August 31, 2018

CHRISTOPHER A. STANTON, Plaintiff,
v.
INDIANA DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          PHILIP P. SIMON, JUDGE.

         Christopher A. Stanton, a prisoner without a lawyer, proceeds on an Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs against Barbara Eichmann and Charles Dalrymple. He alleges that Dr. Eichmann and Dalrymple were aware of his mental condition and deprived him of psychiatric medication and housing accommodations in a single or double cell from January 18, 2016, to July 20, 2016, at the Westville Correctional Facility. Both sides seeks summary judgment. On the one hand, Stanton argues that the defendants acted with deliberate indifference by denying his requests to be housed in a single or double cell and by denying his requests for medication. For their parts, the defendants argue that they provided medical treatment in accordance with their medical judgment, and this fact precludes summary judgment.

         Factual Background

         Barbara Eichmann worked as a psychiatrist at the Westville Correctional Facility. ECF 69-1 at 1. Charles Dalrymple worked as a mental health therapist at the same facility. Dr. Eichmann and Dalrymple each submitted an affidavit (ECF 69-1, ECF 69-3) and the relevant medical records (ECF 69-2), which revealed the following.

         The Westville Correctional Facility provides specialized housing for inmates determined to be significantly impaired by mental illness in the Special Needs Acclimation Program (“SNAP”) Unit. ECF 69-3 at 3. Though Dalrymple could make placement recommendations, the lead psychologist and correctional staff ultimately determined whether an inmate would be placed in the specialized housing. Id. Dr. Eichmann was not involved with this decision-making process. ECF 69-1 at 1.

         According to the defendants' expertise, the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder include the tendency to manipulate and treat others harshly or with callous indifference, aggressive or violent behavior, lying, impulsive behavior, inability to sustain consistent work behavior, and substance abuse. Id. at 3-4. No. medication specifically treats antisocial personality disorder, but medication may be prescribed to treat the symptoms, including anxiety or depression. Id. Psychotherapy is also used to treat antisocial personality disorder. Id. Depression is a mood disorder with persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest. Id. at 4. Symptoms include difficulty eating and sleeping, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and thoughts of death or suicide. Id. It can be treated with antidepressants or psychotherapy. Id.

         Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in individuals who experience a shocking or traumatic event. Id. Symptoms, which may be latent and may occur sporadically, include intrusive memories of the event, avoidance of the traumatic event, negative changes in thinking or mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Id. Flashbacks and dissociation may also occur, but violence during flashbacks is extremely unusual. Id. Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes mood swings, including manic episodes, in which an individual has increased energy and activity levels; depressive episodes, in which an individual feels depressed and has decreased energy levels; and mixed episodes, in which an individual experiences both manic and depressive symptoms. Id.

         On October 8, 2015, Stanton underwent a psychological intake evaluation at the Reception Diagnostic Center. ECF 69-2 at 199-201. A mental health counselor noted Stanton's history of using suicidal intent and self-harm to manipulate his housing assignments during his previous term of incarceration. Id. Stanton reported a history of psychotropic medication and several diagnoses, including anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. Id. On October 12, 2015, Stanton underwent an initial psychiatric evaluation. Id. at 1-6. He was diagnosed with major depressive affective disorder and polysubstance dependence and was prescribed Celexa to reduce stress and anxiety. Id.

         While tedious, in order to fully appreciate the extent of the attention that Stanton received from mental health providers, it is important to go through the chronology of events. So here goes: On October 27, 2015, Stanton was transferred to the Westville Correctional Facility and was placed in general population. Id. at 7-8. On November 2, 2015, Dr. Eichmann discontinued Celexa because Stanton had refused it. Id. at 17. He explained that he did not believe he needed it if he was able to keep busy. Id. On November 3, 2015, Stanton met with Gary M. Durak, Ph.D., and reported no mental health symptoms and repeated that he did not need Celexa. Id. He also reported previous suicide attempts but he admitted that he engaged in self-mutilating behavior to facilitate housing changes. Id. He reported that, when he was eight years old, he witnessed the murder of his grandfather. Id. But the psychologist observed no symptoms of PTSD and assessed major depressive affective disorder and polysubstance dependence. Id.

         On November 19, 2015, Stanton again told Dr. Eichmann that he felt fine without medication and wanted to continue without it. Id. at 25-29. On December 29, 2015, during an individual therapy session, Stanton revealed that previous suicide attempts were not motivated by suicidal intent but were intended to achieve a desired result. Id. at 30-33. The statements by Stanton that he did not need any medication and his repeated admissions that, in the past, he used his mental health to achieve some ulterior goal, later informed many of the decisions made by Dalrymple and Dr. Eichmann.

         On January 18, 2016, Stanton was moved to segregation following a disciplinary incident. Id. at 34-35. On the same day, Stanton submitted a request to be moved to segregation, stating that he could not tolerate an open dormitory and that he would assault a correctional officer if necessary. Id. at 160. Three days later, Stanton submitted a request to be moved to a single or double cell. Id. at 161. Dalrymple responded that he would speak to Stanton during weekly rounds and explained that mental health staff had no say on housing assignments. Id.

         On January 29, 2016, Stanton submitted a request, stating that he could not tolerate an open dormitory due to post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) and anxiety and that he would stab somebody if necessary. Id. at 162. He stated that he wanted “to see the head doctor not no therapist flunky.” Id. At Stanton's cell, Dalrymple told Stanton that the mental health unit could recommend housing accommodations but that housing decisions were ultimately made by the administration. Id. at 45-46. Stanton responded, “I guess I'll just have to keep stabbing people.” Id. Dalrymple thought he was being played by Stanton. He found Stanton's behavior to be consistent with antisocial personality disorder and forwarded the housing request to the lead psychologist. Id.

         On February 14, 2016, Stanton submitted a request to speak to a therapist. Id. at 163. Dalrymple responded that he would see Stanton no later than February 23. Id. On February 23, 2016, Dalrymple noted that the medical records did not include a PTSD diagnosis but forwarded Stanton's housing request to the lead psychologist.[1] Id. at 53-56. On February 27, 2016, Stanton submitted a request, stating that he would be released from segregation in fifteen days. Id. at 164. He stated that, if he was placed in an open dormitory and received another disciplinary write up due to PTSD, he would file a lawsuit. Id. Dalrymple forwarded the housing request to the lead psychologist. Id.

         On March 5, 2016, Stanton submitted a request, seeking an update on his housing request. Id. Dalrymple told Stanton once again that the mental health department did not determine housing assignments. Id. A few days later, Dalrymple met with Stanton at his cell and informed him that correctional staff ultimately determined housing assignments and that his case manager was working on this issue. Id. at 61-63. The following day, Stanton submitted a request, stating that mental health did have the authority to dictate housing assignments, citing a document from another lawsuit, and threatened that he was going to contact the ACLU. Id. at 166. Dalrymple responded that the terms of that other lawsuit did not apply to Stanton. Id. Stanton and Dalrymple met again the following day, and Stanton told Dalrymple that he had bipolar disorder and denied ever seeing a psychologist since transferring to the Westville Correctional Facility. Id. at 64-66. Dalrymple noted that no records indicated diagnoses for bipolar disorder or PTSD but that the records did indicate that Stanton had seen a psychologist in November 2015. Id. Once again, Dalrymple noted that he found Stanton's behavior to be consistent with antisocial personality disorder. Id.

         Because Stanton transferred to a different unit, Dalrymple did not interact with Stanton again until April 20, 2016. ECF 69-3 at 11. Dalrymple did not recommend Stanton for placement in the SNAP Unit because his symptoms did not suggest that such placement was required. Id. From Dalrymple's perspective, Stanton, who frequently exhibited argumentative and demanding behavior, presented with the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder rather than the symptoms of PTSD or bipolar disorder. Id.

         On March 15, 2016, a psychologist reviewed Stanton's treatment plan, and Stanton attended an individual therapy session. Id. at 68-72. On April 4, 2016, Stanton submitted a request, stating that he needed mental health assistance due to family issues and that he would “do something messed up” if he was “not locked up and stripped of everything.” Id. at 76. On April 7, 2016, Stanton received a disciplinary write up for threatening correctional staff. Id. at 77. On April 11, 2016, Stanton attended an individual therapy session. Id. at 78-80. On April 12, 2016, Stanton received another disciplinary write up -- this one for refusing an order. Id. at 81.

         On April 19, 2016, Stanton assaulted a correctional officer and was then placed in segregation. Id. at 82-83. On April 20, 2016, Stanton submitted a request, stating that he was going to file a lawsuit because the mental health staff allowed his PTSD to result in the loss of good time credit. Id. at 169. Specifically, he explained that he blacked out and had a flashback when the correctional officer grabbed him and that he had the correctional officer in a headlock when he regained consciousness. Id. On April 23, 2016, Stanton submitted a request, declaring that he would start a hunger strike until he was transferred to another correctional facility and until his medical needs were satisfied. Id. at 167. A nurse observed that that Stanton became upset after learning that the physician had stopped insulin orders. Id. at 95-96. Stanton refused all food and medication. Id. On April 25, 2016, Stanton stated he would not eat until he was transferred to a different facility and explained that he assaulted to correctional officer because he could not tolerate general population. Id. at 101-02. However, Stanton abandoned the hunger strike later that day. Id. at 103-04.

         On April 26, 2016, Dalrymple met Stanton at his cell and Stanton explained that he assaulted the correctional officer after he learned that he was being transferred to an open dormitory and blacked out. Id. at 109-10. He further complained about stress, anxiety, and PTSD. Id. Dalrymple agreed to an out-of-cell visit no later than May 3, 2016. Id. On that date, Stanton asked Dalrymple for medication for his mental condition. Id. at 113-15. He also complained about the lack of available coping strategies as he did not have a stress ball, punching bag, or enough space to exercise; he also complained about his relationship with his family. Id. Dalrymple advised Stanton to consider both the positive and the negative ...


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