United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Ray Moberly, a prisoner without a lawyer, proceeds on an
Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference against Dr.
Liaw and Dr. Eichmann for discontinuing his medication in
September 2017 at the Westville Correctional Facility. The
defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that they
discontinued his medication based on information that Moberly
had abused his medication and in accordance with their
defendants also provided Moberly with the summary judgment
notice required by N.D. Ind. L.R. 56-1 and a copy of both
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 and Local Rule 56-1. ECF
29. The notice informed Moberly of the consequences of
forgoing a response. It advised that, unless he disputed the
facts presented by the defendants, the court could accept
those facts as true. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). It
further advised that a lack of response could result in the
dismissal of his case. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a).
Nevertheless, Moberly did not file a response.
Barbara Eichmann works as a psychiatrist at the Westville
Correctional Facility. ECF 30-1. Dr. Andrew Liaw worked as a
physician at the Westville Correctional Facility. ECF 30-2.
In support of the motion for summary judgment, the defendants
submitted affidavits and medical records, which revealed the
following. On June 20, 2017, Dr. Eichmann examined Moberly,
who was diagnosed with mood disorder and post-traumatic
stress disorder. ECF 26-4 at 3. She noted that he was placed
in restricted housing due to a positive test for
methamphetamine use. Id. At Moberly's request,
Dr. Eichmann prescribed Effexor, a psychotropic medication,
at 75 mg per day but, based on his history of substance
abuse, ordered that he receive the medication crushed and
floated in a cup of water. Id.; ECF 26-1 at 2-3.
12, 2017, Moberly asked to increase his dosage of Effexor,
and Dr. Eichmann increased the dosage to 75 mg twice per day.
ECF 26-4 at 10-14. On July 13, Dr. Liaw renewed Moberly's
order for Neurontin, which was prescribed to alleviate the
pain from a chronic back condition. Id. at 16. On
August 15, Moberly asked to double his dosage of Effexor.
Id. at 30. On September 5, Dr. Eichmann increased
the morning dosage to 150 mg. Id. at 35-38.
September 13, 2017, a correctional officer asked a nurse if
Moberly's medication included an orange powder.
Id. at 40. The nurse confirmed that he was
prescribed Effexor, which becomes an orange powder when
crushed. Id. On September 14, Dr. Eichmann became
aware of reports that Moberly had attempted to traffick
Effexor. Id. at 42-43; ECF 26-1 at 3-4. Dr. Eichmann
recalled that Moberly had specifically requested that he not
be prescribed the extended release version of Effexor, which
would have been less attractive to a drug-seeking individual.
ECF 26-1 at 4. She also considered that she had not observed
or seen documentation of significant mental health symptoms
since Moberly's placement in restricted housing.
Id. at 3. As a result, she discontinued the Effexor
September 22, 2017, Dr. Liaw became aware of the reports that
Moberly was trafficking Effexor and was concerned that he
might also traffick Neurontin, which is among the most
commonly trafficked drugs in the correctional system. ECF
26-2 at 2. Additionally, Moberly's lab work revealed
inconsistent levels of Neurontin, which suggested that he was
not taking Neurontin as prescribed. Id. As a result,
Dr. Liaw discontinued the Neurontin prescription. ECF 26-4 at
48-49. On September 26, a nurse described Moberly as
aggressive and irate due to the discontinuation of his
medication and indicated that he yelled, “I didn't
hoard them three times. I only did it twice, and the one time
was when that guy gave me meth.” Id. at 51.
October 13, 2017, Dr. Liaw examined Moberly during a chronic
care appointment. Moberly complained of back pain and asked
for Neurontin, but Dr. Liaw declined based on his previous
concerns. Id. at 56-59. Dr. Liaw noted that Moberly
had a potentially legitimate source of pain but observed that
Moberly was able to walk and get on and off the examination
table with no assistance and without difficulty. ECF 26-2 at
3-4. Dr. Liaw offered acetaminophen to alleviate pain, but
Moberly declined. Id. On November 28, Moberly asked
for Effexor, but Dr. Eichmann observed no significant mental
health symptoms and refused. ECF 26-4 at 71-73. She described
him as irate and indicated that she would not see him again
if he did not show improvement in his behavior and treatment
compliance during psychotherapy sessions. Id. On
January 16, Moberly refused a chronic care appointment with
Dr. Liaw. ECF 26-2 at 4. In May 2018, Moberly transferred to
the New Castle Correctional Facility, and his prescriptions
for Neurontin and Effexor remain discontinued. ECF 17, ECF
56-3 at 46.
Moberly did not respond to the motion for summary judgment,
in his complaint and deposition testimony, he suggests that
his record of drug trafficking is misleading and that the
defendants should have not relied on it. For example, in his
complaint, Moberly alleges that, on September 22, 2017, he
was not attempting to traffick drugs. ECF 1 at 2. Instead, he
immediately returned an envelope to the correctional officer
distributing mail because it was addressed to another inmate
and that he had no prior knowledge of its contents.
Id. He alleges that he pled guilty to disciplinary
charges not because he had attempted to traffick Effexor but
to avoid a harsher sentence. Id. at 3. At his
deposition, he testified that he tested positive for
methamphetamine because another inmate put it in his food
without his knowledge. ECF 56-3 at 15-16. He explained that
his lab work reflected fluctuating levels of Neurontin
because medical staff did not consistently provide his
medication. Id. at 23. He also explained that the
nurse misheard him when she recorded his statement that he
had hoarded his medication twice. Id. at 25-26.
judgment must be granted when “there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A
genuine dispute of material fact exists when “the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Not every
dispute between the parties makes summary judgment
inappropriate; “[o]nly disputes over facts that might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will
properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.”
Id. In determining whether summary judgment is
appropriate, the deciding court must construe all facts in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all
reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Ogden v.
Atterholt, 606 F.3d 355, 358 (7th Cir. 2010).
“However, our favor toward the nonmoving party does not
extend to drawing inferences that are supported by only
speculation or conjecture.” Fitzgerald v.
Santoro, 707 F.3d 725, 730 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing
Harper v. C.R. Eng., Inc., 687 F.3d 297, 306 (7th
alleges that Dr. Eichmann and Dr. Liaw acted with deliberate
indifference to his medical needs by discontinuing his
medication. The defendants respond that they discontinued his
medication based on information that Moberly had abused his
medication and in accordance with their medical judgment.
Under the Eighth Amendment, inmates are entitled to adequate
medical care. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104
(1976). To establish liability under the Eighth Amendment, a
prisoner must show: (1) his medical need was objectively
serious; and (2) the defendant acted with deliberate
indifference to his medical need. Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994.) A medical need is
“serious” if it is one that a physician has
diagnosed as mandating treatment, or one that is so obvious
that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity
for a doctor's attention, and ...