United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SIMON, JUDGE
Grothjan represents himself in this Eighth Amendment claim of
deliberate indifference against Dr. Taylor and Dr. Eichman
for his mental health treatment at the Westville Correctional
Facility. The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing
they treated Grothjan properly, in accordance with their
medical judgment. Grothjan responds that Dr. Eichman
mismanaged his medications and that Dr. Taylor failed to
personally see him or to provide appropriate housing and
therapy. But because these are merely disagreements with
Grothjan's course of treatment that do not rise to the
level of deliberate indifference, summary judgment is
warranted in this case.
Barbara Eichman worked as a psychiatrist at the Westville
Correctional Facility. ECF 104-2 at 1-2. With respect to
Grothjan's medical care, her role was to manage
medication for his mental health. Id. at 5-9. She
was not involved in housing decisions or medication
administration. Id. at 4, 9.
Eddie Taylor worked as the lead psychologist at the Westville
Correctional Facility. ECF 104-4 at 3. He supervised the
mental health program in a primarily administrative role and
did not see patients on a regular basis but only if another
mental health professional was not available. Id.
While Dr. Taylor could make recommendations for housing
assignments and transfers, the correctional staff ultimately
made those decisions. Id. at 7-8. Group therapy was
not available in restrictive housing. Id. at 17. Dr.
Taylor could not prescribe medication and was not responsible
for medication administration. Id. at 5. He recalls
receiving letters from Grothjan about his mental health
treatment and forwarded those letters to Grothjan's
counselors for them to address his concerns. Id. at
20-21. He also followed up with Grothjan's counselors at
mental health staff meetings. Id.
support of the motion for summary judgment, the defendants
submitted affidavits, medical records (spanning 713 pages),
and disciplinary records. Although laborious, I have
attempted to distill the information in these documents in my
recitation below. Suffice it to say that the records show
anything but deliberate indifference; far from it. They
demonstrate an active effort to treat Mr. Grothjan's
mental health issues. Here's what occurred set forth in a
3, 2016, Grothjan transferred to the Westville Correctional
Center with diagnoses of depression and panic disorder, and
he had prescriptions for mental health medication including
Remeron, Paxil, and Buspirone. ECF 104-3 at 399-412. On
intake, Grothjan reported a suicide attempt in 2015, but
denied any current suicidal intent. Id. at 401. On
June 11, Grothjan submitted a request to discuss his mental
health treatment, and a counselor scheduled an appointment.
Id. at 562. On June 15, Dr. Eichman renewed his
prescription for Buspirone. Id. at 388-89. A week
later, Grothjan submitted a request to discuss his medication
due to his discomfort in an open dormitory, and a counselor
scheduled an appointment with Dr. Eichman. Id. at
552. On June 26, Grothjan submitted a request to speak with a
psychiatrist, and a counselor responded that an appointment
had been scheduled. Id. at 551. On June 27, Grothjan
missed an appointment with Dr. Eichman due to a conflict with
his schedule. Id. at 376-77. On June 28, Grothjan
was moved to restrictive housing for assaulting an officer
and stated that he had no thoughts of suicide. Id.
at 327, 373-75. On June 30, he submitted a request for a new
housing assignment, and a counselor responded that
correctional staff determined housing assignments.
Id. at 550.
12, 2016, Dr. Eichman saw Grothjan for medication management.
Id. at 356-58. Grothjan told Dr. Eichman that he was
psychotic, but Dr. Eichman found his reports inconsistent
with psychosis, noted he had no history of psychosis, and
described him as someone who was simply seeking medication.
Id. She also informed Grothjan of the potential side
effects from anti-psychotic medication, including tardive
dyskinesia. Id.; ECF 104-2 at 5. Dr. Eichman
ultimately increased the dosage of Paxil based on his
complaints of constant anxiety. ECF 104-3 at 356-58.
15 and 22, a counselor met with Grothjan at his cell, but
could not meet with him on July 29 because he was in the law
library. Id. at 345. On July 31, Grothjan submitted
a request to replace his prescription of Paxil with Effexor,
and a counselor responded that he was scheduled to see Dr.
Eichman for a follow-up in October. Id. at 540.
August 10, 2016, Grothjan received individual therapy in an
out-of-cell setting. Id. at 336-38. He complained
about his housing assignment but denied suicidal intent.
Id. On August 25, a counselor met with Grothjan at
his cell. Id. at 332-33. He noted that Grothjan was
set to be released from restrictive housing on September 25
and was recommended for placement in the Special Needs
Acclimation Program (SNAP) unit, a specialized housing unit
for inmates with mental illness. Id. However,
Grothjan refused an out-of-cell visit. Id.
September 22, Grothjan submitted a request for Haldol,
Risperdal, or Thorazine, and a counselor responded that he
was scheduled for an appointment with Dr. Eichman.
Id. at 539. On September 27, a counselor met with
Grothjan at his cell. Id. at 315-16. He informed
Grothjan that he was recommended for the SNAP unit, but
Grothjan responded that he was not interested in the SNAP
unit and again refused an out-of-cell visit. Id. On
the same day, Dr. Eichman missed an appointment with Grothjan
due to computer issues but renewed his prescription for
Buspirone and Paxil. Id. at 311-14.
October 5, 2016, Grothjan submitted a request to reschedule
his appointment with Dr. Eichman, and a counselor responded
that his appointment had been rescheduled. Id. at
530. On October 6, Grothjan told a counselor that he heard
voices, but the counselor found he did not present as though
he was responding to internal stimulus. Id. at
303-04. Grothjan expressed concerns with his housing
assignment and refused an out-of-cell visit. Id. On
October 9, Grothjan sent medical records from the Swanson
Center to the mental health unit. Id. at 529. On
October 11, Grothjan submitted a request for placement in a
step-down mental health unit or to return to Pendleton, and a
counselor responded that he would discuss it with the doctor.
Id. at 528.
October 11, Grothjan discussed the medical records from the
Swanson Center with Dr. Eichman and asked her to replace
Paxil with Effexor. Id. at 298-300. She agreed and
asked him to choose between Remeron and Buspirone, and
Grothjan chose Remeron. Id.
Eichman considered the Swanson Center records, including the
diagnosis for bipolar disorder, but did not personally
observe the symptoms of bipolar disorder. ECF 104-2 at 6-7,
10. According to Dr. Eichman, bipolar disorder is
particularly difficult to diagnose because it may present
differently over time and its symptoms are similar to those
of other illnesses. Id. at 4. Grothjan requested
other anti-psychotic medications, but she found them
inappropriate because he did not appear to have symptoms of
psychosis or bipolar disorder. Id. at 6-7.
October 30, 2016, Grothjan submitted a report that he had not
received Remeron since October 23. ECF 104-3 at 525. He
submitted repeat requests on November 6 and November 13.
Id. at 522, 524. On November 7, a counselor met
Grothjan at his cell. Id. at 267. He complained
about his medication but refused an out-of-cell visit.
Id. On November 8, Grothjan submitted a request for
grief counseling due to his ailing grandfather, and a
counselor scheduled an appointment with him. Id. at
523. On November 16, Dr. Eichman noted that the Remeron
prescription had been erroneously discontinued and restarted
the prescription. Id. at 264. On November 17, a
counselor met with Grothjan at his cell and discussed his
grandfather. Id. at 262-63. On November 28, a
counselor again met with Grothjan at his cell because he told
correctional staff that he had the desire to hurt himself.
Id. at 255. However, Grothjan denied suicidal
ideation when the counselor arrived. Id.
December 6, 2016, Grothjan was moved to the general
population. Id. at 254. Three days later, Grothjan
received individual therapy in an out-of-cell setting.
Id. at 251-53. He reported harassment to a
counselor, and he was recommended for placement in the SNAP
unit. Id. On December 19, Grothjan told a counselor
that moving to the SNAP unit had improved his mental state
only slightly. Id. at ...