Melvin James Jackson v. Warden Don Jackson ( 2012 )

  •                                                        [DO NOT PUBLISH]
                         FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT         FILED
                        _____________________________ COURT OF APPEALS
                                                      ELEVENTH CIRCUIT
                                                         JAN 31, 2012
                                 No. 10-14473
                                                          JOHN LEY
                     D. C. Docket No. 5:08-cv-00011-WTM-JEG
    JUDY L. EDGY, P.A.,
                     Appeal from the United States District Court
                        for the Southern District of Georgia
                                (January 31, 2012)
    Before TJOFLAT, EDMONDSON, and FAY, Circuit Judges.
            Melvin James Jackson, a Georgia prisoner proceeding pro se, appeals the
    dismissal of his civil rights action, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The district court granted
    summary judgment in favor of Defendants Warden Donald Jackson, Dr. Charles
    Harden, and Nurse Judy Edgy, all of whom were prison employees. No reversible
    error has been shown; we affirm.
            In his section 1983 complaint, Jackson alleged that he received inadequate
    medical care for his hernia in violation of the Eighth Amendment. He claimed that
    Defendants delayed necessary surgery on his hernia and that absent surgery, he
    was at risk for internal bleeding, intestinal obstruction, gangrene, and death.* The
    district court, adopting the magistrate judge’s report and recommendation, granted
    summary judgment to Defendants because Jackson failed to demonstrate that he
    had a serious medical need or that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to that
    serious medical need.
            On appeal, Jackson argues that he should have received hernia surgery
    earlier than he did. We review de novo a district court’s grant of summary
    judgment and apply “the same legal standards applied by the district court.”
         The district court initially dismissed Jackson’s complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g),
    concluding that he was ineligible to proceed in forma pauperis. We vacated on appeal, determining
    that Jackson met an exception to section 1915(g)’s three-strikes rule because -- accepting his
    allegations as true -- he faced an imminent danger of serious physical injury when he filed suit. On
    remand, the district court permitted Jackson to proceed with his complaint.
    Hickson Corp. v. N. Crossarm Co., 
    357 F.3d 1256
    , 1259 (11th Cir. 2004). In
    addition, we liberally construe pro se pleadings. See Tannenbaum v. United
    148 F.3d 1262
    , 1263 (11th Cir. 1998).
          To show deliberate indifference to a serious medical need, a plaintiff must
    demonstrate three components: (1) the defendant’s subjective knowledge of the
    risk of serious harm; (2) the defendant’s disregard of that risk; and (3) that the
    defendant’s conduct rose to more than mere negligence. Farrow v. West, 
    320 F.3d 1235
    , 1245 (11th Cir. 2003). A medical need may be considered serious if a delay
    in treating it makes it worse. Mann v. Taser Int’l, Inc., 
    588 F.3d 1291
    , 1307 (11th
    Cir. 2010). For medical treatment to rise to the level of a constitutional violation,
    the care must be “so grossly incompetent, inadequate, or excessive as to shock the
    conscience or to be intolerable to fundamental fairness.” Harris v. Thigpen, 
    941 F.2d 1495
    , 1505 (11th Cir. 1991).
          We conclude that the district court properly granted summary judgment to
    Defendants. Evidence showed that Jackson received treatment for his hernia
    symptoms, including receiving pain medication and a hernia truss. That Jackson
    failed to comply with his prescribed course of treatment by not wearing the truss is
    also evident. Dr. Harden met with Jackson at least three times and determined that
    Jackson’s hernia was non-strangulated and posed no risk. Because it is common
    medical practice to postpone surgery until a hernia becomes strangulated, Dr.
    Harden considered Jackson’s surgery elective and submitted a request for elective
    surgery to the prison’s Utilization Committee. Jackson’s request was approved,
    and he received hernia surgery about six months after his initial complaint to
    prison staff. When his surgery was performed, Jackson’s hernia remained
          The care Jackson received was adequate and certainly not “so grossly
    incompetent, inadequate, or excessive as to shock the conscience or to be
    intolerable to fundamental fairness.” See Harris, 941 F.2d at 1505. The delay in
    receiving surgery was because the hernia remained treatable without surgery and
    posed no risk to Jackson’s health. Moreover, the delay did not worsen Jackson’s
    condition. See Mann, 588 F.3d at 1307. That Jackson felt he should have had
    surgery earlier than he did is insufficient to support a deliberate indifference claim.
    See Adams v. Poag, 
    61 F.3d 1537
    , 1545 (11th Cir. 1995) (whether defendants
    “should have employed additional diagnostic techniques or forms of treatment ‘is
    a classic example of a matter for medical judgment’ and therefore not an
    appropriate basis for grounding” constitutional liability); Harris, 941 F.2d at 1505
    (explaining that a difference in medical opinion between the prison’s medical staff
    and the inmate about the inmate’s course of treatment will not support a claim of
    cruel and unusual punishment).
          Construing the facts in the light most favorable to Jackson, the record does
    not demonstrate that Defendants’ conduct amounted to a constitutional violation.
    The district court correctly granted summary judgment to Defendants.