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Edmundson v. Kirkegard

United States District Court, D. Montana, Helena Division

February 24, 2015



JOHN JOHNSTON, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Rodney Edmundson has filed a Complaint alleging Defendants retaliated against him, denied him due process, were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs, imposed cruel and unusual punishment, and negligently treated his medical needs. (Complaint, Doc. 2 at 6.) He has also filed a Motion to Add Defendant seeking to bring a retaliation claim against Sgt. Michael Hotchkiss. (Doc. 7.)

Mr. Edmundson's due process claims against Warden Kirkegard, Healthcare Supervisor Cathy, and Jane LaMoure for failing to adequately respond to his grievance appeals fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The defects with these claims could not be cured by the allegation of additional facts. These claims and the Defendants named therein should therefore be dismissed.

Nurse Hanna will be required to respond to Mr. Edmundson's state and federal medical care claims. Sgt. Graham will be required to respond to Mr. Edmundson's retaliation claim.

The Court will grant Mr. Edmundson's Motion to Add Defendant (Doc. 7), and Sgt. Hotchkiss will be required to respond to Mr. Edmundson's retaliation claim.


A. Jurisdiction

Mr. Edmundson filed this action in federal court, in the Helena Division of the District of Montana. (Complaint, Doc. 2.) Venue is proper, as he is incarcerated in and alleges wrongs committed in Powell County, Montana. Local Rule 3.2(b)(3). The Court has personal jurisdiction over the parties, all of whom are found in Montana. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(1)(A); Mont. R. Civ. P. 4(b). Read liberally, the Complaint alleges a violation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, invoking subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 28 U.S.C. § 1343(a). The case was assigned to Hon. Dana Christensen, Chief United States District Court Judge, and referred to the undersigned. Local Rule 72.2(a)(1); Doc. 8.

B. Parties

Mr. Edmundson is a prisoner who was incarcerated at Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge, Montana, at all times relevant to the allegations in the Complaint. According to Mr. Edmundson's December 5, 2014 Notice of Change of Address (Doc. 6), he has been granted Interstate Compact Parole to his home in Indiana. He is proceeding in forma pauperis and without counsel.

Mr. Edmundson named the following Defendants in his Complaint: Leroy Kirkegard, Warden at Montana State Prison; Sgt. A. Graham, a correctional guard at Montana State Prison; Jane LaMoure, an Executive Assistant at the Montana Department of Corrections; Cathy (last name unknown), the Healthcare Supervisor at Montana State Prison; and Alishia Hanna, a Registered Nurse at Montana State Prison. (Complaint, Doc. 2 at 5).

Mr. Edmundson names seeks to add Sgt. Michael Hotchkiss, a Correctional Guard for Montana State Prison, as a Defendant in his Motion to Add Defendant. (Doc. 7.)

C. Allegations in Complaint

1. Denial of Medical Care

Mr. Edmundson alleges that Nurse Alishia Hanna was negligent and deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs because she discontinued his pain and muscle spasm medications. He alleges the prison doctors prescribed these medications on three separate occasions. (Complaint, Doc. 2-1 at 3.) Specifically, he alleges that he was prescribed Robaxin and Prednisone on September 24, 2013. Mr. Edmundson was supposed to take the medications over a ten-day period, but Nurse Hanna discontinued the medications after only seven days. Similarly, he alleges that Dr. Piranian prescribed Robaxin and Prednisone on October 20, 2013. Again, the medications were to be taken for ten days, but Nurse Hanna stopped giving him the medication after six days for a non-medical reason. Lastly, on November 12, 2013, Mr. Edmundson was prescribed Robaxin, Prednisone, and CarBamazepine for ten days, but Nurse Hanna discontinued the medications after five days for an allegedly non-medical reason. (Complaint, Doc. 2-1 at 3-5.)

On February 5, 2014, Defendant Healthcare Supervisor Cathy responded to Mr. Edmundson's grievance appeal to the Warden and denied the appeal stating that the "Physician's Order was not present." Mr. Edmundson alleges this event put Healthcare Supervisor Cathy on notice of the serious risk to Mr. Edmundson. (Complaint, Doc. 2-1 at 5-6.) He also alleges that on or about February 26, 2014, Jane LaMoure violated his right to due process when she refused to process his appeal to the Corrections Division by simply stating it violated Department of Corrections Policy 3.3.3. He alleges this was done to chill his constitutionally protected activity. (Complaint, Doc. 2-1 at 6.)

2. Retaliation

Mr. Edmundson also brings a First Amendment retaliation claim against Sgt. Graham and Sgt. Hotchkiss. He alleges in his Complaint that Sgt. Graham issued a minor disciplinary infraction report against Mr. Edmundson for removing two cookies from his food service work assignment. Mr. Edmundson was removed from that work assignment. On September 4, 2013, the disciplinary sanction was lowered to a warning, and Mr. Edmundson's food service work assignment was reinstated.

Mr. Edmundson alleges Sgt. Graham was not happy with the result of the disciplinary write-up and began a personal vendetta against Mr. Edmundson. He alleges that even though cell searches are normally done by "ordinary correctional officers, " on November 4, 2013, Sgt. Graham personally searched his cell and confiscated and damaged some of his property. Sgt. Graham then gave Mr. Edmundson a disciplinary write-up for being in possession of a "loaner television, " for destroying or altering facility property, for lying to a ...

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