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Eget v. Corrections Corp. of America

United States District Court, D. Colorado

January 17, 2018

ANTHONY EGET, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, a Maryland corporation; CORRECTIONAL HEALTH PARTNERS, a Colorado limited liability company; Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Richard P. Matsch, Senior District Judge

         On February 11, 2014, Anthony Eget complained to the staff of the Adams County jail that he had pain in his right wrist from tight handcuffs on him during a court appearance earlier that day. He was scheduled to see a hand specialist on March 24, 2014. That did not happen because he was transferred to the Crowley County Correctional Facility (CCCF) on that day. The CCCF is managed and operated by Correction Corporation of America (CCA) under contracts with the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) and Crowley County. CCA is responsible for the medical care of the inmates and has a medical staff at the institution, including a nurse practitioner, Lynne Cappellucci and a medical doctor, Susan Tiona, M.D.

         The CDOC has a contract with Correctional Health Partners, LLC (CHP) to review pre-authorization requests for inmates seeking medical care outside of the prison system. CHP acts as an administrator to evaluate the basis for and to determine the clinical medical necessity of requests for inmates to be evaluated or treated by health care providers outside CDOC's internal medical system.

         On April 11, 2014, Eget reported to nurse practitioner Cappellucci that he had numbness in the fourth and fifth fingers of his right hand and could not use the hand even to brush his teeth. The nurse assessed him as having a possible tendon injury and right ulnar nerve “decreased sensate.” She requested CHP to refer him to Charles Kessler, M.D., a plastic and reconstruction surgeon. That request was denied as not medically necessary by Stephen Krebs, M.D., a physician employed by CHP in April.

         Another request was sent by Cappellucci on June 4, 2014, for an outside nerve study, electromyogram (EMG) as a result of a new objective finding of an indentation between the thumb and index finger. CHP approved that request on June 17, 2014.

         On August 13, 2014, Ashakiran Sunku, M.D., performed the nerve study. The result was a finding of severe right ulnar neuropathy across the right elbow and median neuropathies (moderate right, mild left) at the wrists (carpal tunnel syndrome).

         On September 2, 2014, Cappellucci reviewed the EMG results with Eget and on September 5 she requested CHP approval for referral to an outside neurology specialist for a consultation.

         CHP approved that request on September 26, 2014. Through some error Eget was scheduled for a second EMG rather than a consultation with a specialist. Dr. Gary Cohen did a second EMG on November 13, 2014, finding a near total loss of right ulnar motor and sensory nerves at the right wrist.

         On December 5, 2014, Dr. Susan Tiona, a physician at CCCF, submitted an urgent-priority pre-authorization request to CHP for referral to Dr. Kessler for a consultation to see if any surgical intervention could help Eget. CHP approved the request on December 8.

         Dr. Kessler saw Eget on December 22, 2014. Eget said he began to notice progressive loss of strength in his right hand in June 2014 and believed that his injury began with the February 11, 2014, handcuffing incident.

         A request from Dr. Kessler for CHP approval for surgery on the right wrist was submitted on December 22, 2014, and approved on January 6, 2015.

         Dr. Kessler performed neuroplasty decompression surgery of Eget's ulnar nerve at the right wrist and right carpal tunnel release on January 28, 2015.

         Dr. Kessler saw Eget for a post-operative visit on February 17, 2015, and found near normal active and passive range of motion of the right hand. He reported that Eget stated he still had weakness in the right hand, but the symptoms of tingling and numbness in the right-hand ring and little finger had resolved.

         Eget filed this civil action for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 asserting a violation of the Eighth Amendment's protection from cruel and unusual punishment by the failure to provide prompt medical care in reckless disregard of ...


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