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Carter v. Koprivnikar

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 22, 2018

JOSEPH CARTER, Plaintiff,
v.
JOAN KOPRIVNIKAR, M.D., Defendant.

          ORDER

          Kristen L. Mix, United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [#90][1] (the “Motion”). Plaintiff, who proceeds in this matter pro se, [2] filed a Response [#94], and Defendant filed a Reply [#102]. The Court has reviewed the Motion, Response, Reply, the entire docket, and the applicable law, and is sufficiently advised in the premises. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion [#90] is GRANTED.[3]

         I. Background

         A. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff is an inmate in the custody of the Colorado Department of Corrections (“CDOC”) at Centennial Correctional Facility in Canon City, Colorado. Plaintiff filed this civil action on March 2, 2015. Compl. [#1]. Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint on March 20, 2015. Am. Compl. [#7]. In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff appears to assert one claim: “Use of Involuntary Medication to Commit Corporal Punishment in Direct Violation of [Eighth] Amendment Prohibitions of Such.” Id. at 4-5. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Joan Koprivnikar (“Defendant”), a psychiatrist, violated his constitutional rights by recommending that Plaintiff be involuntarily medicated.[4] Id. at 10-17.

         On July 6, 2015, Defendant filed a motion seeking dismissal of Plaintiff's claim. Motion to Dismiss and/or for Summary Judgment [#16]. On consideration of that motion, the Court ultimately construed the Amended Complaint [#7] as asserting three claims: an Eighth Amendment excessive force claim, and substantive and procedural due process claims arising pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment. Order [#29]. The Court dismissed with prejudice the Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process claim and the Eighth Amendment claim. Id. at 20. The Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process claim is the sole issue that remains for adjudication. Id.

         On March 3, 2017, Defendant filed the present Motion [#90] seeking entry of judgment in her favor on Plaintiff's remaining claim.[5] In support of the Motion [#90], Defendant has attached her own affidavit, the applicable version of the CDOC regulation regarding administration of involuntary medication, and various records related to Plaintiff's mental health history. See Affidavit of Dr. Joan Koprivnikar (“Affidavit of Dr. Koprivnikar”) [#90-1]; [#90-1 through #90-6]. Plaintiff has not attached evidence to his Response, and instead relies on documentation previously filed by him or by Defendant in this matter.[6]

         B. Factual Summary[7]

         Defendant is employed by CDOC as a staff psychiatrist. Motion [#90] at 3. Her responsibilities include evaluating inmates for signs and symptoms of mental illness, diagnosing mental disorders, treating inmates with psychotropic medications when appropriate, and evaluating any side effects. Id. She also makes recommendations for involuntary medication to inmates who pose a risk of harm to themselves or others, or are gravely disabled. Id. CDOC's Administrative Regulations outline the procedures and responsibilities for administration of involuntary medications to inmates. Id.

         Plaintiff was screened for mental health needs when he arrived at CDOC in 2012. Id. at 9. According to clinical notes taken by Dr. Jonathan Rosman, Plaintiff was refusing all medications at that time and denied that he had any mental health issues. Id. at 10. Dr. Rosman diagnosed Plaintiff with “Depressive Disorder, NOS with possible psychotic features. Rule out Bipolar disorder. Rule out schizoaffective disorder. . . . He holds onto a fringe belief system, and may well be paranoid and delusional, but may also be merely eccentric.” Id.

         Plaintiff was referred to the San Carlos Correctional Facility (“SCCF”) for diagnostic clarification, and was seen by Defendant on July 2, 2012. Id. at 10-11. Defendant noted, “r/o Delusional disorder, but to me presents much more as a weak personality (narcissistic traits) that has gotten involved in a likely small time anti-government group - feels important in it, feels he's a ‘soldier' for the cause . . . will continue to watch.” Id. at 11. Plaintiff was refusing medications and did not meet criteria for involuntary medications. Id.

         Plaintiff was transferred to two other facilities over the next several months, and returned to SCCF by March 18, 2013. Id. at 11. Defendant's assessment at that time was, “r/o Delusional Disorder and Paranoid Personality (I see no evidence of borderline personality) vs. psychotic spectrum disorder such as schiz.” Id. at 12. Several months later, on August 6, 2013, Defendant noted, “was thinking paranoid Pd, but thinking more than that now. Delusional d/o vs chronic, psychotic spectrum d/o - Schiz. IM demands to know why I think this, discuss the very nature of the disorders will likely prevent him from seeing what I'm seeing. IM says he's going to talk to his attorney about my opinion.” Id. Defendant suggested antipsychotic medications, and Plaintiff refused. Id.

         On January 7, 2014, Defendant saw Plaintiff after he had left a hearing. Id. at 13. Plaintiff said that he was going to “bang his head” and proceeded to do that. Id. Defendant noted that Plaintiff was

extremely angry in the conf room, spouting what he claims are laws and violations of his rights. First he said he banged his head so he could go to court and say the officers beat him up, then says it's so he can sue us when we further violate his rights. Then says it's because he can. IM ult says he'll bang his head to force us to put him in restraints, then, in restraints he won't have access to his legal mail/work so then he can sue us for not allowing him legal access. He yells at me, ‘if I could I would beat the fucking shit out of you.' Also threatens the officers. Tells the Capt that when he gets OOP that he will strap on an IED and kill us all. Im paranoid and delusional, thought disorder. IM tells Pam King that he's going to continue to bang his head and also throw his body around the room to hurt himself further (this is before I arrive), then tells me he's not going to bang his head but is not going to eat for 1-2 weeks.

Id. at 13-14. By February 2014, Defendant determined that Plaintiff's mental health appeared gravely compromised and that he posed a risk of harm to himself or others. Id. Emergency medications were administered and Plaintiff was scheduled for an involuntary medication hearing before the Involuntary Medication Hearing Committee (the “Committee”). Id.

         Defendant prepared a report in advance of the hearing regarding Plaintiff's mental health history, and provided a list of recommended medications. I d . at 14-15; see also Feb. 20, 2014 Report [#90-3] at 10-15. Defendant opined that if Plaintiff remained unmedicated, he would continue to decompensate and likely either harm himself or another person. Motion [#90] at 15. Defendant also noted that “all symptoms of mental illness evidently remitted at CMHIP [Plaintiff's previous facility] while he was taking an antipsychotic medication, ” but court-ordered medication was ceased after Plaintiff was found guilty of his crime. Id. She stated that Plaintiff likely “is an individual who decompensates slowly once off antipsychotic medications, ” which is why he did not appear to need them when he first arrived at CDOC. She further noted that Plaintiff “does not recognize that he has a ...


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