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Smith v. Bounds

United States District Court, Fifth Circuit

September 4, 2013

ALBERT E. BOUNDS, ET AL, Defendants.


LINDA R. ANDERSON, Magistrate Judge.

THIS CAUSE is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Katy Minor[1] and the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Ben Blaine, Albert E. Bounds, the Rankin County Sheriff's Department, and Johnthan Slawson.[2] The Court has considered all the pleadings and exhibits, Plaintiff Torey Cortez Smith's sworn testimony given at the omnibus hearing, his medical records, [3] and the applicable law. This review compels the Court to find that the motions are meritorious and should be granted.

1. Facts[4]

Jurisdiction of this case is based upon 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. Plaintiff was incarcerated in the Rankin County Jail as a pretrial detainee beginning October 25, 2011, and he was still in that facility as of February 23, 2012. He has since been released. He was housed on lockdown beginning November 28, 2011, until December 28, 2011. The records indicate he was involved in jail incidents on his first day in lockdown and on his last day. Plaintiff contends the incident which spurred this lawsuit occurred December 27, 2011.

According to Plaintiff, on December 27, 2011, Defendant Bounds came into the housing unit and slapped him, dragged him out of the unit, and put him in another cell. Plaintiff asked for medical care but Bounds refused it. Another officer came and took him to the medical unit, where Defendant Minor and a few other nurses were working. Plaintiff contends that Defendant Minor just "brushed it off" when he told her about the bruise on his face and gave him no treatment.

Plaintiff conceded that Bounds's slap was prompted by Plaintiff attempting to commit suicide by putting a large number of pills in his mouth. Further, his only injuries were scratches on his face due to Bounds's watch scratching him in the incident. He put cocoa butter on the scratches and they are healed; he has no permanent injuries from the incident except depression.

Plaintiff contends that later that night, other officers came to his isolation cell. Defendant Blaine pushed him, took his property, and would not let him go to medical. Defendant Slawson participated in this incident and punched him while he was cuffed. Lt. Van Horn pushed Slawson off Plaintiff; Plaintiff testified that he had no broken bones or other serious physical injuries due to this incident. Plaintiff also charged that Defendant Blaine would not investigate his grievances.

Defendants presented Plaintiff's jail records which confirm that the only incident which occurred at the jail around the date in question happened at 7:50 a.m. on December 28, 2011, when Plaintiff began beating on his cell door and pulling on the lights in his cell. He was ordered to stop and refused to do so. According to the records, Officers King, Gailey, Vanhorn, Kirley, Cooper, along with Defendant Blaine, entered Plaintiff's cell. They restrained him for 10 minutes and released him when he promised to stop tearing up his cell.

2. Summary Judgment Standard

Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides, in relevant part, that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). The United States Supreme Court has held that this language "mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a sufficient showing to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The substantive law establishes those elements on which a plaintiff bears the burden of proof at trial; only facts relevant to those elements of proof are considered for summary judgment purposes. Id. at 322. There is a genuine factual dispute between the parties only "when a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

3. Legal Analysis

A. Defendant Minor

The Eighth Amendment does prohibit conduct which evinces deliberate indifference to a serious medical need by its ban on cruel and unusual punishment; this standard also applies to pretrial detainees. Hare v. City of Corinth, MS, on rehearing en banc, 74 F.3d 633, 644-646 (5th Cir. 1996), appeal on remand, 35 F.3d 320 (5th Cir. 1998). Because Smith was a pretrial detainee during the time he was held in the Rankin County Jail, the Court has reviewed his claim under the Fourteenth Amendment. Mayfeather v. Foti, 958 F.2d 91 (5th Cir. 1992); Cupit v. Jones, 835 F.2d 82 (5th Cir. 1987). "[P]retrial detainees are entitled to reasonable medical care unless the failure to supply that care is reasonably related to a legitimate governmental objective." Cupit, 835 F.2d at 85.

The medical care received by a pretrial detainee may be deemed objectively unreasonable where jail officials act "with subjective deliberate indifference to the detainee's rights." Nerren v. Livingston Police Dep't., 86 F.3d 469, 473 (5th Cir. 1996). Nerren defined "subjective deliberate indifference" as subjective knowledge of a ...

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