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Simmons v. Lewis

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Jackson Division

November 3, 2014

TYRONE LEWIS, ET AL., Defendants.


LINDA R. ANDERSON, Magistrate Judge.

This cause is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment [48] filed by Defendant Floyd Brown, Health Services Administrator, as well as the Motion for Summary Judgment [51] filed by Defendants Sheriff Tyrone Lewis, Captain Sean Goforth and Warden Phil Taylor. Having considered the entire record in this matter, the Court finds that Defendant Brown's motion is well-taken and should be granted; the motion filed by Defendants Goforth and Taylor is granted; and the motion filed by Defendant Lewis is denied.

I. Background

Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se in this litigation, brought this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging the conditions of his confinement.[1] Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that while he was housed at the Hinds County Detention Facility (HCDF) in Raymond, Mississippi, he was subjected to unconstitutional living conditions and denied medical care. [1].

The Court held an omnibus or Spears hearing in this matter on April 9, 2014, at which Plaintiff was afforded the opportunity to fully explain his claim.[2] At the hearing, all parties consented to the undersigned deciding this case in its entirety. [43]. 28 U.S.C. § 636. As the Court noted in its Omnibus Order [38], Plaintiff elaborated on his claims at the hearing:

According to Plaintiff, he was housed in conditions at HCDF which were hazardous to his health and violated his constitutional rights. The cells were dark; the floors were unsanitary; the showers were moldy and dirty and had no light fixtures; there were fire hazards everywhere; the food was unsanitary; there were security breaches. These conditions caused him to get an infection in his scalp. Dr. Sutton told him it was caused by the mold, and he has to use an antibacterial shampoo to treat it. He has no other physical injuries as a result of the conditions of his confinement.
Plaintiff also contends that his medical care was constitutionally insufficient. He complained of a hernia and made many medical requests. Defendant Floyd Brown told him it was not lifethreatening and refused him care. The hernia was diagnosed by Dr. Sutton and Dr. Tatum in August 2012, and both of those doctors requested that he be provided surgery. The jail officials, and Floyd Brown, refused to let him have it. The hernia worsened, and on Thanksgiving 2013, Dr. Sutton sent him to the emergency room because the hernia had caused an abscess in his testicles. A Catscan was taken on December 5, 2013, and surgery was performed. Prior to that, he was only given pain pills, nerve pills, Flexeril and Neurontin. According to Plaintiff, these were not the correct medications for his hernia. Defendant Floyd Brown was the health administrator and called the shots about who gets surgery. Plaintiff contends that Brown told him to take his medication and he would be okay. If Brown had done what the doctors said instead, Plaintiff asserts that he would not have gotten the abscess.

[38] at 2-3.

All Defendants have moved for summary judgment [48, 51] and the Court has considered the parties' filings, together with the entire record in this matter.

II. Standard of Review

"Summary judgment is appropriate if the moving party can show that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'" United States v. Renda Marine, Inc., 667 F.3d 651, 655 (5th Cir. 2012) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)). "A factual dispute is genuine' where a reasonable party would return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Chiu v. Plano Indep. Sch. Dist., 339 F.3d 273, 282 (5th Cir. 2003) (quoting Lukan v. North Forest Indep. Sch. Dist., 183 F.3d 342, 345 (5th Cir. 1999)). When considering a summary judgment motion, a court "must review all facts and evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." Juino v. Livingston Parish Fire Dist. No. 5, 717 F.3d 431, 433 (5th Cir. 2013). However, "[u]nsubstantiated assertions, improbable inferences, and unsupported speculation are not sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment." Brown v. City of Houston, 337 F.3d 539, 541 (5th Cir. 2003) (citing Bridgmon v. Array Sys. Corp., 325 F.3d 572, 577 (5th Cir. 2003); Hugh Symons Group, plc v. Motorola, Inc., 292 F.3d 466, 468 (5th Cir. 2002)).

III. Defendants Brown, Goforth and Taylor

Plaintiff claims that Defendants Brown, Goforth and Taylor denied him proper medical care for his hernia in violation of his constitutional rights. [1], [7]. As noted supra, Defendant Brown was the health services administrator at HCDF. Defendant Goforth was a captain at HCDF during Plaintiff's incarceration, and Defendant Taylor was the warden. [53-1] at 11-12. Plaintiff alleges that these Defendants knew he needed surgery for his hernia, and had he been operated on earlier, he would not have developed an abscess and now need another surgery. Though Plaintiff primarily blames Defendant Brown for the denial of medical care, Plaintiff also testified that he wrote both Defendant Goforth and Defendant Taylor regarding his need for surgery, but they did not act. [53-1] at 11-12.

Pretrial detainees, which is what Plaintiff was when he entered HCDF, have a Fourteenth Amendment right to medical care while incarcerated. See, e.g., Hare v. City of Corinth, 74 F.3d 633, 650 (5th Cir.1996). Where, as in this case, an alleged deprivation of this right is due to an episodic act or omission, the relevant inquiry is whether Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical need. Id. Plaintiff must show both that ...

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