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Harris v. Mayfield

United States District Court, Southern District of Mississippi, Western Division

March 12, 2015

JEROME KENDRELL HARRIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHUCK MAYFIELD, et al., DEFENDANTS

OPINION AND ORDER

Michael T. Parker, United States Magistrate Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment [26] filed by Defendant Leah Pounders and the Motion for Summary Judgment [29] filed by Defendants Gerald Cornwell, Chuck Mayfield and Ed Tucker. After careful consideration of the submissions of the parties and the applicable law, the Court finds that the Motions [26] and [29] should be granted, and that this matter should be dismissed with prejudice.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Jerome Harris, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed the instant civil rights action on or about July 15, 2013, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] Although Harris is no longer incarcerated, at the time of the events giving rise to this lawsuit, he was a pre-trial detainee at the Adams County Jail (“ACJ”). His claims and requested relief were clarified and amended through his sworn testimony at a Spears[2] hearing held on May 15, 2014.[3]

Harris claims that he was denied adequate medical care in while incarcerated at ACJ. Specifically, Harris alleges that he has a dangerous blood clotting disorder and that prior to his arrest, he was taking a blood thinner, Coumadin, to treat his condition. Upon arrival at ACJ on February 26, 2013, Harris alleges that his right leg began to swell and become painful as a result of his disorder. He claims that he informed Defendant Gerald Cornell, a ACJ employee, about his condition and requested to be sent to the hospital. Harris claims that he was instead sent to the ACJ nurse, Defendant Leah Pounders.[4]

Harris alleges that Nurse Pounders met with him and informed him that a nurse from the hospital would examine him, but the hospital nurse never arrived. He claims that each time he submitted a sick call request he was sent to Nurse Pounders. According to Harris, Nurse Pounders recommended that he drink plenty of water and rest his leg. Essentially, Harris alleges that he should have been examined by a doctor or sent to the hospital instead of being examined by Nurse Pounders. However, Harris states that he continued to take Coumadin while he was detained at ACJ.

Harris also alleges that he spoke with Captain Ed Tucker, the administrator of ACJ, on several occasions. He alleges that Tucker mostly sent him to Nurse Pounders, but that on one occasion Tucker sent him to the hospital. Harris alleges that he was sent to the hospital on two or three occasions, but that each time he should have been sent to the hospital more quickly.

Finally, Harris names Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield as a defendant. He claims that Mayfield had supervisory responsibilities over the prison and should have provided him with adequate care. Harris admits that he never spoke or corresponded with Sheriff Mayfield regarding his medical care.[5]

Harris alleges that his leg continues to be swollen as a result of the inadequate medical care he received at ACJ. He states that he is suing Defendants in their individual capacities and seeks $2.5 million dollars in damages.[6]

STANDARD

A motion for summary judgement will be granted only when “the record indicates that there is ‘no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.’” Causey v. Sewell Cadillac-Chevrolet, Inc., 394 F.3d 285, 288 (5th Cir. 2004) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)). The court must view “the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Id. However, the nonmoving party “cannot defeat summary judgment with conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or ‘only a scintilla of evidence.’” Turner v. Baylor Richardson Medical Center, 476 F.3d 337, 343 (5th Cir. 2007) (quoting Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994)). In the absence of proof, the Court does not “assume that the nonmoving party could or would prove the necessary facts.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (emphasis omitted).

ANALYSIS

Deliberate Indifference

A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment when he acts with deliberate indifference to a prisoner’s serious medical needs. Domino v. Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice, 239 F.3d 752, 754 (5th Cir. 2001). Although Harris was a pre-trail detainee as opposed to a post-conviction inmate at the time of the alleged events, the analysis of his medical claims are governed by the “deliberate indifference” standard. See Hare v. City of Corinth, 74 F.3d 633, 648 (5th Cir. 1996). A plaintiff must meet an “extremely high” standard to show deliberate indifference. Gobert v. Caldwell, 463 F.3d 339, 346 (5th Cir. 2006) (quotations omitted). For a prison official to be liable for deliberate indifference, the plaintiff must show that “the official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; ...


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