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Smith v. Frye

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Western Division

June 17, 2015

KENDRICK DEWAYNE SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
SCOTT K. FRYE, ET AL., Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

MICHAEL T. PARKER, Magistrate Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment [49] filed by Defendant Dr. Charles Borum, the Motion for Summary Judgment [54] filed by Defendants Charles Mayfield and Captain Ed Tucker, and the Motion for Summary Judgment [58] filed by Defendant Scott Frye. After careful consideration of the motions, the submissions of the parties, and the applicable law, the Court finds that the Motions [49], [54] and [58] should be GRANTED and this matter be dismissed with prejudice.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Kendrick Dewayne Smith, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed the instant civil rights action on or about September 16, 2013.[1] Plaintiff is a post-conviction inmate currently incarcerated at Walnut Grove Correctional Facility. The alleged events giving rise to this lawsuit occurred while the Plaintiff was a pre-trial detainee housed at the Natchez City Jail ("NCJ") and in custody of the Adams County Jail ("ACJ"). Plaintiff's claims and his requested relief were clarified and amended through his sworn testimony at a Spears [2] hearing held on May 16, 2014.[3]

Plaintiff alleges claims of deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs in connection with the treatment of a gunshot wound and nerve damage. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that on June 24, 2011, following his arrest by law enforcement authorities, doctors at Natchez Regional Hospital ("NRH") treated him for a gunshot wound to his left shoulder and back. He alleges that he sustained injuries to his tendons and nerves in the affected area. Following his surgery, Plaintiff alleges that he was transferred to the University of Mississippi Medical Center ("UMMC") in Jackson. At UMMC, Plaintiff alleges that a neurologist prescribed him Endocet (a generic form of Percocet), and advised him and the officer escorting the Plaintiff that surgery was necessary to prevent nerve damage. However, the neurologist also stated that UMMC policy required a prisoner to exhaust all other state hospital options before he could perform the surgery.[4]

Natchez police officers transported Plaintiff from UMMC to the NCJ on June 26, 2011. According to the Plaintiff, he was in the custody of the Adam's County Sheriff's Department, but was held in the NCJ for the majority of the time that he was a pre-trial detainee. Plaintiff alleges that while he was held at the NCJ, a relative made arrangements for him to see Dr. Ibrahem Seki, a family physician. He alleges that Defendant Captain Frye, a Natchez police officer and captain of the city jail, escorted him to the appointment. Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Seki recommended to Captain Frye that he locate a doctor to perform surgery on the Plaintiff. Thereafter, Plaintiff alleges that Frye and Dr. Seki located a doctor in Vicksburg. The surgery, however, was never performed. Plaintiff alleges that his brother contacted the Adams County Sheriff's office regarding the surgery, but that the Sheriff's office informed him that a court order would be required.[5]

Plaintiff alleges that although he was housed at the NCJ, he received treatment at the ACJ. Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Charles Borum examined him on two occasions and prescribed him antianxiety medication. He alleges that he asked Dr. Borum for physical therapy because his medication was not working, but that Dr. Borum declined to prescribe additional treatment or medication. Plaintiff claims that Dr. Borum should have known that Plaintiff required further treatment and should have provided it.[6]

Finally, Plaintiff asserts claims against Adams County Sheriff Charles Mayfield and ACJ Captain Ed Tucker. Plaintiff claims that as individuals with supervisory responsibilities, Sheriff Mayfield and Captain Tucker should have provided him with adequate medical treatment. However, Plaintiff concedes that he never spoke or corresponded with Mayfield or Tucker regarding his treatment and does not know whether either of them were aware of his requests for treatment. Plaintiff also claims that Mayfield should not have implemented a policy that requires a court order to receive certain medical treatment.[7]

Plaintiff alleges that as a result of the inadequate medical treatment, he has suffered permanent nerve damage and pain. Plaintiff states that he has brought claims against the Defendants in their individual capacities. He requests compensatory and punitive damages in the amount of $300, 000.[8]

STANDARD

A motion for summary judgement will be granted 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, 37 F.3d at 1075 ((emphasis omitted). The nonmovant cannot survive a proper motion for summary judgment by resting on the allegations in his pleadings. Isquith v. Middle South Utilities, Inc., 847 F.2d 186, 199 (5th Cir. 1988); see also Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325-26. Instead, the nonmovant must present evidence sufficient to support a resolution of the factual issues in his favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986).

ANALYSIS

At the Spears hearing in this matter, Plaintiff indicated that he is suing the Defendants in their individual capacities.[9] In response, Defendants have raised the defense of qualified immunity. The United States Supreme Court has held that "government officials performing discretionary functions generally are shielded from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known." Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit "has repeatedly held that objective reasonableness in a qualified immunity context is a question of law for the court to decide, not an issue of fact." Atteberry v. Nocona Gen. Hosp., 430 F.3d 245, 256 (5th Cir. 2005); Williams v. Bramer, 180 F.3d 699, 703 (5th Cir. 1999); Mangieri v. Clifton, 29 F.3d 1012, 1016 (5th Cir. 1994). Courts evaluating Section 1983 claims should conduct a two-prong inquiry to determine whether defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. First, "whether a constitutional right would have been violated on the facts alleged, " and second, "whether the right was clearly established. Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 14, 200 (2001)). In Pearson v. Callahan, the United States Supreme Court held that while the sequence of analysis set forth in Saucier "is often appropriate, it should no longer be regarded as mandatory." 555 U.S. 223, 236 (2009). Thus, the Court is permitted to exercise its discretion in deciding which of the two prongs of the qualified immunity analysis should be addressed first. Id.

Once the defendant invokes qualified immunity, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to demonstrate the inapplicability of the defense. McClendon, 305 F.3d at 323. "The defendant official must initially plead his good faith and establish that he was acting within the scope of his discretionary authority." Salas v. Carpenter, 980 F.2d 299, 306 (5th Cir. 1992). Because Defendants have raised the defense of qualified immunity in their motions for summary judgment, Plaintiff "can no longer rest on the pleadings... and the court looks to the evidence before it (in the light most favorable to the plaintiff) when conducting the [qualified immunity analysis]." McClendon, 305 F.3d at 323 (quoting Behrens v. Pelletier, 516 U.S. 299, 309 (1996)). Accordingly, this Court must examine the summary judgment record and determine whether Plaintiff has adduced sufficient evidence to raise a genuine issue of material fact suggesting that Defendants' conduct violated an actual constitutional right for each claim, and whether their conduct was objectively unreasonable in light of clearly established law. McClendon, 305 F.3d at 323.

Deliberate Indifference to Medical Needs

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Dr. Charles Borum, a physician at the ACJ, and Captain Scott Frye, an administrator at the NCJ, were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. First, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Borum denied his requests for additional medication and physical therapy. Second, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Frye failed ...


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