United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT
SHARION AYCOCK, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Lee Darnell, a Mississippi inmate proceeding pro se
and in forma pauperis in this action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, alleges that he was denied medical care by
Detention Supervisor Barry Stanford, Nurse Sara
Rickit, and Jail Administrator Richard T. Jones
(“Defendants”) while housed at the Lowndes County
Adult Detention Center. Defendants have moved for summary
judgment, and Darnell has responded. Having reviewed the
submissions and arguments of the parties, as well as the
applicable law, the Court finds that Defendants' motion
should be granted.
judgment is proper only when the pleadings and evidence,
viewed in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party,
illustrate that no genuine issue of material fact exists and
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a) &(c); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). A fact is deemed
“material” if “its resolution in favor of
one party might affect the outcome of the lawsuit under
governing law.” Sossamon v. Lone Star State of
Tex., 560 F.3d 316, 326 (5th Cir. 2009) (quotation
omitted). Once the motion is properly supported with
competent evidence, the nonmovant must show that summary
judgment is inappropriate. Morris v. Covan World Wide
Moving, Inc., 144 F.3d 377, 380 (5th Cir. 1998); see
also Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The nonmovant cannot rely
upon “conclusory allegations, speculation, and
unsubstantiated assertions” to satisfy his burden, but
rather, must set forth specific facts showing the existence
of a genuine issue as to every essential element of his
claim. Ramsey v. Henderson, 286 F.3d 264, 269 (5th
Cir. 2002) (citation omitted); Morris, 144 F.3d at
380. If the “evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmoving party, ” then
there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). If no proof is presented, however, the Court does not
assume that the nonmovant “could or would prove the
necessary facts.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp.,
37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994).
Darnell had a right-eye corneal transplant at the Cincinnati
Eye Institute on October 3, 2014, prior to his incarceration
in this case. See Doc. #69 at 2-4; Doc. #67-6 at 82;
see also Doc. #19 at 1:55-2:22. Darnell claims that
he was scheduled to have stitches removed from his eye on
February 3, 2015. By that time, however, he had been arrested
and was in the custody of the Lowndes County Adult Detention
Center (“Lowndes County”). He claims that a nurse
at Lowndes County, Nurse Rickit, refused to allow him to see
a physician to have the sutures removed. See Id. at
7. Darnell filed a grievance about the alleged denial of
medical care to Detention Supervisor Barry Stanford, who
responded in writing that medical providers had advised him
that the stitches had been in Darnell's eye too long to
be removed safely. Id.
claims that he had to have two subsequent surgeries on his
right eye because his stitches were not removed on schedule.
He alleges that the first, on May 4, 2015, was a stent that
blinded him in his right eye, and the other was a surgery on
June 11, 2015, to repair his retina. Darnell maintains that
he might have retained eyesight in his right eye if he had
been provided the necessary medical attention in a timely
indifference to an inmate's serious medical needs
violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel
and unusual punishment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S.
97, 103-04 (1978). The test for establishing deliberate
indifference is “one of subjective recklessness as used
in the criminal law.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511
U.S. 825, 839 (1994). In order to state a claim under §
1983 for deliberate indifference to an inmate's medical
condition, the inmate must demonstrate that the prison
official (1) knew that the inmate faced a substantial risk of
serious harm; and (2) disregarded that risk by failing to
take reasonable measures to abate it. Farmer, 511
U.S. at 847.
constitutional standard of “deliberate
indifference” is a demanding one, and negligent conduct
by a prison official does not give rise to a constitutional
violation. Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327 (1986);
Oliver v. Collins, 914 F.2d 56, 60 (5th Cir. 1990).
Rather, liability under the deliberate indifference standard
requires the plaintiff to produce evidence Athat prison
officials 'refused to treat him, ignored his complaints,
intentionally treated him incorrectly, or engaged in any
other similar conduct that would clearly evince a wanton
disregard for any serious medical needs.'"
Davidson v. Tex. Dept. of Crim. J., 91 F.App'x
963, 965 (5th Cir. 2004) (citation omitted); see also
Gobert v. Caldwell, 463 F.3d 339, 346 (5th Cir. 2006)
(holding deliberate indifference requires inmate to show
prison officials engaged in conduct that “clearly
evince[s] a wanton disregard for any serious medical
Lee Darnell has been housed at the Lowndes County Adult
Detention Center (“Lowndes County”) on several
occasions since July 2008. See, e.g., Doc. #67-2 at
3-5. The information he provided for the “Booking
Medical Sheet” during each stay at the facility
demonstrates that he experienced problems with his right eye
years before his corneal transplant in October of 2014. For
instance, during a June 22, 2009, booking, he reported that
he had undergone surgery on his right eye the previous Monday
and stated that he had a corneal transplant in his right eye.
Doc. #67-3 at 57-58. During an August 4, 2010, booking,
Darnell reported that he was blind in his right eye.
Id. at 55-56. On May 9, 2011, Darnell reported that
his right eye had been hurting. Id. at 51-52. On
November 16, 11, Darnell reported to a Lowndes County booking
official that he was blind in his right eye. Id. at
47-48. During a booking on May 15, 2012, Darnell reported
“issues” with his right eye, noting that he had
been medically treated approximately a month prior for his
eye condition and had been prescribed eye drops. Id.
at 43-44. On March 22, 2014, Darnell reported that he was
blind in his right eye and stated that he had undergone brain
surgery in 1998. Id. at 41-42. On April 1, 2014, he
reported a prior transplant in his right eye and stated that
he had a “plate” in his right eye. Id.
at 39-40. The fact of Darnell's prior transplant is
confirmed in his Mississippi Department of Corrections
(“MDOC”) medical history, which notes that his
October 2014 procedure was a second corneal transplant.
See Doc. #67-6 at 115; see also, e.g., Id.
at 8, 28, 35, 48, 63, and 82.
was housed at Lowndes County for the first time following his
2014 corneal transplant from November 19, 2014, until
December 2, 2014. See Doc. #67-2 at 5. As part of
the “Booking Medical Sheet” that was created on
November 19, 2014, Darnell reported that he had seen a
physician the prior week for a surgery follow-up, noting that
his “[r]ight eye is damaged” and that he uses eye
drops for his eye condition. See Doc. #67-3 at 38.
Darnell was later transferred to an MDOC facility where on
December 21, 2014, his eye medications were updated and a
specialty consult to follow-up on Darnell's corneal
transplant was ordered. See Doc. #67-6 at 107. A
specialty optometry consult occurred on December 30, 2014,
and the physician ordered that Darnell receive pred
forte drops to his right eye and provided
Darnell with a bottle of the medication. See Doc.
#67-6 at 114-15; 118. Darnell remained in an MDOC facility
until his transport to Lowndes County on January 29, 2015.
See Doc. #67-6 at 129-30; see also Doc.
#67-3 at 3.
was again housed in Lowndes County for a temporary forty-one
day return for court beginning January 29, 2015. See
Doc. #62-1; Doc. #67-3 at 5. Immediately prior to his
transfer to Lowndes County, Darnell's medications were
refilled and he reported no new medical problems or injuries.
Doc. #67-6 at 128-130. ...