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McCray v. MDOC

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

June 13, 2017




         This matter comes before the court on the pro se prisoner complaint of Otis Oliver McCray, who challenges the conditions of his confinement under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For the purposes of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the court notes that the plaintiff was incarcerated when he filed this suit. The plaintiff has brought the instant case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides a federal cause of action against “[e]very person” who under color of state authority causes the “deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws.” 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment by failing to provide him with adequate medical care. The defendants have moved [79] for summary judgment; the plaintiff has responded to the motion, and the defendants have replied. The matter is ripe for resolution. For the reasons set forth below, the motion [79] by the defendants for summary judgment will be GRANTED, and judgment will be entered for the defendants.

         Summary Judgment Standard

          Summary judgment is appropriate if the “materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials” show that “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a) and (c)(1). “The moving party must show that if the evidentiary material of record were reduced to admissible evidence in court, it would be insufficient to permit the nonmoving party to carry its burden.” Beck v. Texas State Bd. of Dental Examiners, 204 F.3d 629, 633 (5th Cir. 2000) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 1066 (1988)). After a proper motion for summary judgment is made, the burden shifts to the non-movant to set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Beck, 204 F.3d at 633; Allen v. Rapides Parish School Bd., 204 F.3d 619, 621 (5th Cir. 2000); Ragas v. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, 136 F.3d 455, 458 (5th Cir. 1998).

         Substantive law determines what is material. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. “Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted.” Id., at 248. If the non-movant sets forth specific facts in support of allegations essential to his claim, a genuine issue is presented. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 327. “Where the record, taken as a whole, could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Federal Savings and Loan, Inc. v. Krajl, 968 F.2d 500, 503 (5th Cir. 1992). The facts are reviewed drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Allen, 204 F.3d at 621; PYCA Industries, Inc. v. Harrison County Waste Water Management Dist., 177 F.3d 351, 161 (5th Cir. 1999); Banc One Capital Partners Corp. v. Kneipper, 67 F.3d 1187, 1198 (5th Cir. 1995). However, this is so only when there is “an actual controversy, that is, when both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory facts.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994); see Edwards v. Your Credit, Inc., 148 F.3d 427, 432 (5th Cir. 1998). 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 very purpose of summary judgment is to “pierce the pleadings and assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” Advisory Committee Note to the 1963 Amendments to Rule 56. Indeed, “[t]he amendment is not intended to derogate from the solemnity of the pleadings. Rather, it recognizes that despite the best efforts of counsel to make his pleadings accurate, they may be overwhelmingly contradicted by the proof available to his adversary.” Id. The non-moving party (the plaintiff in this case), must come forward with proof to support each element of his claim. The plaintiff cannot meet this burden with “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, ” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586, 106 S.Ct. at 1356, “conclusory allegations, ” Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871, 871-73, 110 S.Ct. 3177, 3180 (1990), “unsubstantiated assertions, ” Hopper v. Frank, 16 F.3d 92 (5th Cir. 1994), or by a mere “scintilla” of evidence, Davis v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc., 14 F.3d 1082 (5th Cir. 1994). It would undermine the purposes of summary judgment if a party could defeat such a motion simply by “replac[ing] conclusory allegations of the complaint or answer with conclusory allegations of an affidavit.”

          In considering a motion for summary judgment, once the court “has determined the relevant set of facts and drawn all inferences in favor of the nonmoving party to the extent supportable by the record, [the ultimate decision becomes] purely a question of law.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 381 (2007) (emphasis in original). “When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on the motion for summary judgment.” Id. at 380.

         The Plaintiff Has Altered Documents Before Submitting Them to the Court

         Before setting forth the undisputed facts, the court must note that Mr. McCray has altered some of the documents he has presented to the court. There are instances where the date or content of the plaintiff's copy of a document differs from that found in the certified copy. Though the plaintiff alleges that the defendants have altered the dates and, perhaps, the content of some documents, the nature of the changes make clear that the plaintiff, himself, altered the documents in his possession before submitting them to the court. The plaintiff clearly gained possession of an incomplete document, then filled in the blank spaces with statements more favorable to his positions in this case.

         An example of this deception can be found when comparing the certified copy of the First Step Response Form to Grievance Number MCCF-15-315 (an exhibit to the defendants' motion for summary judgment [Doc. 90-2 at 18]) with the version attached to McCray's Response to that motion [Doc. 86 at 39]. One of McCray's claims in this case is that he did not receive a medication prescribed by a doctor to treat prostate trouble.

         The Certified First Step Response

          In the certified document, Nurse Darnell states:

You were seen by the specialist on 6/11/15 and the medication the specialist ordered was KOP'd to you on 6/16/15.

         The term KOP means “keep on person;” thus, medical personnel simply handed the medication to him so that he could take it when needed, rather than waiting for the nurse to come by his cell several times per day to dispense it. In response, Mr. McCray acknowledges that he received the medication, but only after he told the doctor that the prescription was not initially in the computer:

Nurse Gale & crew did not put the presribtion in the computer, after I came from the uroxlist, 3 months later when the sick call I place, to c the doctor that's when it happen.
Check ur constulation report, the medication was not in the computer 7-15-15. If I had not toll the doctor on the 7-15-15; it would have been 3 months late.

Doc. 90-2 at 18 (errors in original). On the next page is a document showing that Mr. McCray received the medication on June 16, 2015. He complains in that document that he got the medication only after the consult:

This was after; the constulation. Report will show the misconduct. Ask the Doctor what happen!! (unless the dates was change) U know Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Id. (errors in original). In the next line he threatens to alter medical documents in the future:

I'm change some dates to c what happen; Imagine THAT!!

Id. McCray signed the certified copy and wrote the Dated: “Oct 7 2015.”

         Uncertified Document

         Parts of the uncertified First Step Response Form No. MCCF-15-315 are identical to the certified version - the parts filled in by medical personnel. It is Mr. McCray's responses that differ. The plaintiff's statements in the uncertified copy ...

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