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Cathey v. Natal

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

December 8, 2017




         BEFORE THE COURT is the Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 42) filed by Defendants Norma Natal and Unknown Pennington. The motion is fully briefed. Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition (ECF No. 47), and Defendants filed a Reply (ECF No. 49). Having considered the submissions of the parties, the record as a whole, and relevant law, the undersigned recommends that Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 42) be GRANTED. The undersigned further recommends that Plaintiff's claims against unserved Defendants Sharon Bayman, E. Burkhalter, Retired Counselor B. Smith, and Unknown Fernanders be dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust available administrative remedies before filing suit.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Carlos Lajuan Cathey is a prisoner in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP” or “Bureau”) housed at the Federal Correctional Complex in Yazoo City, Mississippi (“FCC Yazoo”). He filed his initial Complaint on October 31, 2016. Proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, he seeks monetary damages for the alleged violation of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Complaint (ECF No. 1); Memorandum in Support (ECF No. 3). He filed an Amended Complaint (ECF No. 10) on March 23, 2017, which added causes of action pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) and the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 2401, 2671-80. He has been granted leave to supplement his Amended Complaint through various additional filings.[1] See Order (ECF No. 14); Order (ECF No. 51), Order (ECF No. 54). Subsequent to District Judge Ozerden's dismissal of Plaintiff's claims against the Federal Bureau of Prisons and his claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, see Order (ECF No. 13), Plaintiff's claims pursuant to Bivens and the FTCA persist against Defendants Normal Natal, Sharon Bayman, E. Burkhalter, Retired Counselor B. Smith, Unknown Pennington, Unknown Fernanders, and the United States of America.

         Plaintiff claims that another inmate hit him in the head with a lock in October of 2014 while Plaintiff was watching television in his unit at FCC Yazoo. (ECF No. 10, at 1-2). He says that he spent a month in “SHU” and, when released, “complained to medical about floaters in [his] eye and blurriness in [his] vision.” Id. at 2. He states that Defendants Natal, Bayman, Burkhalter, Pennington, and Fernanders provided constitutionally deficient medical care related to his “head injury[, ] and the delay caused permanent blindness.” Id. at 3. He says the delay in care allowed for a pituitary tumor in his head to continue increase in size and cause his blindness. Id. He also alleges that Defendant Smith violated his constitutional rights by “failing to allow Plaintiff to process [his grievance] through the Administrative remedy process.” Id. at 11.

         On August 10, 2017, Defendants Natal and Pennington filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 42), which argues that Plaintiff's Bivens claims should be dismissed because Plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies before he filed suit. Defendants Bayman, Burkhalter, Smith, and Fernanders have not entered appearances because they have yet to be properly served with process. Plaintiff failed to timely provide the Court with addresses at which these Defendants could be served, even after an extension of time to do so. See Order (ECF No. 51), Text Order Aug. 9, 2017.


         A. Legal Standards

         a. Summary Judgment Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows 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). “When the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). “[T]he nonmovant must go beyond the pleadings and designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (en banc).

         “A genuine dispute of material fact means that ‘evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'” Royal v. CCC & R Tres Arboles, L.L.C., 736 F.3d 396, 400 (5th Cir. 2013) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). If the evidence presented by the nonmovant “‘is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, ' summary judgment is appropriate.” Cutting Underwater Techs. USA, Inc. v. ENI U.S. Operating Co., 671 F.3d 512, 516 (5th Cir. 2012) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249). In deciding whether summary judgment is appropriate, the Court views the evidence and inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. RSR Corp. v. Int'l Ins. Co., 612 F.3d 851, 857 (5th Cir. 2010).

         b. The Prison Litigation Reform Act

         Because Plaintiff is a prisoner pursuing a civil action seeking redress from government employees, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321, H.R. 3019 (codified as amended in scattered titles and sections of the U.S.C.), applies and requires that this case be screened.

         The PLRA provides that “the Court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action . . . (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Thus, the statute “accords judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the ...

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