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Lofton v. Everett

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

May 15, 2018

JERRY LYNN LOFTON a/k/a GERRY LYNN LOFTON PLAINTIFF
v.
NURSE MELANIE EVERETT, ET AL. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          MICHAEL P. MILLS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the court on the pro se prisoner complaint of Jerry Lynn Lofton, 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, a pretrial detainee, alleges that the defendants failed to provide him with adequate medical care and used excessive force against him in violation of the guarantee of the rights of procedural and substantive due process under Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Hare v. City of Corinth, Miss., 74 F.3d 633, 639 (5th Cir. 1996).[1] The defendants have moved for summary judgment, and the plaintiff has responded to that motion. The matter is ripe for resolution. For the reasons set forth below, the motion by the defendants for summary judgment will be granted, and judgment will be entered in favor of 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 (5thCir. 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[;] [r]ather, 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 Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356 (1986), “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.” Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871, 888, 110 S.Ct. 3177, 3188 (1990). In considering a motion for summary judgment, a court must determine whether the non-moving party's allegations are plausible. Matsushita, supra. (emphasis added). “[D]etermining whether a complaint states a plausible claim is context-specific, requiring the reviewing court to draw on its experience and common sense.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009) (discussing plausibility of claim as a requirement to survive a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)).

         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.

         Undisputed Material Facts[2]

         Mr. Lofton in this case has alleged facts supporting two distinct claims: (1) a claim for denial of medical care regarding a painful right knee from April 14, 2016, to April 17, 2016, and (2) a claim for use of excessive force on September 14, 2016. The court will discuss these events separately below.

         Denial of Adequate Medical Care

         The following summary of events comports with the Mr. Lofton's contemporaneous medical records and incident reports.

April 15 Lofton “pushed his call button in cell” and asked to see the nurse, who saw him during med pass. Lofton complained of severe knee pain and requested pain medication. The nurse told Lofton that he had just finished three days of pain medication, [3] and he would have to purchase additional meds through the commissary. Later, Lofton again requested the nurse, and she returned to his cell where he complained of pain from leg injuries that occurred years ago. The nurse tried to examine Lofton by testing the range of motion of his knee, but he pushed her away, stating that the examination hurt him. The nurse told Lofton that she must first conduct an examination before he could see the doctor. Lofton refused to see the doctor; instead, he insisted on the pain medication. The nurse also told Lofton that a physician must examine him before prescribing pain medication, but Lofton also refused to visit the doctor.
April 16 Lofton was taken to the medical room, and the nurse examined him. He stayed in the medical room for a time to undergo observation.
Lofton then complained of numbness in his foot, and the nurse examined him again. Lofton again refused to see the jail's physician, Dr. Thompson.
April 17 Lofton asked the nurse to check his blood pressure, and she went to his cell to do so. Lofton was uncooperative - and tossed a cup of urine near her as she tried to examine him.[4]
Later that day, Lofton finally agreed to see Dr. Thompson, who ordered that Lofton be taken to Baptist DeSoto Hospital for further evaluation. The doctor prescribed 800 mg of ibuprofen - as the nurse told him would happen if he would see the physician. He was treated that ...

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