United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
PERCY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Otis Oliver McCray, proceeding pro se and in
forma pauperis, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against the Mississippi Department of Corrections
(“MDOC”) and Dr. Paxton Paige (“MDOC
Defendants”), and against contract medical providers
Dr. Woods and H.S.A. H. Williamson (“Centurion
Defendants”), alleging that they have denied him
appropriate medical care. Defendant MDOC has moved to dismiss
this action based on immunity, and the remaining Defendants
have moved for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 56. McCray has filed a response in opposition to
the motions for summary judgment. Having reviewed the
submissions and arguments of the parties, as well as the
applicable law, the Court finds that Defendants' motions
should be granted.
Plaintiff's Allegations & Background
an inmate housed at the Marshall County Correctional Facility
(“MCCF”), alleges that he suffers with a
prolapsed rectum that MDOC refuses to treat with surgery. He
also complains that he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in
early 2017, and that following his diagnosis, MCCF employees
Dr. Woods, Dr. Paxton Paige, and H.S.A. H. Williamson denied
him Hepatitis C treatment. He asks the Court to award him
monetary damages and order Defendants to provide him with the
necessary medical treatment.
December 5, 2017, MDOC moved to dismiss this action, alleging
that it was immune from suit pursuant to the Eleventh
Amendment. See Doc. #26. A motion for summary
judgment was subsequently filed by Dr. Paxton Paige,
identified by Defendants as “Paxton Paige, ”
asserting the defenses of sovereign and qualified immunity.
See Doc. #57. On April 16, 2018, Dr. Woods and
H.S.A. H. Williamson each filed separate motions for summary
judgment. Doc. #60 & Doc. #63. McCray filed his response
in opposition to the motions for summary judgment on April
30, 2018. Doc. #70. The Centurion Defendants filed their
reply to McCray's response on May 7, 2018. Doc. #73.
Summary Judgment Standard
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 Texas, 560 F.3d 316,
326 (5th Cir. 2009) (citation and internal quotation mark
omitted). “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
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. That is, the non-movant must set forth specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249
(1986); Beck, 204 F.3d at 633. 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 (1986),
“conclusory allegations, ” Lujan v.
National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871,
871-73 (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 (1990). Therefore, in considering a motion for summary
judgment, a court must determine whether the non-moving
party's allegations are plausible.
Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586. (emphasis added).
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]. . . a pure question of
law.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 381 n.8
(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.
MDOC Defendants have asserted the defense of sovereign
immunity as to the claims against them in their official
capacities. The Eleventh Amendment to the United
States Constitution bars suits by private citizens against
states in federal courts unless the particular state has
waived its immunity or Congress has abrogated the state's
sovereign immunity. U.S. Const. Amend XI; Perez v. Region
20 Educ. Service Center, 307 F.3d 318, 326 (5th Cir.
2002). Mississippi has not waived its sovereign immunity.
See Miss. Code Ann. §11-46-5(4) (“Nothing
contained in this chapter shall be construed to waive the
immunity of the state from suit in federal courts guaranteed
by the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution of the United
States.”). “MDOC is considered an arm of the
State of Mississippi” and is immune from suit.
Williams v. Miss. Dep't of Corrections, No.
3:12cv259-CWR-FKB, 2012 WL 205210, 1 at *1 (S. D. Miss. June
6, 2012); see also Miss. Code Ann. § 47-5-1,
et seq. Accordingly, the MDOC Defendants are
entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity.
Individual Capacity Claim Against Paxton
has alleged that Defendants, including Paxton Paige, have
denied him necessary medical treatment. However, the
competent summary judgment evidence demonstrates that Paige
is not a medical doctor and has never had any involvement in
McCray's medical treatment. Doc. #57-1. Rather, Paige is
the MDOC Health Services Administrator stationed at the
Central Mississippi Correctional Facility
(“CMCF”) in Pearl, Mississippi, and has never
been stationed at MCCF, where the events giving rise to this
lawsuit allegedly occurred. Id. Accordingly,
Paige's absence of involvement in any of McCray's
medical treatment decisions entitle him to be dismissed from
this lawsuit. See, e.g. Thompson v. Steele, 709 F.2d
381, 382 (5th Cir. 1983) (“Personal involvement is an
essential element of a civil rights cause of action.”).