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Shinault v. Mississippi Department of Corrections

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

December 4, 2018



         Before the Court are the Defendants' motions for summary judgment. See Docs. #51 & #54. Plaintiff has failed to submit a response to the motions, and the deadline to do so has passed. For the reasons forth below, Defendants' motions will be granted and judgment entered in favor of Defendants.

         I Factual and Procedural Background

          After breaking his ankle at a different facility in March 2017, inmate George Shinault was transferred to the Unit 42 hospital at the Mississippi State Penitentiary ("MSP") for treatment, where it was determined that he needed a surgery consult. He awaited a surgery consult in MSP's infirmary for approximately one month, and he claims that when the consult was finally provided, surgery was no longer an option due to the delay. Shinault asserts that his bones-healed out of alignment during the delay, which causes him to suffer with pain and arthritis. He also alleges that medical staff at MSP applied a cast to his leg that blistered his skin, thereby causing him further injury.

         Shinault subsequently filed an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that his constitutional rights were violated by the improper medical treatment and delay. Named as defendants in this action are the Mississippi Department of Corrections ("MDOC") and Dr. Gloria Perry, along with medical providers Mrs. Willie Knighten[1], Angela Brown[2], Dr. Pamela Jarrett, and Dr. Woodall. Shinault asks the Court to award him monetary damages and disability upon his release from prison.

         II Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary 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) and (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 (1988)).

         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. 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 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).

         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]... 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.

         III Summary Judgment Evidence

         In the early morning hours of March 14, 2017, while George Shinault was being housed in the Issaquena County Correctional Facility, he jumped off a fixture approximately ten feet high and was thereafter observed limping to the bunk area. Doc. #54-2 at 22. The same day, he was transported to the emergency room at the Mississippi State Penitentiary ("MSP") and was there evaluated by Nurse Angela Brown, who placed him on a medical hold and ordered an x-ray of his ankle. Id. at 5-9. After the x-ray showed a fracture to Shinault's left ankle, he was admitted to the infirmary, provided a cast and crutches, and advised not to place weight on his ankle. Id. at 14-17. He was also provided pain medication. Id. at 7, 15, and 22.

         Medical staff immediately requested an orthopedic consultation for Shinault's ankle. See, e.g., Id. at 24 and 29. This orthopedic consult remained pending during Shinault's stay at the infirmary. See Id. at 24, 29, 48, 51, 56, 59, 67, 89, 101, 105, 113, 117, 121, 122, 131, 141 and 143. While the consult was pending, Shinault remained on a medical hold where he received continuous medical treatment, including the regular administration of pain medication. See, e.g., Id. at 5-158. On March 17, 2017, a few days after Shinault injured himself, a second x-ray was taken that showed the alignment of Shinault's fractured ankle as stable. Id. at 36 and 268.

         On March 17, 2017, two small blisters were noticed on Shinault's foot, and Defendant Jarrett removed his cast and treated the blisters. Id. at 39-40 and 42-43. The blisters were subsequently treated until they healed. Id. at 42-43, 46, 48, 51, 53, 55, 57, 58, 63, 67, 69, 74, 77, 78, 82, 85, 89, 94, 99, 100, 101, and 105.

         On April 11, 2017, Shinault was examined by Dr. William Porter, an outside orthopedist. Id. at 279-80. Dr. Porter's notes of this visit indicate that he discussed range of motion exercises with Shinault, as well as the importance that the injury remain non-weight bearing. Id. at 280. It was noted that there was "minimal evidence of healing" to the injury at that time. Id. at 279-80. Dr. Porter requested to see Shinault for a follow-up in a month. Id. at 280. Shinault was discharged from the MSP infirmary on April 12, 2017, at which time he was able to walk with the assistance of crutches. Id. at 164-65. Upon discharge, Shinault was prescribed a two-month lay-in with a tray.[3] Id. at 169.

         Shinault had a follow-up visit with Dr. Porter on May 16, 2017, at which time Dr. Porter noted the fracture's alignment was without change, and that the injury was "healing well." Doc. #54-2 at 184-85, 288-289. He instructed Shinault to continue to be non-weight bearing and to return in one month for a follow-up appointment. Id. at 288-89. On June 8, 2017, Shinault was seen by an outside prosthetics provider for ...

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