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Davis v. Turner

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

June 10, 2019




         Plaintiff initiated this civil rights action arising under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that Defendants have failed to adequately treat his Hepatitis C.[1] Before the Court are the Defendants' motions for summary judgment, Plaintiffs response, and Defendants' reply thereto. See Docs. 52, 54, 60, and 63.


         Summary Judgment Proof

         Davis was diagnosed with Hepatitis C on or about August 21, 2013. See Doc. #52-1 ¶ 5. After his diagnosis, Davis was enrolled in chronic care and has received ongoing, routine monitoring. Id. at ¶5; Doc. 52-2 p. 332, 337, 356, 400, 463-64, 513-15, 536-39, 559-64, 607-08, 610, 620-23, 632-33, 636-39, 704-08, 757-61. In October 2018, medical personnel noted in Plaintiffs records that he should receive chronic care monitoring for his Hepatitis C condition in six months, noting his condition was "stable." Doc. 52-2 p. 761.

         Providing chronic care services is the standard form of treatment for Hepatitis C patients, so long as the patient's enzyme levels remain under the appropriate threshold as determined by the patient's Fibrosis-4 score. Doc. 52-1 at ¶¶ 6-7. The Fibrosis-4 score is a non-invasive testing method to measure scarring of the liver. Id. at ¶ 7. Once a patient's score approaches or exceeds 3.25, a patient is automatically referred to a specialist for valuation of treatment with anti-viral medications. Id. In this case, Davis' Fibrosis-4 score most recently registered at .74, well below the threshold for a referral for an off-site consult. Id. at ¶8. Moreover, Davis' levels have never indicated that his condition has worsened while in chronic care monitoring, nor is there any indication that he has experienced liver damage. Id. at 9.

         Davis concedes that he receives regular monitoring but alleges that such does not constitute "treatment" for his illness. Doc. #60.


         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), (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 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) (citation omitted).

         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).

         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 (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., 14F.3d 1082 (5th Cir. 1994). 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). Determining 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, 679 (2009) (discussing plausibility of claim as a requirement to survive a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)) (quotation marks omitted).

         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 ...

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