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Baxter v. State

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division

March 11, 2015



JAMES D. TODD, District Judge.

The pro se Plaintiff, Timothy Aaron Baxter, an inmate at the Northwest Correctional Complex ("NWCX") in Tiptonville, Tennessee, filed a civil rights complaint on December 21, 2012. (ECF No. 1.) The Court subsequently granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessed the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 5.) On May 1, 2013, the Court dismissed the complaint sua sponte pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)-(iii) and 1915A(b)(1)-(2); judgment was entered on May 3, 2013. (ECF Nos. 6 & 7.) Plaintiff then filed a motion for relief from judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) (ECF No. 8), which the Court granted on October 4, 2013, (ECF No. 10). The Court granted Plaintiff's leave to amend his complaint to assert an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Kevin Gray, M.D., for lack of adequate medical care, and directed that process be issued and served on the Defendant. ( Id. ) United States Magistrate Judge Edward G. Bryant entered a scheduling order on January 17, 2014, pursuant to which discovery was to be completed by June 20, 2014. (ECF No. 20.) Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on January 30, 2014, which alleges both Eighth Amendment claims and state law claims of gross negligence. (ECF No. 23.)

Plaintiff filed a motion to compel discovery on June 23, 2014 (ECF No. 31), which was referred to Magistrate Judge Bryant for disposition. On June 30, 2014, Defendant Gray filed a motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 34.) Plaintiff then filed a motion for an extension of the discovery deadline on July 1, 2014 (ECF No. 35); that motion also was referred to the Magistrate Judge. In Plaintiff's response to the motion for summary judgment, filed July 11, 2014 (ECF No. 38), he asked the Court to defer a ruling on the motion, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d), [1] because of the pending motion to compel. On September 4, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend the motion to compel, in which he sought a hearing on the motion and a status conference in order to discuss reopening discovery. (ECF No. 48.) That motion was referred to Magistrate Judge Bryant as well.

On January 13, 2015, the Magistrate Judge issued an order partially granting and partially denying Plaintiff's motion to compel discovery, but denying the requests to reopen discovery. (ECF No. 56.) On February 18, 2015, Plaintiff filed an untimely objection. (ECF No. 58.) Defendant filed a response to that objection (ECF No. 59), and Plaintiff filed a reply (ECF No. 60).

Plaintiff's objection to the Magistrate Judge's order is DENIED. The only reason given for the belated filing is that on January 16, 2015, Plaintiff asked the librarian at the NWCX to make him a copy of the order. However, the librarian misplaced the order, and it was not found until February 9, 2015. (ECF No. 58 at 3 (letter from NWCX librarian).) Plaintiff has offered no explanation for why it was necessary for him to have a copy of the Magistrate Judge's order made before preparing an objection.

In any event, the objection also is not well taken on the merits. Plaintiff has not specifically objected to the Magistrate Judge's ruling on the individual discovery requests. Instead, Plaintiff first asserts that he was given only five months for discovery, whereas in some other cases the litigants are given longer. However, each case is unique, and such comparisons are not particularly helpful. Plaintiff further asserts that the Defendant delayed discovery by failing to provide sufficient answers to his requests. As stated, Magistrate Judge Bryant partially granted the motion to compel, and the Defendant has now complied with that order by supplying the required information and documents. ( See ECF No. 57.) Furthermore, the scheduling order in this case was entered on January 17, 2014, but Plaintiff chose not to serve any discovery until April 14, 2014, even though an appearance was made on Defendants' behalf on November 22, 2013.[2] While the NWCX may have been on lockdown for portions of that time, the lockdowns were only from March 17 through April 2, 2014, and from May 23 through June 17, 2014. Thus, as the Magistrate Judge stated, Plaintiff has had ample time to conduct discovery in this case. The Court DENIES any further request for additional discovery.

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "[T]he burden on the moving party may be discharged by showing'-that is, pointing out to the district court-that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). Rule 56(c)(1) provides that "[a] party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed" is required to support that assertion by:

(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations..., admissions, interrogatory answers or other materials;[3] or
(B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.

In Celotex Corp., the Supreme Court explained that Rule 56:

mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. In such a situation, there can be "no genuine issue as to any material fact, " since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial. The moving party is "entitled to judgment as a matter of law" because the nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of [his] case with respect to which [he] has the burden of proof.

477 U.S. at 322-23. However, where the party moving for summary judgment also has the burden of persuasion at trial, the initial burden on summary judgment is higher. Under those circumstances, the moving party must show "that the record contains evidence satisfying the burden of persuasion and that the evidence is so powerful that no reasonable jury would be free to disbelieve it." Surles v. Andison, 678 F.3d 452, 455-56 (6th Cir. 2012) (internal quotation marks omitted).

In considering whether to grant summary judgment, "the evidence as well as the inferences drawn therefrom must be read in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Kochins v. Linden-Alimak, Inc., 799 F.2d 1128, 1133 (6th Cir. 1986); see also Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986) (same). The Court's function is not to weigh the evidence, judge credibility, or in any way determine the truth of the matter. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). Rather, the inquiry is "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Id. at 251-52.

In the amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on December 18, 2011, [4] while he was incarcerated at the Madison County Criminal Justice Center ("CJC") in Jackson, Tennessee, he was severely beaten and left unconscious by three other inmates. (ECF No. 23 at 4, ¶ 14.) He alleges that he was taken to the booking area where he lay "on a hard cold concrete slab unable to move about" for three days without medical care. ( Id. ¶¶ 15-16.) Plaintiff further alleges that he was taken to an outside medical provider for x-rays on December 19, 2011. He was experiencing severe pain in his upper and lower jaw and radiating pain in his lower back and legs. ( Id. ¶¶ 17-18.) After being returned to the CJC that same day, he saw Defendant Gray on December 21, 2011. While examining Plaintiff, Gray allegedly "began to punch [Plaintiff] several times in the lower back area, exactly where [Plaintiff] was suffering from pain and discomforts." ( Id. ¶¶ 23-25.) Plaintiff screamed and asked why Gray was hitting him, and Gray stated, "I can't do nothing for you, ask your pod officer if you need some ibuprofen, I'm not giving you anything." ( Id. ¶ 26.) Plaintiff ...

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