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Lyles v. George

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Columbia Division

December 5, 2016

JASON LYLES
v.
ENOCH GEORGE, et al.

          Honorable William J. Haynes, Senior District Judge.

          REPORT AND RECOMENDATION

          BARBARA D. HOLMES United States Magistrate Judge.

         By Order entered January 20, 2015 (Docket Entry No. 46), this action was referred to the Magistrate Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 636(b)(1)(A) and (B) and Rule 72 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, to hear and determine any pretrial issues and motions, to conduct any necessary conferences and hearings, and to submit a report and recommendation for disposition of any motion filed under Rules 12, 15, 56, and 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         Presently pending are the separate motions for summary judgment filed by the Maury Regional Medical Center (Docket Entry No. 88) and Enoch George (Docket Entry No. 91). Plaintiff has not responded to either motion. Also pending is Defendant George's motion to dismiss for failure to prosecute (Docket Entry No. 97). For the reasons set out below, the Court recommends that the motions for summary judgment be granted and this action be dismissed.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is an inmate of the Tennessee Department of Correction currently confined at the Morgan County Correctional Complex (“MCCC”) in Wartburg, Tennessee. He filed this action pro se and in forma pauperis on October 30, 2013, based on events that occurred at the Maury County Jail (“Jail”) in Columbia, Tennessee, where he was confined from August 15, 2013, to January 29, 2014.[1] He seeks monetary relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his constitutional rights alleged to have been committed at the Jail. By Order entered November 4, 2014 (Docket Entry No. 3), process was issued to Maury County Sheriff Enoch George (“George”) and the Maury Regional Medical Center (“MRMC”) on Plaintiff's complaint. After a stay of the case pending resolution of other prisoner civil rights cases brought within this District based on events occurring at the Jail, see Order entered December 6, 2013 (Docket Entry No. 13), the case was re-opened and the parties were provided with a period for discovery and the filing of dispositive motions. See Orders entered December 8, 2014 (Docket Entry No. 31), May 20, 2015 (Docket Entry No. 64), and October 16, 2015 (Docket Entry No. 73).

         Although Plaintiff made a number of allegations in his Complaint (Docket Entry No. 1), several of his claims and the individual capacity claims brought against Defendant George were dismissed upon the motion of Defendant George. See Order entered February 18, 2016 (Docket Entry No. 84). The only claims that remain in this action are: 1) a claim based on allegations that Plaintiff was not provided with adequate medical treatment for shoulder and knee injuries from which he suffers; and 2) a claim based on allegations that the Jail is unsanitary and unclean and that plumbing at the Jail is inadequate and does not function properly. Id. See also Report and Recommendation (Docket Entry No. 81) at 7.

         Defendant MRMC acknowledges that it provided medical care to inmates at the Jail through its nursing staff and that Plaintiff suffered from pre-existing knee and shoulder injuries which he aggravated while at the Jail. Defendant MRMC argues that it is entitled to summary judgment because the undisputed facts show that the MRMC nursing staff provided regular and adequate medical care to Plaintiff upon his complaints of shoulder and knee pain, including multiple examinations, multiple referrals to an outside medical clinic where Plaintiff received an x-ray, an MRI examination, and several cortisone injections, and the provision to Plaintiff of over-the-counter medications, a wheelchair, a knee brace, and ice packs. They contend that there is no evidence supporting a claim that Plaintiff was treated with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. Defendant MRMC supports its motion with a Statement of Undisputed Material Facts (Docket Entry No. 90), with the affidavit of Floyd Sealey (“Sealey Affidavit”), who served as the chief MRMC nurse at the Jail (Docket Entry No. 88-1) and copies of Plaintiff's medical records attached thereto, and with excerpts from the transcript of Plaintiff's deposition (Docket Entry No. 88-2).

         By his motion for summary judgment, Defendant George argues that the undisputed facts show that there is no evidentiary support for an official capacity claim against him. Defendant George contends that: 1) Plaintiff has not offered any evidence of an unconstitutional policy, practice, or custom of the Maury County government that can be linked to the alleged constitutional violations.; and 2) there is no evidence supporting Plaintiff's allegation that he suffered a violation of his constitutional rights while at the Jail. Defendant George supports his motion with a Statement of Undisputed Material Facts (Docket Entry No. 92), and with copies of Jail documents related to Plaintiff's confinement at the Jail (Docket Entry No. 92-1 through 92-3). Defendant George also relies upon the Sealey Affidavit.

         Although Plaintiff was notified of the motions for summary judgment, warned of the consequences of not responding, and given a deadline of May 13, 2016, to file responses, see Order entered April 4, 2016 (Docket Entry No. 94), he has not filed any type of response to the motions. On November 30, 2016, Defendant George filed a motion to dismiss this action under Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, contending that Plaintiff's failure to file a response to the two pending motions for summary judgment amounts to a willful failure to prosecute that warrants the sanction of dismissal of the action under Rule 41(b). See Memorandum in Support (Docket Entry No. 98).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment is appropriate if “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). A “genuine issue of material fact” is a fact which, if proven at trial, could lead a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). In considering whether summary judgment is appropriate, the Court must “look beyond the pleadings and assess the proof to determine whether there is a genuine need for trial.” Sowards v. Loudon Cnty., 203 F.3d 426, 431 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 875, 121 S.Ct. 179, 148 L.Ed.2d 123 (2000). The Court must view the evidence and all inferences drawn from underlying facts “in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion.” See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., Ltd., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Gribcheck v. Runyon, 245 F.3d 547, 550 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 534 U.S. 896, 122 S.Ct. 217, 151 L.Ed.2d 155 (2001).

         The moving party has the burden of showing the absence of genuine factual disputes from which a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson, at 249-50. “Once the moving party has presented evidence sufficient to support a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party is not entitled to trial merely on the basis of allegations; significant probative evidence must be presented to support the complaint.” Goins v. Clorox Co., 926 F.2d 559, 561 (6th Cir. 1991). In other words, to defeat summary judgment, the party opposing the motion must present affirmative evidence to support his or her position; a mere “scintilla of evidence” is insufficient. Bell v. Ohio State Univ., 351 F.3d 240, 247 (6th Cir. 2003) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252).

         III. ...


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