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Arnold v. Bullard

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

April 12, 2017




         On September 2, 2016, Defendants Erin Bullard and Melissa Ealey, LPN, filed separate Motions for Summary Judgment (Docket Nos. 57 & 64), to which no responses have been filed. In fact, with the response deadline looming, Plaintiff's counsel requested a fifteen day extension because he had lost contact with his client, who apparently had been in “multiple correctional facilities in Middle and West Tennessee[.]” (Docket No. 68 at 1). That request for an extension was granted, but still no response was filed. On April 6, 2017, now more than six months after the deadline for responses, the Court held a status conference, during which Plaintiff's counsel stated that he had searched “various jails, ” but could not find his client and he therefore had no basis to respond to the Motions for Summary Judgment.

         Although Defendants' Motions are unopposed, the Sixth Circuit has stated that “a district court may not use a party's failure to respond (in whole or in part) as a reason for granting summary judgment ‘without first examining all the materials properly before it under Rule 56(c).'” Briggs v. Univ. of Detroit-Mercy, 611 F. App'x 865, 870 (6th Cir. 2015) (quoting, FTC v. E.M.A. Nationwide, Inc., 767 F.3d 611, 630 (6th Cir. 2014)). Having conducted a review of the matters properly before the Court, it is clear that both Defendants are entitled to summary judgment.

         This Court's Local Rules require that a party moving for summary judgment provide a statement of material facts, and that the opponent provide a response thereto. L.R. 56.01(b). The rule goes on to provide that a “[f]ailure to respond to a moving party's statement of material facts . . . within the time period provided by these Rules shall indicate that the asserted facts are not disputed for purposes of summary judgment.” L.R. 56.01(g).

         Plaintiff brings his claims under the Eighth Amendment, alleging that he was not provided adequate treatment (or received no treatment) after he injured his hand while housed at the Overton County Jail.[1] However, his contentions are belied by what is properly before the Court in the form of evidence.

         Defendants have submitted a Declaration from Defendant Bullard, the Jail Administrator, as well as incident reports and progress notes from both the jail nurse and a treating physician. They reveal the following:

         On August 24, 2015, Plaintiff was involved in a fight with another inmate. He was seen that same day by the jail nurse for pain in his right hand, who provided him with ice and Ibuprofen. The following day, he was again seen by the nurse, who placed him in the booking area for observation and examined him again the next day.

         On August 27, 2015, Plaintiff had a court appearance and complained to the judge that he was not being provided adequate medical treatment. The judge heard from the nurse who explained that no x-ray had been taken because Plaintiff's hand was swollen, and the results could therefore be inaccurate. Nevertheless, the judge directed that an x-ray be taken. An x-ray that same day revealed that Plaintiff had a fracture in his hand. Plaintiff was then placed on the doctor's list of inmates to be seen.

         On September 5, 2015, a Nurse Practitioner went to the jail and examined Plaintiff. She ordered that Plaintiff be provided Ibuprofen and that arrangements be made for an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. Defendant Ealey called for an appointment that same day and was given the first available date, which was September 9, 2015.

         In the interim, on September 8, 2015, the jail learned that Plaintiff was hoarding his Ibuprofen, which prompted the Nurse Practitioner to stop administering it. The next day, Plaintiff was taken by his jailers to see an orthopedic surgeon who apparently directed Plaintiff to return for a follow-up visit. That visit was scheduled for September 23, 2015, during which the physician ordered Plaintiff to return in one month.

         On October 22, 2015, Plaintiff was involved in a second fight and punched an inmate with the same injured fist. He did not, however, seek medical treatment at that time.

         On October 30, 2015, Plaintiff refused to return to the orthopedic surgeon for his follow- up visit. Instead, he requested that he be returned to general population within the jail.

         On November 16, 2015, Plaintiff was moved to general population as requested, but refused to be seen by the nurse practitioner. At the time, Plaintiff stated that his hand was fine.

         An Eighth Amendment violation occurs when “[o]fficials are deliberately indifferent to [a] prisoner's serious medical needs, ” Comstock v. McCrary, 273 F.3d 693, 701 (6th Cir. 2001), and a claim under that Amendment has both an objective and subjective component. Harrison v. Ash, 539 F.3d 510, 518 (6th Cir. 2008) (citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at 833). Based upon the only ...

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