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Chadwick v. Correction Corporation of America

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

May 29, 2018

SHANNON ROY CHADWICK #115662, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JEFFERY S. FRENSLEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Introduction and Background

         This matter is before the Court upon Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. Docket No. 51. Along with their Motion, Defendants have contemporaneously filed a supporting Memorandum of Law (Docket No. 52) and a Statement of Undisputed Material Facts (Docket No. 56), along with the Declarations of Bobby Aylward (Docket No. 53), James Bridges (Docket No. 54), and Blair Leibach (Docket No. 55).

         Plaintiff has not filed a Response to the instant Motion, but has filed a document entitled “Response to Defendants of [sic] Statement of Facts.”[1] Docket No. 66.

         With leave of Court (Docket No. 68), Defendants have filed a Reply. Docket No. 69.

         Plaintiff filed this pro se, in forma pauperis action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment constitutional rights by being deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need by denying him medical care for his hernia, and by being deliberately indifferent to his conditions of confinement when a bunk bed fell on him. Docket Nos. 1, 23. Plaintiff sues Corrections Corporation of America (now “CoreCivic”), Jail physician James Bridges, and Warden Blair Leibach in their individual and official capacities. Id. Plaintiff seeks $300, 000.00 for “pain and suffering, ” $300, 000.00 for “mental distress, depression, ” and $300, 000.00 for “malpractice.” Id.

         Defendants filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment and supporting materials arguing that they are entitled to summary judgment because: (1) Plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, as required under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. §1997e; (2) respondeat superior is not a basis for the imposition of liability under §1983 and Plaintiff cannot establish that any official CoreCivic policy, practice, or custom violated his rights; (3) Plaintiff cannot establish individual liability for Defendants Bridges and Leibach as the Jail physician and Jail Warden because he cannot establish that they either encouraged or directly participated in the conduct of which he complains; (4) Plaintiff cannot establish that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs because the evidence demonstrates that Defendants provided appropriate medical treatment and safe bunk beds to him throughout his incarceration at the Jail; and (5) Plaintiff cannot establish that he suffered more than a de minimis physical injury, as is required under the PLRA for recovery. Docket Nos. 51, 52.

         As noted, Plaintiff has not filed a Response to the instant Motion, but has filed a document entitled “Response to Defendants of [sic] Statement of Facts” (Docket No. 66) that does not contain the requisite citations to the record and is not in a form required by either Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 or the Local Rules. In that document, however, Plaintiff acknowledges:

12. Dr. Bridges give [sic] enough pain meds and see you when ever you have to be seen. . . .
13. Dr. Bridges gave Hernia support undergarments that was to [sic] small. Also ordered ultrasounds for Mr. Chadwick for October 14, 2015 and another in [sic] February 9, 2016 and did order urlourology [sic] surgical consult. (date?)
14. Mr. Chadwick did see medical providers at the detention facility.
15. Mr. Chadwick has never blamed Dr. Bridges for faulty bunk beds.
16. Mr. Chadwick did file a grievance on medical and was denied by Mr. Leibach. Being a warden Mr. Leibach should know what's going on between maintenance employees and officers.
17. [Mr.] Chadwick did complain of back, neck, and arm numbness due to his health and was ordered x-rays and never received results from them and still suffers to this day.

Docket No. 66.

         With leave of Court (Docket No. 68), Defendants have filed a Reply, arguing that even if Plaintiff had properly responded to their Motion or Statement of Undisputed Material Facts, summary judgment would still be warranted because Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, as required under the PLRA, because Plaintiff has not demonstrated that an official CoreCivic policy, practice, or custom violated his constitutional rights, because Plaintiff cannot demonstrate sufficient personal involvement by Defendants Bridges or Leibach in the allegedly violative conduct, and because Plaintiff cannot establish that any of the Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need. Docket No. 69.

         For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned recommends that Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 51) be GRANTED and that Plaintiff's claims be DISMISSED.

         II. Undisputed Facts [2]

         A. Declaration of Bobby Aylward

         Mr. Bobby Aylward is a CoreCivic employee involved in the grievance process at the Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility (“Jail”). Docket No. 53, ¶ 1. CoreCivic's administrative grievance system enables inmates at the Jail to seek redress for issues relating to the conditions of their confinement. Id., ¶ 2.

         Under Policy 14-05, Inmate/Resident Grievance Procedures, the processing of a standard inmate grievance at the Jail proceeds as follows: (1) Within seven days of becoming aware of a specific grievable issue, the inmate must file an informal resolution. A department-level supervisor or other appropriate official must respond to the informal resolution within fifteen days of receipt; (2) If the inmate is dissatisfied with the response to the informal resolution, the inmate must file a formal grievance within five days, and the grievance officer must respond to the formal grievance within fifteen days of receipt; and (3) If the inmate is dissatisfied with the response to the formal grievance, the inmate must file a grievance appeal within five days, and the warden must respond to the grievance appeal within fifteen days of receipt. Id., ¶ 3. The response of the warden is final and constitutes the exhaustion of administrative remedies. Id.

         Plaintiff filed several informal resolutions during his incarceration at the Jail, but only one has any bearing on the matter before the Court: on February 22, 2016, Plaintiff filed an informal resolution that he had been denied his medication by “Nurse Eldrige.” Id., ¶¶ 4, 5. Plaintiff pursued the first level of the grievance procedure regarding this claim, but did not pursue the second or third levels. Id., ¶ 5. Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies at the Jail regarding his claim of inadequate medical treatment for a hernia before April 6, 2016. Id., ¶ 6.

         B. Declaration of James Bridges, M.D.

         Dr. James Bridges is employed by CoreCivic and serves as the physician at the Jail. Docket Nos. 54, ¶ 2; 55, ¶ 4. Dr. Bridges, along with other medical providers, continuously evaluated and treated Plaintiff's hernia pain from the date of his incarceration at the Jail on June 8, 2015 through his release date of April 28, 2016. Docket No. 54, ¶ 3. Specifically, Dr. Bridges and other medical providers performed numerous physical evaluations of Plaintiff, ordered Plaintiff hernia support undergarments, provided Plaintiff with medications as necessary, and entered appropriate medical orders. Id., ¶ 4. Additionally, Dr. Bridges ordered two ultrasounds for Plaintiff that were performed on October 14, 2015 and February 9, 2016. Id.

         Following Plaintiff's February 9, 2016 ultrasound, Dr. Bridges ordered a urology surgical consult for Plaintiff. Id., ¶¶ 4, 5. Dr. Bridges' analysis of the ultrasound was that Plaintiff's hernia did not require emergent surgical repair, and thus, a waiting period of two months to see an offsite specialist was appropriate and was a typical waiting period. Id., ¶ 5.

         Unknown to Dr. Bridges because he is not responsible for scheduling, Plaintiff was housed at another facility from March 9, 2016 through March 21, 2016 and missed his scheduled urology surgical consult. Id. When Dr. Bridges next saw Plaintiff on April 6, 2016, he rescheduled Plaintiff's urology surgical consult appointment, but Plaintiff was released on April 28, 2016, before his appointment took place. Id.

         During his incarceration at the Jail, Plaintiff saw Dr. Bridges or a nurse practitioner at least seven times at the Jail, and also saw other medical providers during numerous sick call appointments, in relation to his hernia pain. Id., ¶ 6.

         Dr. Bridges did not have any involvement in the maintenance of the bunk beds at the Jail. Id., ¶ 7. Dr. Bridges also did not instruct or encourage CoreCivic employees to inadequately maintain the bunk beds. Id.

         C. Declaration of Blair Leibach

         Mr. Blair Leibach is employed by CoreCivic and serves as the Jail Warden. Docket No. 55, ¶¶ 2, 4. CoreCivic operates the Jail under contract with the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee. Id., ¶ 3.

         Relevant policies are designed and intended to ensure that CoreCivic employees provide adequate medical treatment to inmates, including pharmaceutical services and off-site medical treatment when appropriate, and provide adequate living ...


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