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Davis v. Edwards

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

August 27, 2019

WILLIAM THOMAS DAVIS, III, Plaintiff,
v.
TONYA EDWARDS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          CURTIS L. COLLIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff William Thomas Davis, III, initiated this pro se civil rights for violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendant Tonya Edwards in her official capacity as an employee of Southern Health Partners (“SHP”), alleging the denial of constitutionally adequate medical care at the Bedford County Jail.[1] Before the Court is Defendant Edwards' motion for summary judgment [Doc. 33], and Plaintiff's response thereto [Doc. 38].

         I. PLAINTIFF'S RELEVANT ALLEGATIONS

         On June 30, 2017, Plaintiff injured his knee while climbing off of his top bunk and was examined by a nurse at the Bedford County Jail the following day [Doc. 4 at 4]. According to Plaintiff, the nurse scheduled Plaintiff to be examined by Dr. Kenneth Matthews, who upon examining Plaintiff almost two weeks later, stated that Plaintiff had suffered a torn meniscus and needed surgery [id.]. Dr. Matthews also told the nurse to ensure that the guards placed Plaintiff in a bottom-level bunk on the lower tier of the jail [id.].

         Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Edwards thereafter told his attorney that Plaintiff did not need emergency surgery, and she informed Plaintiff's family that it was their responsibility to schedule a doctor's visit for Plaintiff [id. at 5-6]. Plaintiff maintains that his sister scheduled Plaintiff a free-world doctor's visit, but that the “nurse” claimed to know nothing about the visits [id. at 6]. Plaintiff alleges that his sister thereafter spoke to the “nurse” about a rescheduled doctor's visit, but Plaintiff was never taken to his appointment [id.]. Plaintiff contends he repeatedly sought surgery and a bottom-level bunk, but that he was denied both [id. at 5]. He requests monetary damages for his pain and suffering [id. at 6-7].

         II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that “[t]he court shall grant summary judgment 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.” In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. McLean v. 988011 Ontario Ltd, 224 F.3d 797, 800 (6th Cir. 2000). “Summary judgment is proper if the evidence, taken in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, shows that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Hartman v. Great Seneca Fin. Corp., 569 F.3d 606, 611 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Mazur v. Young, 507 F.3d 1013, 1016 (6th Cir. 2007)).

         The moving party has the burden of conclusively showing the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Smith v. Hudson, 600 F.2d 60, 63 (6th Cir. 1979). In order to successfully oppose a motion for summary judgment, a party “must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial” and “may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 47 U.S. 242, 248 (1986) (quoting First Nat'l Bank of Arizona v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 288-89 (1968)).

         In considering a motion for summary judgment, 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 adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on the motion for summary judgment.” Id. at 380.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. DELIBERATE INDIFFERENCE

         1. Governing Law

         The law provides that a prisoner has a constitutional right to medical care that is infringed when a defendant's failure to provide adequate treatment is the result of “deliberate indifference to a prisoner's serious illness or injury.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105 (1976). Deliberate indifference has two components that a plaintiff must prove: (1) that the prison official knew that the inmate faced a substantial risk of serious harm [the objective factor]; and (2) that the official disregarded that risk by failing to take reasonable measures to abate it [the subjective factor]. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 847 (1994).

         To satisfy the objective component, the deprivation alleged must be sufficiently serious; that is, it must either be obvious to a layperson or supported by medical evidence. See Blackmore v. Kalamazoo Cty., 390 F.3d 890, 897-98 (6th Cir. 2004). The subjective component requires that the defendant have a “sufficiently culpable state of mind, ...


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