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Bolt v. Watson

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division

September 21, 2016

JAMES W. BOLT PLAINTIFF
v.
NURSE DARLA WATSON DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          TIMOTHY L. BROOKS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Now before the Court are the Report and Recommendation ("R&R") (Doc. 67) issued on February 1, 2016, by the Honorable Erin L. Setser, United States Magistrate Judge for the Western District of Arkansas, and the Objections to the R&R (Doc. 71) filed by Plaintiff James W. Bolt on March 25, 2016. Objections to the R&R were originally due on February 19, 2016. Mr. Bolt filed a request for extra time to submit objections, and the Court granted the request, extending the deadline to March 21, 2016. As of March 23, 2016, no objections had been filed. Consequently, the Court reviewed the R&R and entered an Order adopting it and granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 35). Two days later, the Court received Mr. Bolt's Objections. The Certificate of Service attached to the Objections affirms it was placed in the prison mail system on March 20, 2016.

         According to Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266 (1988), a pro se prisoner's notice of appeal is deemed filed on the day it is delivered to prison officials for forwarding to the court. Id. at 270. This is known as the "prison-mailbox rule." The Eighth Circuit has not decided the issue of whether to extend the prison-mailbox rule to filings other than notices of appeal; however, the Court implied in Miller v. Benson that this rule may likely apply to written objections to a magistrate judge's report and recommendation. 51 F.3d 166, 169 (8th Cir. 1995). For this reason, the Court vacated both its Order adopting the R&R (Doc. 69) and its Judgment of Dismissal (Doc. 70), both of which were entered on March 23, 2016. The Court reopened the case and considered Mr. Bolt's Objections to have been timely filed.

         Now that the Court has reviewed the entire record de novo, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), including the audio recording of the summary judgment hearing conducted by Judge Setser on October 26, 2015, the Court finds that Mr. Bolt's Objections offer neither law nor fact that would justify deviating from the findings and recommendations in the R&R. Accordingly, the R&R will be APPROVED and ADOPTED IN ITS ENTIRETY, and Mr. Bolt's Objections will be overruled for the reasons explained herein.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The R&R contains a thorough recounting of the relevant facts in this case, such that the Court need only summarize the procedural history to give context to Mr. Bolt's Objections. The original Complaint (Doc. 1) was filed on July 14, 2014. In the Complaint, Mr. Bolt asserts that his constitutional rights were violated, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, by Defendants Jane Doe 1, Sheriff Kelly Cradduck, Nurse Darla Watson, Special Agent Robert Cassario, and Sheriff Tim Helder. Magistrate Judge Setser performed an initial screen of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) on October 10, 2014, and concluded that the claims made against all Defendants except Nurse Watson should be dismissed. See Doc. 8. The Court then adopted Judge Setser's recommendations in an Order (Doc. 12) entered on November 7, 2014. Nurse Watson was served with the Complaint, and the case proceeded to the discovery phase.

         According to the Complaint, Mr. Bolt suffers from a number of health problems, including cardiac issues, and had a cardiac pacemaker implanted several years ago. On the day he was arrested on federal charges, August 29, 2013, he was transported to the Benton County, Arkansas, Detention Center ("BCDC"). Within an hour of arriving at the jail, he began experiencing chest pain and was taken to the hospital. (Doc. 1, p. 30). The following day, August 30, 2013, he was released from the hospital and prescribed various heart-related medications. On August 31, 2013, he was transported from the jail back to the hospital for further treatment. Id. at p. 32. Thereafter, he experienced "ongoing problems with shortness of breath, poor exercise tolerance, nausea, vomiting and periodic chest pain, " all of which "was reported to staff" at the BCDC. Id. According to Mr. Bolt, however, his medical problems worsened from mid-September to the end of December of 2013, and he said he began experiencing a panoply of neurological issues, including walking and balance problems, difficulty processing language, cognitive impairments, visual disturbances, dyslexia, olfactory disturbances, and even "mild seizures." Id. at p. 33.

         In Mr. Bolt's view, Nurse Watson displayed indifference to his medical needs from the first day he arrived at the BCDC. He reported to her and other medical personnel at the jail that he believed some or all of his medical problems might be caused by "recurrent Lyme infection in [his] central nervous system." Id. He told Dr. Scott Lafferty, the jail's doctor, that he had contracted Lyme Disease in 1994. Dr. Lafferty then ordered Mr. Bolt to undergo a screening test for Lyme Disease on October 3, 2013, and Mr. Bolt's attorney scheduled him to see a neurologist outside the jail. The blood test for Lyme Disease came back negative on October 9, 2013. Then, in mid-November of 2013, as Mr. Bolt was about to depart the jail for the neurologist's visit, he alleges that Nurse Watson "learned of the appointment and immediately instructed deputies to not take [him] to the exam." Id. at p. 34. It appears that after this neurologist's appointment was cancelled, Mr. Bolt's criminal defense attorney filed a motion requesting emergency medical transport to the neurologist's appointment. The Court held a telephonic hearing on the motion on November 20, 2013, and denied it, finding that the appointment had not been scheduled and given advance approval by the United States Marshal's Service ("USMS"), as per their protocol. See Doc. 24, Case No. 5:13-CR-50085, United States v. James Bolt ("[A]s Defendant is a federal detainee, any medical appointments outside the jail must be approved by the Marshal's Service and, for security reasons, scheduled and arranged by the Marshal's Service.").

         On September 11, 2015, Nurse Watson filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 35) and Brief in Support (Doc. 36). Judge Setser held an evidentiary hearing regarding the Motion on October 26, 2015, and Mr. Bolt was in attendance and gave sworn testimony. Following the hearing, on November 23, 2015, Mr. Bolt filed a document titled "Plaintiffs Objections Regarding the October 26, 2015 Teleconference/Hearing" (Doc. 61), in which he argued that the Court should not have allowed into evidence Nurse Watson's answers to interrogatories and Deputy United States Marshal Tony Overstreet's "unsworn comments" regarding USMS policy on medical appointment authorizations.[1] Mr. Bolt also complained that he had not been permitted "the opportunity to respond in writing to the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant." Id. at p. 1.

         In response to Mr. Bolt's post-hearing objections, Judge Setser issued an Order on December 7, 2015 (Doc. 62), in which she explained that she did not previously "disallow" Mr. Bolt the opportunity to file a written response to the Motion for Summary Judgment, but that she would hold in abeyance her R&R on the Motion until December 21, 2015, in order to allow him time to submit that written response.

         Mr. Bolt claims in the Objections to the R&R that are now before the Court (Doc. 71) that he never received Judge Setser's Order (Doc. 62) granting him permission to file a written response to the summary judgment Motion. See Id. at p. 1. The R&R was eventually filed on February 1, 2016, and it recommended granting the Motion and dismissing the case. Mr. Bolt now informs the Court in his Objections to the R&R, which total 31 pages in length, that they "adequately respond to the motion as well as the R&R." Id. Considering this, the Court is well satisfied that both the R&R and the underlying Motion for Summary Judgment have been fully briefed and are ripe for decision.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) 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." The Court must review the facts in the light most favorable to the opposing party and give that party the benefit of any inferences that logically can be drawn from those facts. Canada v. Union Elec. Co., 135 F.3d 1211, 1212-13 (8th Cir. 1998).

         In order for there to be a genuine issue of material fact, the non-moving party must produce evidence "such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Allison v. Flexway Trucking, Inc., 28 F.3d 64, 66 (8thCir. 1994) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). In response, "[t]he nonmoving party must do more than rely on allegations or denials in the pleadings, and the court should grant summary judgment if any essential element of the prima facie case is not supported by specific facts sufficient to raise a genuine issue for trial." Register ...


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