United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
OPINION AND ORDER
LEON HOLMES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Heath LeMay initially brought this action against UAMS, Dr.
Matthew Mazoch, Dr. John Stephenson, and medical assistant
Tina Williams. He sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging
a violation of his Eighth Amendment rights stemming from
medical treatment he received. LeMay amended the complaint to
drop the claim against UAMS, and this Court dismissed the
claim against Williams without prejudice pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Documents
#26, 46. The remaining defendants, Drs. Mazoch and
Stephenson, have moved for summary judgment. For the
following reasons, the defendants' motion is granted.
is an inmate with the Arkansas Department of Corrections.
Document #62 at 1, ¶ 1. While showering, LeMay fell and
injured his wrist. Id. at ¶ 2. The injury
required surgery, and on July 17, 2014, Dr. Stephenson
performed an open reduction and internal fixation on
LeMay's wrist. Id. Dr. Stephenson inserted three
pins in LeMay's wrist to stabilize the injury and placed
LeMay's arm in a cast. Id. Although Dr.
Stephenson testified that two of the pins were external and
the other pin was “intentionally buried” in
LeMay's wrist, LeMay states that he could see and feel
the three pins protruding from his wrist. Document #54 at 1,
4; Document #62 at 1, ¶ 2.
September 8, 2014, Drs. Mazoch and Stephenson removed the
cast and two pins from LeMay's wrist at UAMS. Document
#54 at 1, ¶ 6; Document #62 at 1, ¶ 3. LeMay states
that by this point only two pins were protruding. Document
#62 at 1, ¶ 3. The complaint reflects that LeMay was
very concerned about whether the third pin was still in his
wrist. Document #26 at 5. He says that Drs. Mazoch and
Stephenson took an x-ray and told him that the third pin was
not in his wrist and had fallen out on its own. Id.
On the other hand, the doctors say that they were aware that
the third pin was not removed and that Dr. Stephenson
informed LeMay that it was not necessary to remove the pin
unless it bothered him. Document #54 at 2, ¶ 8.
doctors sent LeMay back to the Arkansas Department of
Corrections with instructions to perform various exercises to
reduce stiffness in his wrist. Document #62 at 2, ¶ 3.
But while performing these exercises, LeMay felt the third
pin in his wrist, and it began to cause him constant pain.
Id. at 2, ¶ 4. On November 3, 2014, LeMay
returned to UAMS for a follow-up with Dr. Stephenson and
complained of the pain. Document #54 at 2, ¶ 2. Due to
LeMay's discomfort, Dr. Stephenson scheduled LeMay to
have surgery to remove the pin on December 19, 2014.
Id. at 3, ¶ 15. LeMay alleges that he endured
painful months and limited use of his left hand until the pin
was removed by Dr. Stephenson in December 2014. Documents
#26, 62 at 2.
should grant summary judgment if the evidence demonstrates
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden
of demonstrating the absence of a genuine dispute for trial.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106
S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). If the moving party
meets that burden, the nonmoving party must come forward with
specific facts that establish a genuine dispute of material
fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89
L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Torgerson v. City of Rochester,
643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011) (en banc). A genuine
dispute of material fact exists only if the evidence is
sufficient to allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict in
favor of the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91
L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The Court must view the evidence in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party and must give
that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences that can
be drawn from the record. Pedersen v. Bio-Med.
Applications of Minn., 775 F.3d 1049, 1053 (8th Cir.
2015). If the nonmoving party fails to present evidence
sufficient to establish an essential element of a claim on
which that party bears the burden of proof, then the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
state a claim pursuant to section 1983, LeMay must allege
that Drs. Mazoch and Stephenson acted under color of state
law and that they violated a right secured by the
constitution. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48, 107
S.Ct. 2250, 2254-55, 101 L.Ed.2d 40 (1988); Dunham v.
Wadley, 195 F.3d 1007, 1009 (8th Cir. 1999). The
doctors, as employees of a public university, acted under
color of state law for purposes of section 1983 when treating
LeMay. See West, 487 U.S. at 54, 107 S.Ct. at 2259.
LeMay alleges that the doctors violated his Eighth Amendment
right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by
providing him with inadequate medical care.
sustain a claim based on inadequate medical care, LeMay must
show that he suffered from an objectively serious medical
need that Drs. Mazoch and Stephenson subjectively knew about
but deliberately disregarded. Jackson v. Buckman,
756 F.3d 1060, 1065 (8th Cir. 2014). In other words, LeMay
must make the following showings: (1) Drs. Mazoch and
Stephenson leaving the third pin in LeMay's wrist created
an objectively serious medical injury, (2) Drs. Mazoch and
Stephenson knew of the injury and deliberately disregarded
it, and (3) their actions caused LeMay's injury. See
Gibson v. Weber, 433 F.3d 642, 646 (8th Cir. 2006).
defendants argue that LeMay cannot show that he suffered a
serious medical injury nor that they deliberately disregarded
the injury. Deliberate disregard for a serious medical need
“requires a mental state ‘akin to criminal
recklessness.'” Jackson, 756 F.3d at 1065
(quoting Gordon v. Frank, 454 F.3d 858, 862 (8th
Cir. 2006)). LeMay must present facts showing “more
than negligence, more even than gross negligence” to
show that the doctors acted with deliberate indifference.
Jolly v. Knudsen, 205 F.3d 1094, 1096 (8th Cir.
2000). Because LeMay has not alleged, let alone presented,
any evidence that demonstrates that Drs. Mazoch and
Stephenson deliberately disregarded his medical needs, the
Court need not determine whether LeMay suffered an
objectively serious medical injury.
merely alleges that Drs. Mazoch and Stephenson falsely told
him that the third pin must have fallen out on its own and
was no longer in his wrist. Document #62 at 1-2. LeMay argues
that the doctors knowingly lied to him because LeMay is an
“inmate with no insurance instead of a regular paying
customer with insurance, and the[y] just wanted to be
finished with him.” Document #61 at 3. But LeMay has
not presented any evidence to support this argument. The
evidence shows only that the doctors placed three pins in
LeMay's wrist initially, and when his cast was removed,
the doctors removed two of the pins but left one pin in his
wrist. The defendants have offered testimony from Dr. Brian
D. Norton that a buried pin “does not require
treatment, or even removal, unless it becomes located in a
problematic area (such as a joint), or if the patient begins
to experience discomfort.” Document #53-10 at 1-2,
¶ 4. LeMay does not allege that he was in pain when he
had his cast and the two pins removed on September 8, 2014.
When Dr. Stephenson became aware of LeMay's discomfort,
he scheduled an appointment for the third pin to be removed.
LeMay has not shown that Drs. Mazoch and Stephenson
“actually knew of but deliberately disregarded”
the pain caused by the third pin. See Jolly, 205
F.3d at 1096 (quotation and citation omitted).
defendants' motion for summary judgment is ...