United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is the Report and Recommendation
("R&R") (Doc. 59) of the Honorable Erin L.
Wiedemann, United States Magistrate Judge for the Western
District of Arkansas, submitted in this case on July 21,
2017, regarding a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 45) filed
by Defendant Tyranny Ray, who is a licensed practical nurse
employed by Southern Health Partners, an entity that
contracts with the Benton County Detention Center
("BCDC") to serve the medical needs of its inmates;
and a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 48) filed by
Defendants Sergeant McElroy, Deputy Kelley, Corporal Scott,
and Captain Jeremy Guyll. The Magistrate Judge recommends
granting Defendant Ray's Motion. She also recommends
granting the remaining Defendants' Motion with respect to
claims against Defendant Guyll and all official-capacity
claims against Defendants' employer, Benton County,
Arkansas, but denying the Motion as to the individual claims
against Defendants McElroy, Kelley, and Scott. None of the
Defendants filed objections to the R&R, but on August 3,
2017, Plaintiff Francisco Vega-Sanchez filed objections (Doc.
Court has conducted a de novo review as to all
specified proposed findings and recommendations to which Mr.
Vega-Sanchez has raised objections. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1). As is explained in further detail below,
the objections are OVERRULED, and the
R&R is APPROVED AND
R&R recites the facts of the case in such detail that
there is no need to restate them all here. Suffice it to say
that Mr. Vega-Sanchez makes two separate claims regarding the
alleged violation of his constitutional rights while he was
an inmate at the BCDC. First, he maintains that he was
subjected to an excessive use of force by certain BCDC
officials while he was escorted from one pod to another,
immediately following an altercation with an inmate on
December 31, 2015. The Magistrate Judge recommends denying
summary judgment to Defendants McElroy, Kelley, and Scott,
with regard to the excessive-force claims. These Defendants
did not object to this recommendation, and these claims will
be set for trial by separate order.
second claim is that his Eighth Amendment rights were
violated as a result of the care he received at the BCDC
after he returned from the hospital following the December 31
incident. He was treated at the hospital for a broken rib and
a cut over his left eye. When he returned to jail, officials
placed him in disciplinary segregation for a period of 30
days, as punishment for his involvement in the fight with the
other inmate. It is the BCDC's policy to limit the number
of hours that an inmate in disciplinary segregation may have
a sleeping mat. The mat is available eight hours a day, but
only during the evening hours, and is otherwise removed from
the inmate's cell.
Vega-Sanchez explains that he submitted multiple requests to
be allowed to keep his mat all day, every day, for the 30
days he was in disciplinary segregation, as he believed that
he needed to lie on his mat during the day to speed the
healing of his broken rib. He accuses Captain Guyll of
wrongly referring his grievances to Nurse Ray, instead of
dealing with the grievances himself. He accuses Nurse Ray of
being deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs
in denying his requests for an all-day mat. In his
deposition, Mr. Vega-Sanchez testified that he continues to
experience pain in his ribcage area when he works out, moves
forcefully, or lies on his side, and he blames Nurse Ray for
these lasting injuries.
Magistrate Judge in the R&R recommended granting summary
judgment to Nurse Ray, finding that nothing in the summary
judgment record supported Mr. Vega-Sanchez's claim that
he had a serious medical need that warranted having a mat
during the daytime hours. According to the Magistrate Judge,
it was clear that Nurse Ray's decision with regard to the
all-day mat request did not deviate from the applicable
standard of care or indicate deliberate indifference to a
serious medical need. Mr. Vega-Sanchez disagrees with the
Magistrate Judge, and in his objections to the R&R argues
that Nurse Ray should stand trial for her decision to deny
him the all-day mat while he was in disciplinary segregation.
As for Mr. Vega-Sanchez's claims against Captain Guyll,
it appears that he agrees Captain Guyll was not personally
involved with any of the events that occurred on December 31
that comprise the excessive force claim. Instead, Mr.
Vega-Sanchez alleges that Captain Guyll should remain in the
lawsuit because he is "the administrative taskmaster,
supervisor and officer responsible for implementation of the
policies and customs of the jail." (Doc. 60, p. 6).
Finally, Mr. Vega-Sanchez objects to the dismissal of the
official-capacity claims against Benton County, arguing that
further discovery is needed in order to determine whether the
officers' use of excessive force was pursuant to a County
custom or policy. All of these objections to the R&R will
be addressed below.
standard of review for summary judgment is well established.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), "[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 Bee. Co., 135 F.3d 1211, 1212-13
(8th Cir. 1997). The moving party bears the burden of proving
the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact and that it
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 56(c); Matsushita Bee. Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986); Natl Bank
of Commerce of El Dorado, Ark. v. Dow Chem. Co., 165
F.3d 602 (8th Cir. 1999). Once the moving party has met its
burden, the non-moving party must "come forward with
'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial.'" Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)).
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)).
"The 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." Registerv.
Honeywell Fed. Mfg. & Techs., LLC, 397 F.3d 1130,
1136 (8th Cir. 2005) (citing Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986)).
Dismissal of Nurse Ray
Vega-Sanchez argues in his objections that the Magistrate
Judge misunderstood his claim against Nurse Ray. To the
contrary, it appears to the Court that the relevant facts set
forth in the R&R exactly match those that Mr.
Vega-Sanchez lists in his objections, namely that: (1) he
suffered a broken rib, and (2) Nurse Ray decided that his
medical condition did not warrant deviating from the routine