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Vance v. Hudson

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division

January 26, 2018



         The following Proposed Findings and Recommendation have been sent to United States District Judge Billy Roy Wilson. You may file written objections to all or part of this Recommendation. If you do so, those objections must: (1) specifically explain the factual and/or legal basis for your objection; and (2) be received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation. By not objecting, you may waive the right to appeal questions of fact.


         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff David Vance, an inmate in the custody of the Arkansas Department of Correction (“ADC”), filed this pro se civil rights complaint against ADC employee Shirley Hudson in both her individual and official capacities. See Doc. No. 2. Vance seeks injunctive relief and punitive damages for the defendant's alleged violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Id. at 8. Specifically, Vance alleges that Hudson was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs by not allowing him to go inside during yard call and by not calling for medical help sooner after he passed out in the yard. Id. at 5-7. Vance also alleges that Hudson kicked him and pulled on his arm while he was passed out. Id. at 6.

         Other defendants were previously dismissed from this lawsuit. See Doc. Nos. 25 & 30. Before the Court are Hudson's motion for summary judgment, supporting brief, and statement of undisputed material facts (Doc. Nos. 45-47); Vance's response, supporting brief, declaration, and response to Hudson's statement of undisputed material facts (Doc. Nos. 54-57); and Hudson's reply (Doc. No. 58). The statements of facts, and the other pleadings and exhibits in the record, establish that material facts are not in dispute and Hudson is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law.

         II. Standard of Review

         Under Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is proper “if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 321 (1986). When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the evidence in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Naucke v. City of Park Hills, 284 F.3d 923, 927 (8th Cir. 2002). The nonmoving party may not rely on allegations or denials, but must demonstrate the existence of specific facts that create a genuine issue for trial. Mann v. Yarnell, 497 F.3d 822, 825 (8th Cir. 2007). The nonmoving party's allegations must be supported by sufficient probative evidence that would permit a finding in his favor on more than mere speculation, conjecture, or fantasy. Id. (citations omitted). A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that it could cause a reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party; a fact is material if its resolution affects the outcome of the case. Othman v. City of Country Club Hills, 671 F.3d 672, 675 (8th Cir. 2012). Disputes that are not genuine or that are about facts that are not material will not preclude summary judgment. Sitzes v. City of West Memphis, Ark., 606 F.3d 461, 465 (8th Cir. 2010).

         III. Facts[1]

         On the afternoon of July 21, 2015, Hudson was on post on the South Hall Yard of the Cummins Unit where a group of inmates, including Vance, were at yard call. Doc. No. 45-4; Doc. No. 45-2 at 2; Doc. No. 45-1 at 6; Doc. No. 57 at 1. Vance had been outside for between one and two hours playing horseshoes.[2] Doc. No. 45-1 at 8; Doc. No. 57 at 1. Around 3 p.m., shortly before yard call was scheduled to be over, Vance approached Hudson, told her that he was going to fall out, and asked to step inside the door to cool off.[3] Doc. No. 45-4; Doc. No. 45-1 at 6; Doc. No. 57 at 1. Vance told Hudson he had diabetes and high blood pressure. Doc. No. 57 at 1. Hudson instructed Vance that yard call was not yet over, and she instructed him to go drink some water and to sit down. Doc. No. 45-4; Doc. No. 45-1 at 6; Doc. No. 45-5 at 1-2; Doc. No. 57 at 1-2. Inmates on yard call are not permitted to come and go as they please, due to security concerns, including minimizing the introduction of contraband into the prison. Doc. No. 45-4. Inmates are only allowed to enter the building during yard call to use the restroom. Id.

         Vance walked away and passed out. Doc. No. 45-1 at 6; Doc. No. 57 at 2. Vance does not know whether he fell backward or forward when he passed out. Doc. No. 57 at 2. Vance reported occasional dizziness and lightheadedness for several months before the incident at issue here. Doc. No. 45-5 at 4; Doc. No. 45-1 at 20-21. Vance had no history of passing out prior to this incident. Doc. No. 45-5 at 3. Hudson was not aware of Vance's short history of occasional dizziness and lightheadedness. Doc. No. 45-4.

         After Vance walked away, Hudson noticed a group of inmates gathered around, and she ran over and saw that Vance was on the ground. Doc. No. 45-4. Hudson claims she did not touch Vance, and she ran off the inmates who were gathered around him, telling them to go inside because yard call had concluded. Doc. No. 45-4. Based on Hudson's training, it was her responsibility to ensure that no one but medical staff touched an inmate who is unconscious but not in need of immediate life-saving treatment. Doc. No. 45-4. Hudson believed that Vance was merely feigning passing out. Doc. No. 45-4. Vance testified that he “understand[s] that, because a lot of people does [sic] just try to get over on [the guards], you know.” Doc. No. 45-1 at 10. He elaborated, “I mean, you see this stuff all the time. I mean, you see how they play the guards. I mean, it's just - there always - this place is full of it.” Doc. No. 45-1 at 10-11. Even though Hudson believed that Vance was feigning passing out, based on her training, she called for medical staff to respond. Doc. No. 45-4.

         Medical staff received a code green call at 2:58 p.m. to respond to the South Hall Yard. Doc. No. 45-7; Doc. No. 45-5 at 1. At 2:59 p.m., medical staff responded with a wheelchair and conducted a sternum rub to rouse Vance.[4] Doc. No. 45-7; Doc. No. 45-5 at 2; Doc. No. 45-1 at 6. Vance had no awareness of what took place from the time that he passed out until the time that the medical staff arrived. Doc. No. 45-1 at 9.

         Vance arrived in the infirmary at 3:11 p.m. Doc. No. 45-5 at 2; Doc. No. 45-7. Medical staff placed a cool damp towel and cold packs on Vance's forehead, neck, and wrists, gave him some water to drink, and administered some blood pressure medication. Doc. No. 45-5 at 2; Doc. No. 45-1 at 7. The medical records state as follows:

[U]pon arrival inmate lyin on back on ground, this nurse performs sternal rub with minimal response. He is fluttering his eye lids, resp even non labored, Nurse Snow on scene and she gets him to respond to her. He opens eyes, he states he does not think he is injured, he is assisted to sitting position and he sits there for a minute, he is then assisted up to w/c and transported to infirmary. His skin tones are red, (he does have a natural redness on his face from his ADC photos). His vital signs are slightly elevated, he is calm, drinking some water, a cool damp towel is placed over his head to help absorb the heat. He is ...

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