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Richardson v. Kelley

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

February 6, 2019



         I. Procedure for Filing Objections:

         This Recommended Disposition (Recommendation) has been sent to Judge James M. Moody Jr. Any party may file written objections with the Clerk of Court. To be considered, objections must be filed within 14 days. Objections should be specific and should include the factual or legal basis for the objection.

         If parties do not file objections, they risk waiving the right to appeal questions of fact. And, if no objections are filed, Judge Moody can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing the record.

         II. Discussion:

         A. Background

         Every Richardson, an Arkansas Department of Correction (“ADC”) inmate, filed this lawsuit without the help of a lawyer under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Docket entry #2) Mr. Richardson claims that Defendants Kelley and Griffin violated his eighth amendment rights by their deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. The Court previously dismissed Mr. Richardson's claims arising prior to July 2016. (#28) Defendants have now moved for summary judgment on Mr. Richardson's remaining claims against them. (#33) Mr. Richardson has not responded to the motion, and the time for responding to the motion has passed. (#36)

         B. Standard

         In a summary judgment, the Court rules in favor of a party before trial. A party is entitled to summary judgment if the evidence, viewed in a light most favorable to the party on the other side of the lawsuit, shows that there is no genuine dispute about any fact important to the outcome of the case. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 and Odom v. Kaizer, 864 F.3d 920, 921 (8th Cir. 2017).

         C. Deliberate-Indifference Claim

         A public official's “deliberate indifference to a prisoner's serious illness or injury” violates the Eighth Amendment ban against cruel punishment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105 (1976). “Deliberate indifference” is evidenced, however, only when “the official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official must both be aware of the facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994).

         Negligence, even gross negligence, is insufficient to establish liability. Fourte v. Faulkner County, Arkansas, 746 F.3d 384, 387 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Jolly v. Knudsen, 205 F.3d 1094, 1096 (8th Cir. 2000)). Defendants can be held liable only if their actions were “so inappropriate as to evidence intentional maltreatment or a refusal to provide essential care.” Dulany v. Carnahan, 132 F.3d 1234, 1240-1241 (8th Cir. 1997) (citing Smith v. Jenkins, 919 F.2d 90, 93 (8th Cir. 1990)). See also Allard v. Baldwin, 779 F.3d 768, 771-72 (8th Cir. 2015) (to prevail on Eighth Amendment claim, inmate must show defendant's mental state was akin to criminal recklessness).

         Furthermore, mere disagreement with treatment decisions does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation. Langford v. Norris, 614 F.3d 445, 460 (8th Cir. 2010). Stated another way, “[i]n the face of medical records indicating that treatment was provided and physician affidavits indicating that the care provided was adequate, an inmate cannot create a question of fact by merely stating that ‘he did not feel' he received adequate treatment.” Dulany, 132 F.3d at 1240.

         Here, Mr. Richardson's medical records prove that from June 2016 through December 2017, he was consistently treated for wounds to his lower extremities. During that time, Mr. Richardson's wounds were evaluated, and his dressings were changed almost always on a weekly basis, and sometimes more frequently. (#35-5 at pp.184-86, 178-81, 175-76, 173, 170, 168, 166, 163-65, 159-60, 155, 152, 147, 142-43, 140, 137-38, 131-36, 126-27, 123-24, 121, 118, 109-12, 106-9, 101-4, 95-96, 93, 91, 86-88, 79-81, 73-77, 71, 69, 65-68, 61-63, 59, 54-57, 49-52, 46, 42, 41, 39, 37, 34, 29-30, 12, 6, 3-4, 2) Mr. Richardson was also consistently provided an unna boot between June 2016 and September 2016, and again from April 2017 through September 2017. (Id. at pp.184-85, 181, 179, 177, 176, 175, 173, 170, 168, 166, 163-65, 160, 159, 86-88, 81, 79-80, 77, 76, 73-74, 71, 69, 67-68, 66, 63, 61-62, 59, 57, 55, 51-52, 49-50, 46, 42, 39, 37, 34, 30)

         In Dr. Jeffrey Stieve's declaration attached to the Defendants' motion for summary judgment, he explains that “[a]n unna boot is a special dressing that is infused with medication that is used on open wounds on a person's lower extremities.” (#35-4 at p.3) During the time period at issue, if medical personnel determined that Mr. Richardson's wounds did not require an unna boot or a more complex dressing, ...

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