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Jones v. Vowell

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

February 19, 2019




         This is a civil rights action filed by Plaintiff Ricky A. Jones pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis.

         Plaintiff is incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Correction (“ADC”). He maintains his constitutional rights were denied by the failure of Defendants to provide him with contact lenses and/or glasses for treatment of Marfan Syndrome (“MFS”).[1] Plaintiff has named Dr. Nannette Vowell, Richard Morgan, Nurse Gwendolyn Hart, and Nurse C. Robinson as defendants. He sues Defendants in both their individual and official capacities.

         The case is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 57). Plaintiff did not file a response to the Motion and the time to do so has passed.


         When Plaintiff was processed into the ADC, his medically prescribed contact lenses were confiscated.[2] Plaintiff indicates he was informed that contact lenses were forbidden and that he would be provided with eye glasses. However, he was given neither for a period of approximately two years. Plaintiff maintains Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need for eye wear in their continuing and ongoing failure to provide him with his prescribed contact lenses or eye glasses. According to Plaintiff, the delay caused him to develop glaucoma in both eyes and required him to have surgery on both eyes.

         Plaintiff states that on December 8, 2014, he was given an eye exam by Nurse Hart at the Ouachita River Correctional Unit (“ORCU”). Nurse Hart noted that Plaintiff's vision was impaired, he was supposed to wear contact lenses, did not have eye glasses, and could hardly see to sign his name. Although he filled out sick call slips, Plaintiff maintains that no attempt was made to accommodate him by providing contact lenses or eye glasses.

         On his second visit to the infirmary Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Vowell. Dr. Vowell issued Plaintiff a walking cane and advised him that he would be seen by someone else soon regarding his eye issues. Plaintiff was subsequently seen at the JEI by Dr. Uwaydat on August 27, 2015. Plaintiff indicates Dr. Uwaydat stated that eye glasses would do him no good and that if the ADC did not provide him with eye care he was in danger of going blind. Dr. Uwaydat prescribed Plaintiff contact lenses and Dr. Salter, another physician at the JEI, approved Plaintiff for contact lenses. However, Plaintiff maintains that Dr. Vowell failed to provide the contact lenses.

         Plaintiff submitted a grievance about the continuing delay and denial of eye care. Defendant Morgan responded that the prescribed contact lenses were not allowed in prison. Further, Defendant Morgan noted that Plaintiff had another appointment at JEI. Plaintiff notes that the ADC policy regarding contact lenses does not restrict inmates with certain eye conditions from having contact lenses. (ECF No. 1 at 18). Further, the policy states that “[i]nmates arriving at ADC with prescriptive lenses but no other prescriptive eyeglasses may retain and use the contact lenses until eyeglasses are provided by the medical department, and contact lens solution will be provided by the medical department until ADC compliant prescription eyewear is issued.” (Id.). On January 12, 2017, the lens from his left eye was removed. On March 30, 2017, the lens from his right eye was surgically removed.

         The present lawsuit concerns four grievances: OR-15-00397, OR-17-00592, OR-17-00976, and OR-16-01367.


         Summary judgment is appropriate if, after viewing the facts and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the record “shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). “Once a party moving for summary judgment has made a sufficient showing, the burden rests with the non-moving party to set forth specific facts, by affidavit or other evidence, showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists.” Nat'l Bank of Comm. v. Dow Chem. Co., 165 F.3d 602, 607 (8th Cir. 1999).

         The non-moving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586. “They must show there is sufficient evidence to support a jury verdict in their favor.” Nat'l Bank, 165 F.3d at 607 (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986)). “A case founded on speculation or suspicion is insufficient to survive a motion for summary judgment.” Id. (citing Metge v. Baehler, 762 F.2d 621, 625 (8th Cir. 1985)). “When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable ...

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