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Green v. Burl

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

March 13, 2019




         The following proposed Findings and Recommendation has been sent to United States District Judge J. Leon Holmes. 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 Rickie Green filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on March 21, 2017, alleging that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. Doc. No. 2. Green sues Danny Burl, Juan Burns, Richard Clark, Lemarcus Davis, Aundrea Fitzgerald, Eva S. Jensen, Darnzell Miller, Carl E. Stout, Cedric Moore, and Jeremy Ridgle (the “ADC Defendants”) as well as Williams Benton, Erica Johnson, Estella Bland, and Ashley Mabry (the “Medical Defendants”). Id. The Court previously dismissed Green's claims against the Medical Defendants, Danny Burl, Aundrea Fitzgerald, Eva S. Jensen, and Carl E. Stout for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. See Doc. Nos. 57, 67, 105 & 107. The remaining defendants are Juan Burns, Richard Clark, Lemarcus Davis, Darnzell Miller, Cedric Moore, and Jeremy Ridgle. Green's official capacity claims for money damages against these defendants were previously dismissed as barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. See Doc. No. 54 & 60.

         Green alleges that he was diagnosed with a knee and leg condition while incarcerated at the Arkansas Department of Correction's (ADC) North Central Unit in May 2016. Doc. No. 2 at 6. Green claims that after his transfer to the Tucker Maximum Security Unit, the classification committee removed his medical restrictions related to this condition, and gave him a job assignment. Id. Green's claims against the remaining defendants arise from his work assignment. Those claims are: (1) that defendants Burns and Miller forced him to work even after he stated he had a no-duty or “lay-in” prescription on September 15, 2016;[1] (2) that Burns required him to work on September 26, 2016, despite being on a “lay-in” list, and that defendants Moore and Ridgle watched him fall while on work duty that day and did not help him; and (3) that Clark and Davis took Green's crutches away during chow hall, forcing him to walk on his injured leg to get his crutches. Doc. No. 105 at 12.

         The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, a brief in support, and a statement of facts asserting that they are entitled to summary judgment with respect to Green's claims (Doc. Nos. 150-152). Green filed a response (Doc. No. 76). For the reasons described herein, the undersigned recommends that defendants' motions for summary judgment be granted.

         II. Legal Standard

         Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is proper if “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute 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(a); 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). An assertion that a fact cannot be disputed or is genuinely disputed must be supported by materials in the record such as “depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials . . .”. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). A party may also show that a fact is disputed or undisputed by “showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). 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

         The facts listed below are taken from those submitted by defendants as supported by: the declaration of Aundrea Culclager (Doc. No. 150-1); a portion of Green's deposition testimony (Doc. No. 150-2); the declaration of Cynthia Gaines (Doc. No. 150-3); and the declaration of William Benton (Doc. No. 150-4). At the Court's request, defendants filed a complete transcript of Green's deposition testimony (Doc. No. 160).

         In a conclusory two-page response, Green does not dispute the specific facts asserted by defendants but generally alleges that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical condition. Green submitted with his response a copy of the ADC's employment conduct standards, a copy of the ADC's employee handbook, and a copy of his health restrictions.[2] Because Green's response does not specifically controvert the facts set forth in defendants' statement of undisputed facts, Doc. No. 152, those facts are deemed admitted. See Local Rule 56.1(c).

         September 15, 2016

         Green was assigned to field utility in September 2016. Doc. No. 150-1 at 1. His primary job duties were cutting vegetation around the unit and harvesting crops in the unit's garden. Id. Inmates working field utility usually report to work between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. Id. at 2. According to Culclager's affidavit, each unit maintains what is known as a “lay-in” list for work assignments. Id. at 1. This list informs ADC staff who is exempt from work on a given day. Id. An inmate may be placed on the lay-in list for a variety of reasons such as medical exemptions, classification, or school. Id. at 2. Placing a sick call does not automatically place an inmate on the lay-in list. Id. Sick call lists are different than lay-in lists. Id.; Doc. No. 150-3 at 2; Doc. No. 150-4 at 2. ...

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