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Jones v. Morehart

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Eastern Division

March 29, 2019




         The following proposed Findings and Recommendation have been sent to United States District Judge James M. Moody Jr. 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 Jeff Jones, an inmate at the Forrest City Low Federal Correctional Institution (“FCI-Forrest City”), filed this pro se civil rights complaint against defendants Warden C. Rivera, Assistant Health Services Administrator Michael Kruger, Assistant Health Services Administrator Brenda Hoy, and Mid-Level Practitioner Rosemary Stiles (the “Original Defendants”). See Doc. No. 2. Jones later named Advanced Practice Nurse Patricia Morehart and Dr. Sheila Woodard as defendants. See Doc. No. 35. Jones sues defendants in both their official and personal capacities and seeks both injunctive and monetary relief. See Doc. No. 2. Jones' claims against the Original Defendants have been dismissed, and Jones' official capacity claims against Morehart and Woodard have been dismissed. See Doc. Nos. 45 & 47.

         Jones alleges that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs and failed to protect him from harm. Doc. Nos. 2 & 32. Specifically, he alleges that there was a significant delay in notifying him of his positive hepatitis C diagnosis, which delayed his medical care and treatment of the condition for more than two and one-half years. Id. Jones further alleges that during this time he was prescribed the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) Naproxen for foot pain which negatively affected his condition. Id.

         Before the Court is a motion for summary judgment and related pleadings filed by defendants Morehart and Dr. Woodard. See Doc. Nos. 54-56. Although Jones requested and obtained an extension of time to file a response to the defendants' motion, he has not done so. See Doc. No. 61. Because Jones failed to specifically controvert the facts set forth in defendants' statement of uncontested facts, Doc. No. 56, those facts are deemed admitted. See Local Rule 56.1(c). The defendants' statement of uncontested facts, and the other pleadings and exhibits in the record, establish that the material facts are not in dispute and that the defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

         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. Undisputed Facts

         The following material undisputed facts are taken from those submitted by the defendants which are supported by the following documentary evidence: Declaration of Dr. Te Cora Ballom with Attachments 1-42 (Doc. No. 25-1); Declaration of Rosemary Stiles (Doc. No. 25-2); Declaration of Dr. Nwannem Obi-Okoye (Doc. No. 25-3); Declaration of Patricia Morehart with Attachments 1-3 (Doc. No. 55-1); and Declaration of Sheila Woodard with Attachments 1-9 (Doc.No. 55-2).[1]

         1. Jones began his incarceration at FCI-Forrest City on February 14, 2014. Doc. No. 25-1 at 1.

         2. Defendant Patricia Morehart is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse at the FCI-Forrest City Health Services Department. Doc. No. 55-1 at 1.

         3. Morehart has been employed by the Bureau of Prisons since January 12, 2014. Id.

         4. Morehart provided Jones a l4-day initial evaluation on March 13, 2014, after Jones entered FCI-Forrest City. Id. at 1 & 4-8. As part of the evaluation, she ordered initial laboratory tests. Id. at 1 & 7.

         5. On May 7, 2014, Morehart noted that Jones' liver functions were elevated and ordered testing to determine why. Id. at 1-2 & 11. While it was discovered that he had hepatitis C antibody, the finding had to be confirmed for RNA and genotype as well. Id. at 1-2.

         6. Laboratory results from May 16, 2014, show that Jones' liver enzymes were AST 187 and ALT 292; the report also indicated that he was presumptively hepatitis C positive. Doc. No. 25-1 at 2 & 16. Additional confirmation testing was requested. Id.

         7. On December 16, 2014, Morehart reviewed Jones' records, including laboratory results showing that Jones had HCV RNA and a genotype. Doc. No. 55-1 at 2 & 13. At that time, she requested follow up laboratory testing ...

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