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Badger v. Loe

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division

August 1, 2019

CRAYTONIA LATOY BADGER PLAINTIFF
v.
SHERIFF MIKE LOE, Columbia County, Arkansas; DOUG WOOD, Chief Deputy, Columbia County Sheriff Department; GREG HAWLEY, Jail Administrator; Columbia County Jail; DARYL ELKINS, Medical Doctor; and KELLY BLAIR, Investigator, Columbia County Jail DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Susan O. Hickey Chief United States District Judge

         Before the Court is Defendants Mike Loe, Doug Wood, Greg Hawley, Dr. Daryl Elkin[1], and Kelly Blair's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 42) and a Supplement to the motion (ECF No. 51). Plaintiff has filed a response. (ECF No. 46). However, Plaintiff has not filed a response to the Supplement, and the time to do so has passed.[2] The Court finds this matter ripe for consideration.

         BACKGROUND

         This is a civil rights action filed pro se by Plaintiff, Craytonia Latoy Badger, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Correction (“ADC”) East Arkansas Regional Unit in Marianna, Arkansas. Plaintiff's claims in this action arise from alleged incidents that occurred while he was incarcerated in the Columbia County Detention Center (“CCDC”) in Magnolia, Arkansas.

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on April 25, 2018, in the Eastern District of Arkansas. (ECF No. 2). On April 27, 2018, Plaintiff amended his Complaint seeking immediate injunctive relief.[3]The case was transferred to the Western District of Arkansas, El Dorado Division, on May 1, 2018. (ECF No. 8).

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges numerous claims against Defendants arising from incidents that occurred during his incarceration in the CCDC between May of 2015 and April of 2018. Plaintiff's claims include denial of adequate medical care, discrimination, unlawful conditions of confinement, falsifying medical documentation, and inadequate responses to grievances.

         Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants denied him medical care when they refused to arrange for him to have surgery to remove a knot on his head and failed to provide him with his mental health medication. (ECF No. 2, pp. 20-23). Plaintiff also alleges Defendant Elkin “falsified” documentation in his medical file in order to make it appear that Plaintiff had been seen and treated by him. Id. at p. 17. In addition, Plaintiff claims Defendant Elkin discriminated against him because he treated Plaintiff differently than he did his private patients who were not incarcerated. He also alleges that Defendant Wood discriminated against him when he allowed another inmate to be seen by a mental health doctor and denied Plaintiff's request to be seen the following day. Id. at pp. 15, 19, 23-24. Plaintiff also claims he was subjected to unlawful conditions of confinement by Defendants Elkin, Hawley, Wood, and Loe when another inmate urinated on the floor thereby “contaminat[ing] of our [environment] with his waste.” Id. at p. 15. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants failed to adequately respond to grievances he submitted while he was in the CCDC. Id.

         Plaintiff sues Defendants Loe, Wood, and Hawley in both their individual and official capacities. He sues Defendants Elkin and Blair in their individual capacities only. (ECF No. 2, p. 12). He seeks damages and injunctive relief. (ECF No. 5).

         On January 24, 2019, Defendants filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment arguing that they are entitled to summary judgment because: (1) there is no proof of any personal involvement by Defendant Loe; (2) Defendants were not deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical needs; (3) Plaintiff was not subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement; (4) Plaintiff does not have a constitutional right to a grievance response; (5) Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity; and (6) there is no basis for official capacity liability because there is no unconstitutional policy implemented by Defendants that violated Plaintiff's rights. (ECF No. 42).

         On April 9, 2019, Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to Defendants' motion and a separate Statement of Facts arguing that there are genuine issues of material fact which preclude summary judgment.[4] (ECF Nos. 46, 47). Plaintiff also argued that Defendants failed to address the claims of discrimination and falsifying documents. That same day the Court directed Defendants to supplement their summary judgment motion to address Plaintiff's claims regarding discrimination and the falsification of documents. (ECF No. 48).

         On May 3, 2019, Defendants supplemented the summary judgment motion arguing: (1) Plaintiff was not discriminated against based on the medical care provided by Defendant Elkin; (2) Defendants did not falsify any healthcare documents and did not deprive Plaintiff of necessary medical care; (3) Defendants did not discriminate against Plaintiff by refusing his request to go to a mental health doctor; (4) Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity; and (5) there is no unconstitutional policy implemented by Defendants that violated Plaintiff's rights, and therefore no basis for official capacity liability. (ECF No. 51). To date, Plaintiff has not filed a response to Defendants' Supplement.[5]

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate if, after viewing the facts and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving 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 jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).

         DISCUSSION

         The Court will first address Plaintiff's various claims relating to denial of medical care. Then the Court will take up Plaintiff's discrimination, conditions of confinement, and inadequate grievance procedure claims. Finally, the Court will examine whether Defendants Loe, Wood, and Hawley are entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff's official capacity claims.

         A. Denial of Medical Care

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants denied him medical care. The Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment prohibits deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of prisoners. Luckert v. Dodge Cnty., 684 F.3d 808, 817 (8th Cir. 2012). To prevail on his Eighth Amendment claim, Plaintiff must prove that Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). The deliberate indifference standard includes “both an objective and a subjective component: ‘The [Plaintiff] must demonstrate (1) that [he] suffered [from] objectively serious medical needs and (2) that the prison officials actually knew of but deliberately disregarded those needs.'” Jolly v. Knudsen, 205 F.3d 1094, 1096 (8th Cir. 2000) (quoting Dulany v. Carnahan, 132 F.3d 1234, 1239 (8th Cir. 1997)).

         To show he suffered from an objectively serious medical need, Plaintiff must show he “has been diagnosed by a physician as requiring treatment” or has an injury “that is so obvious that even a layperson would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention.” Schaub v. VonWald, 638 F.3d 905, 914 (8th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation and citation omitted). To establish the subjective prong of deliberate indifference, “the prisoner must show more than negligence, more even than gross negligence, and mere disagreement with treatment decisions does not give rise to the level of a constitutional violation. Deliberate indifference is akin to criminal recklessness, which demands more than negligent misconduct.” Popoalii v. Corr. Med. Serv., 512 F.3d 488, 499 (8th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation and citation omitted). A plaintiff must show that an official “actually knew of but deliberately disregarded his serious medical need.” Gordon v. Frank, 454 F.3d 858, 862 (8th Cir. 2006). However, intentionally denying or delaying access to medical care may constitute deliberate indifference. See Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104-05; Dulany, 132 F.3d at 1239.

         1. Defendant Loe

         Plaintiff alleges Defendant Loe denied him medical care because he failed “to approve the cost of the plaintiff to have the ‘knot' on his head exam[ined] and removed.” (ECF No. 2, pp. 3, 21). Defendant Loe argues he is entitled to summary judgment because he was not involved with the medical care provided to Plaintiff and consequently was not deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's medical needs.

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege facts, which if proven true, would demonstrate that the named defendants violated the plaintiff's federal constitutional rights while acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). Although federal courts must view pro se pleadings liberally, such pleadings may not be merely conclusory. The complaint must allege facts, which if true, state a claim as a matter of law. Martin v. Aubuchon, 623 F.2d 1282, 1286 (8th Cir. 1980); see also Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985) (“[a]lthough it is to be liberally construed, a pro se complaint must contain specific facts supporting its conclusions”).

         At the time of the events in question, Defendant Loe was the Sheriff of Columbia County. General responsibility for supervising a detention center is insufficient to establish personal involvement. Reynolds v. Dormire, 636 F.3d 976, 981 (8th Cir. 2011). “Liability under section 1983 requires a causal link to, and direct responsibility for, the deprivation of rights. To establish personal liability on the part of a defendant, [the plaintiff] must allege specific facts of personal involvement in, or direct responsibility for, a deprivation of [his] constitutional rights.” Clemmons v. Armontrout, 477 F.3d 962, 967 (8th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation and citation omitted).

         In support of the instant motion for summary judgment, Defendant Elkin submitted an affidavit stating in relevant part:

No one in the Sheriff's office, including the Sheriff, makes any decision as to whether or not [to] provide a particular medication, diagnostic testing, or medical treatment based on the cost of the medication, testing, or treatment…I do not consult with the Sheriff regarding any medical decision or treatment for an inmate under my care. I did not consult Sheriff Loe regarding medications or treatment decisions for the Plaintiff. I did not speak to Sheriff Loe about the cost of Plaintiff's medication[.]

(ECF No. 44-7). Here, there is no summary judgment evidence Defendant Loe was involved in providing medical care to Plaintiff. Accordingly, Plaintiff's claim for denial of medical care against Defendant Loe fails as a matter of law and Defendant Loe is entitled to summary judgment.

         2. Denial of Surgery

          Plaintiff alleges Defendants Wood, Hawley, Blair, and Elkin denied him medical care because they refused to authorize surgery to remove the knot on Plaintiff's head during his ...


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