Fegan v. Siddiq (INAMTE2)

Filing 24

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER granting the 14 Motion for Summary Judgment, dismissing the case with prejudice, and taxing costs against Plaintiff for which execution may issue. Signed by Honorable Terry F. Moorer on 7/29/2010. (br, )

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F e g a n v. Siddiq (INMATE2) D o c . 24 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA N O R T H E R N DIVISION _______________________________ K E IT H FEGAN P l a in tif f , v. T A H IR SIDDIQ, M.D., D e f e n d a n t. _______________________________ * * * * * 2:08-CV-890-TFM (WO) M E M O R A N D U M OPINION P la in tif f filed this 42 U.S.C. 1983 action while he was incarcerated at the Bullock C o rre c tio n a l Facility ["Bullock"] in Union Springs, Alabama.1 Plaintiff complains that D e f en d a n t Tahir Siddiq, M.D. ["Dr. Siddiq"] denied him adequate medical care for a broken w rist he sustained prior to his arrival at the prison. Plaintiff seeks trial by jury and requests th a t the court "examine the case for 8 th Amendment violation." (Doc. No. 1.) D e f en d a n t filed a special report and supporting evidentiary materials addressing P la in tif f 's claims for relief. In accordance with the orders of the court, Plaintiff was in f o rm e d that Defendant's special report may, at any time, be treated as a motion for su m m a ry judgment, and the court explained to Plaintiff the proper manner in which to re sp o n d to a motion for summary judgment. This case is now pending before the court on 1 During the pendency of this action Plaintiff was released from this facility. Dockets.Justia.com D e f e n d a n t's motion for summary judgment and Plaintiff's opposition to the motion. (Doc. N o s . 14, 19.) Upon consideration of motion, the evidentiary materials filed in support there o f, and Plaintiff's opposition, the court concludes that Defendant's motion for summary ju d g m e n t shall be granted. I . STANDARD OF REVIEW "S u m m a ry judgment is appropriate 'if the pleadings, depositions, answers to in te rro g a to rie s, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show there is no g e n u i n e issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a m a tte r of law.'" Greenberg v. BellSouth Telecomm., Inc., 498 F.3d 1258, 1263 (11 th Cir. 2 0 0 7 ) (per curiam) (citation omitted); Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 56(c) (Summary judgment "should b e rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits sh o w that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to ju d g m e n t as a matter of law.").2 The party moving for summary judgment "always bears the in itia l responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying th o s e portions of the [record, including pleadings, discovery materials and affidavits], which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. C a tre tt, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The movant may meet this burden by presenting evidence w h ic h would be admissible at trial indicating there is no dispute of material fact or by Effective December 1, 2007, "[t]he language of Rule 56 [was] amended ... to make the rule[] more easily u n d ersto o d and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes ... are stylistic only." Fe d .R .C iv.P . 56 Advisory Committee Notes. Thus, although Rule 56 underwent stylistic changes, its substance rem ain s the same and, therefore, all cases citing the prior rule remain equally applicable to the current rule. 2 2 s h o w in g that the nonmoving party has failed to present evidence in support of some element o f its case on which it bears the ultimate burden of proof. Id. at 322-324. Defendant has met his evidentiary burden. Thus, the burden shifts to Plaintiff to e sta b lish , with appropriate evidence beyond the pleadings, that a genuine issue material to h is case exists. Clark v. Coats and Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11 th Cir. 1991); Celotex, 4 7 7 U.S. at 324; Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2) ("When a motion for summary judgment is properly m a d e and supported, an opposing party may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its o w n pleading; rather, its response must ... set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for tria l." ). A genuine issue of material fact exists when the nonmoving party produces evidence th a t would allow a reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict in its favor. Greenberg, 498 F .3 d at 1263. To survive Defendant's properly supported motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff is required to produce "sufficient [favorable] evidence" establishing proper exhaustion of a d m in is tra tiv e remedies. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). "If the e v id e n c e [on which the nonmoving party relies] is merely colorable ... or is not significantly p ro b a tiv e ... summary judgment may be granted." Id. at 249-250. "A mere `scintilla' of e v id e n c e supporting the opposing party's position will not suffice; there must be enough of a showing that the [trier of fact] could reasonably find for that party. Anderson v. Liberty L o b b y , 477 U.S. 242, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2512, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)." Walker v. Darby, 911 F .2 d 1573, 1576-1577 (11 th Cir. 1990). Conclusory allegations based on subjective beliefs 3 a re likewise insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact and, therefore, do not su ff ice to oppose a motion for summary judgment. Waddell v. Valley Forge Dental A s s o c ia te s, Inc., 276 F.3d 1275, 1279 (11 th Cir. 2001); Holifield v. Reno, 115 F.3d 1555, 1 5 6 4 n.6 (11 th Cir. 1997) (plaintiff's "conclusory assertions ..., in the absence of [admissible] su p p o rtin g evidence, are insufficient to withstand summary judgment."); Harris v. Ostrout, 6 5 F.3d 912, 916 (11 th Cir. 1995) (grant of summary judgment appropriate where inmate p ro d u c e s nothing beyond "his own conclusory allegations...."); Fullman v. Graddick, 739 F .2 d 553, 557 (11 th Cir. 1984) ("mere verification of party's own conclusory allegations is n o t sufficient to oppose summary judgment...."). Hence, when a plaintiff fails to set forth s p e c if ic facts supported by appropriate evidence sufficient to establish the existence of an e lem e n t essential to his case and on which the plaintiff will bear the burden of proof at trial, s u m m a ry judgment is due to be granted in favor of the moving party. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 3 2 2 ("[F]ailure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case n e c e ss a rily renders all other facts immaterial."); Barnes v. Southwest Forest Industries, Inc., 8 1 4 F.2d 607, 609 (11 th Cir. 1987) (if on any part of the prima facie case the plaintiff presents in s u f f ic ie n t evidence to require submission of the case to the trier of fact, granting of su m m ary judgment is appropriate). F o r summary judgment purposes, only disputes involving material facts are relevant. U n ited States v. One Piece of Real Property Located at 5800 SW 74 th Avenue, Miami, F lo r id a , 363 F.3d 1099, 1101 (11 th Cir. 2004). What is material is determined by the 4 s u b s ta n tiv e law applicable to the case. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Lofton v. Secretary of the D e p a rtm e n t of Children and Family Services, 358 F.3d 804, 809 (11 th Cir. 2004) ("Only f a ctu a l disputes that are material under the substantive law governing the case will preclude e n try of summary judgment."). "The mere existence of some factual dispute will not defeat s u m m a ry judgment unless that factual dispute is material to an issue affecting the outcome o f the case." McCormick v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 333 F.3d 1234, 1243 (11 th Cir. 2003) (citatio n omitted). To demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact, the party opposing s u m m a ry judgment "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt a s to the material facts.... Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier o f fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no `genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita E le c . Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). In cases where the e v id e n c e before the court which is admissible on its face or which can be reduced to a d m iss ib le form indicates that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the party m o v in g for summary judgment is entitled to it as a matter of law, summary judgment is p ro p e r. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-324 (summary judgment appropriate where pleadings, e v id e n tia ry materials and affidavits before the court show there is no genuine issue as to a re q u isite material fact); Waddell, 276 F.3d at 1279 (to establish a genuine issue of material f a c t, the nonmoving party must produce evidence such that a reasonable trier of fact could return a verdict in his favor). A lth o u g h factual inferences must be viewed in a light most favorable to the 5 n o n m o v in g party and pro se complaints are entitled to liberal interpretation by the courts, a p r o se litigant does not escape the burden of establishing by sufficient evidence a genuine is s u e of material fact. Beard v. Banks, 548 U.S. 521, 529 (2006); Brown v. Crawford, 906 F .2 d 667, 670 (11 th Cir. 1990). Thus, Plaintiff's pro se status alone does not mandate this c o u rt's disregard of elementary principles of production and proof in a civil case. In this c a se , Plaintiff fails to demonstrate a requisite genuine issue of material fact in order to p re c lu d e summary judgment. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. II. DISCUSSION P lain tiff states that he arrived at Bullock with a broken wrist. As he describes it, " [ m ] y arm is sitting on top of my wrist." Plaintiff claims that his wrist needs to be rebroken a n d reset but complains that Dr. Siddiq will not listen to him and is making him suffer b e c a u s e he is an inmate. (Doc. No. 1.) Dr. Siddiq denies subjecting Plaintiff to unconstitutionally inadequate medical care. U p o n Plaintiff's arrival at Bullock in February 2008, Dr. Siddiq observed that he had an old h e a le d fracture of his right wrist. According to the medical history given by Plaintiff, he had p r e v io u sly been treated for the fracture to his right wrist.3 (Doc. No. 14, Exh. A - Siddiq A ffid a v it and Medical Records.) D r. Siddiq issued Plaintiff limited profiles due to his complaints of wrist pain Plaintiff's medical records reflect that he sustained the injury to his wrist in September 2007, prior to being incarcerated, and received treatment at an emergency room. Plaintiff's medical records further indicate that the fracture to his wrist healed without having been properly set. (Doc. No. 14, Exh. A - Medical Records.) 3 6 inclu d ing a lower bunk profile, no prolonged standing, restricted weight lifting, and work re s tric tio n s . Dr. Siddiq also provided Plaintiff with a sling during his incarceration. X-rays o f Plaintiff's right wrist taken in March and June of 2008 failed to show any fractures or d is lo c a tio n s and no evidence of instability. (Doc. No. 14, Exh. A - Siddiq Affidavit and M e d ic a l Records.) An outside orthopedist, Dr. Chung, examined Plaintiff on June 5, 2008 due to his c o n tin u e d complaints of right wrist pain. After examining Plaintiff, Dr. Chung determined th a t surgical intervention would not resolve Plaintiff's pain because the fracture had already h e a led . Accordingly, Dr. Siddiq continued to treat Plaintiff's wrist pain with the use of pain m e d ic a tio n such as Ibuprofen and Percogesic. (Doc. No. 14, Exh. A - Siddiq Affidavit and M e d ic a l Records.) To prevail on a claim concerning an alleged denial of adequate medical treatment in v io la tio n of the Eighth Amendment, an inmate must, at a minimum, show that the defendant a c te d with deliberate indifference to his health. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976) (" In order to state a cognizable claim, a prisoner must allege acts or omissions sufficiently h a rm f u l to evidence deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. It is only such in d if f e r e n c e that can offend `evolving standards of decency' in violation of the Eighth A m e n d m e n t." ). When seeking relief based on deliberate indifference of prison medical p e rso n n e l, an inmate is required to establish "an objectively serious need, an objectively in s u f f ic ie n t response to that need, subjective awareness of facts signaling the need and an 7 a c tu a l inference of required action from those facts." Taylor v. Adams, 221 F.3d 1254, 1258 (1 1 th Cir. 2000); McElligott v. Foley, 182 F.3d 1248, 1255 (11 th Cir. 1999) (for liability to attac h , the official must know of and then disregard an excessive risk to the prisoner); W a ld r o p v. Evans, 871 F.2d 1030, 1033 (11 th Cir. 1989); Rogers v. Evans, 792 F.2d 1052, 1 0 5 8 (11 th Cir.1986). Consequently, deliberate indifference occurs only when a defendant " k n o w s of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the [defendant] must b o th be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of s e rio u s harm exists and he must also draw the inference." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 8 3 7 (1994); Johnson v. Quinones, 145 F.3d 164, 168 (4 th Cir. 1998) (defendant must have a c tu a l knowledge of a serious condition, not just knowledge of symptoms, and ignore known ris k to serious condition to warrant finding of deliberate indifference). Furthermore, "an o f f icia l's failure to alleviate a significant risk that he should have perceived but did not, w h ile no cause for commendation, cannot under our cases be condemned as the infliction of p u n is h m e n t." Farmer, 511 U.S. at 838. In articulating the scope of inmates' right to be free from deliberate ind iffe ren ce , however, the Supreme Court has also emphasized that not `every c la im by a prisoner that he has not received adequate medical treatment states a violation of the Eighth Amendment.' Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105, 97 S.Ct. at 2 9 1 ; Mandel, 888 F.2d at 787. Medical treatment violates the eighth a m e n d m e n t only when it is `so grossly incompetent, inadequate, or excessive a s to shock the conscience or to be intolerable to fundamental fairness.' R o g e r s , 792 F.2d at 1058 (citation omitted). Mere incidents of negligence or m a lp r a c tic e do not rise to the level of constitutional violations. See Estelle, 4 2 9 U.S. at 106, 97 S.Ct. at 292 (`Medical malpractice does not become a c o n stitu tio n a l violation merely because the victim is a prisoner.'); Mandel, 888 F .2 d at 787-88 (mere negligence or medical malpractice `not sufficient' to 8 c o n stitu te deliberate indifference); Waldrop, 871 F.2d at 1033 (mere medical m a lp ra c tice does not constitute deliberate indifference). Nor does a simple d if f e re n c e in medical opinion between the prison's medical staff and the in m a te as to the latter's diagnosis or course of treatment support a claim of c ru e l and unusual punishment. See Waldrop, 871 F.2d at 1033 (citing Bowring v . Godwin, 551 F.2d 44, 48 (4 th Cir.1977)). H a r r is v. Thigpen, 941 F.2d 1495, 1505 (11 th Cir. 1991). Moreover, "whether government a c to rs should have employed additional diagnostic techniques or forms of treatment `is a c la ss ic example of a matter for medical judgment' and therefore not an appropriate basis for lia b ility under the Eighth Amendment." Adams v. Poag, 61 F.3d 1537, 1545 (11 th Cir. 1995). To be deliberately indifferent, Defendants must have been "subjectively a w a re of the substantial risk of serious harm in order to have had a `"su f f ic ie n tly culpable state of mind."'" Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834-38, 114 S .C t. at 1977-80; Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 299, 111 S.Ct. 2321, 2324-25, 1 1 5 L.Ed.2d 271 (1991).... Even assuming the existence of a serious risk of h a rm and causation, the prison official must be aware of specific facts from w h ich an inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm e x is ts --a n d the prison official must also "draw that inference." Farmer, 511 U .S . at 837, 114 S.Ct. at 1979. Carter v. Galloway, 352 F.3d 1346, 1349 (11 th Cir. 2003). Thus, to survive summary ju d g m e n t on his claim of deliberate indifference, Plaintiff is "required to produce sufficient e v id e n c e of (1) a substantial risk of serious harm; (2) the defendant's deliberate indifference to that risk; and (3) causation." Hale v. Tallapoosa County, 50 F.3d 1579, 1582 (11 th Cir. 1 9 9 5 ). The evidentiary materials before the court show that medical personnel routinely e x a m in e d and evaluated Plaintiff for his complaints of wrist pain and responded in a c c o rd a n c e with their evaluations to his complaints and requests for treatment. (Doc. No. 14, 9 E x h . A - Siddiq Affidavit and Medical Records.) The medical records also establish that Dr. S id d iq secured specialist consultations to evaluate Plaintiff's condition and also prescribed re le v a n t medications in an effort to control Plaintiff's wrist pain. (Id.) Additionally, the e v id e n tia ry materials demonstrate that medical personnel issued various medical profiles w h e n their observations of Plaintiff indicated the need for such action. (Id.) This court has conducted a thorough review of all the evidentiary materials submitted b y the parties in this case. After such review, the court concludes that the course of treatment u n d e rta k e n by Dr. Siddiq was neither grossly incompetent nor inadequate. Although Plaintiff c la im s that he was "denied everything [he] . . . asked for from splint, alternative medication, a c e bandage" (Doc. No. 19), his mere desire for a different treatment modality does not establish deliberate indifference. Waldrop, 871 F.2d at 1033; Hamm v. DeKalb County, 774 F.2d 1567, 1 5 7 5 (11 th Cir. 1985). To the extent Plaintiff relies on his dissatisfaction with the medical tre a tm e n t he received as a basis for relief, this case presents "`a classic example of a matter f o r medical judgment' which is not an appropriate basis for liability under the Eighth A m e n d m e n t." Adams, 61 F.3d at 1545. Moreover, Plaintiff has failed to come forward with any evidence showing that Dr. Siddiq knew that the manner in which he was treating him created a substantial risk to Plaintiff and he disregarded that risk. In the absence of such a showing by Plaintiff, Dr. Siddiq is entitled to judgment in his favor which will be entered. III. CONCLUSION In light of the foregoing, Defendant's motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 14) 10 is GRANTED, this case is DISMISSED with prejudice, and costs are taxed against Plaintiff f o r which execution may issue. A separate Judgment and Order follows. D o n e , this 29 th day of July 2010. /s/Terry F. Moorer TERRY F. MOORER U N IT E D STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 11

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