Harris v. Shahla et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION and ORDER DISMISSING CASE that the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is DENIED; Defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED and all claims asserted by plaintiff are DISMISSED; plaintiff's motion for leave to take defendants' depositions is DENIED as moot; costs are taxed as paid as more fully set out in order. Signed by Judge C Lynwood Smith, Jr on 7/22/2014. (AHI )
2014 Jul-22 AM 10:36
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
MS. SHAHLA, Chronic Care,
DR. STUBBS, M.D., and MS.
AMBROSKI, CMS Department
Civil Action No. CV-13-S-1617-NE
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff, Victor Harris, who is proceeding pro se and is an inmate within the
State of Alabama prison system, filed this action on July 24, 2013, in the Circuit
Court of Limestone County, Alabama.1 He asserted claims against several persons
associated with the provision of medical services at the Limestone Correctional
Facility in Limestone County, Alabama: i.e., Poursaied Shahla, a Certified Nurse
Practitioner;2 Randy Stubbs, a physician and the Medical Director;3 and Karen
Doc. no. 1 (Notice of Removal), at Exhibit 1 (Complaint).
Plaintiff identified this defendant in his complaint as “Ms. Shahla, Chronic Care.”
Complaint, at 1. However, in their Notice of Removal, defendants clarify that the reference is to
“Poursaied Shahla, . . . an individual employed as a Certified Nurse Practitioner at the Limestone
Correctional Facility.” Notice of Removal ¶ 7.
Plaintiff identified this defendant in his complaint as “Dr. Stubbs, MD.” Complaint, at 1.
However, in their Notice of Removal, defendants clarify that the reference is to “Dr. Randy Stubbs,
. . . an individual employed as the Medical Director at the Limestone Correctional Facility.” Notice
of Removal ¶ 6.
Ambroski, the Health Services Administrator.4
Plaintiff labeled his complaint as asserting a claim for “Violation of the Eighth
Amendment Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and Rehabilitation
Act.”5 He asserts that epileptic inmates, like himself, “are being discriminated against
on the basis of disability (EPILEPSY) in violation of Title II of the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act,
29 U.S.C. 794.”6 He alleges that the medical staff at the Limestone Correctional
Facility, where he was incarcerated at the time he filed the complaint, “utilize a
discriminatory medical-clearance policy when deciding which inmates to send to
work-release facilities.”7 Plaintiff contends that he was wrongfully placed on a
medical hold because he had been falsely noted to be non-compliant with his seizure
medication.8 Because of that medical hold, plaintiff was denied participation in a
Defendants removed the case to this court, asserting federal subject matter
Plaintiff identified this defendant in his complaint as “Ms. Ambroski, CMS Dept. Head.”
Complaint, at 1. However, in their Notice of Removal, defendants clarify that the reference is to
“Karen Ambroski, . . . an individual employed as the Health Services Administrator of the Limestone
Correctional Facility.” Notice of Removal ¶ 5.
Complaint, at 1.
Id. at 3 (alteration supplied).
Id. at 5.
jurisdiction based on plaintiff’s ADA claim.10 The case presently is before the court
on the following motions: (1) defendants’ motion for summary judgment on all of
plaintiff’s claims;11 (2) plaintiff’s own motion for summary judgment on all of his
claims;12 and (3) plaintiff’s motion for leave to depose the defendants.13 Upon
consideration of the motions, pleadings, briefs, and evidence, the court concludes that
defendants’ motion for summary judgment should be granted, plaintiff’s motion for
summary judgment should be denied, and plaintiff’s motion for leave to take
defendants’ depositions should be denied as moot.
I. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARDS
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that a court “shall grant summary
judgment if the movant 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). In
other words, summary judgment is proper “after adequate time for discovery and
upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party’s case, and on which that party will
bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
Notice of Removal ¶¶ 2, 8-9, 14.
Doc. no. 5.
Doc. no. 21. Plaintiff’s motion is incorporated into his opposition to defendants’ motion
for summary judgment.
Doc. no. 28.
“In making this determination, the court must review all evidence and make all
reasonable inferences in favor of the party opposing summary judgment.” Chapman
v. AI Transport, 229 F.3d 1012, 1023 (11th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (quoting Haves v.
City of Miami, 52 F.3d 918, 921 (11th Cir. 1995)). Inferences in favor of the nonmoving party are not unqualified, however. “[A]n inference is not reasonable if it is
only a guess or a possibility, for such an inference is not based on the evidence, but
is pure conjecture and speculation.” Daniels v. Twin Oaks Nursing Home, 692 F.2d
1321, 1324 (11th Cir. 1983). Moreover,
[t]he mere existence of some factual dispute will not defeat summary
judgment unless that factual dispute is material to an issue affecting the
outcome of the case. The relevant rules of substantive law dictate the
materiality of a disputed fact. A genuine issue of material fact does not
exist unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party
for a reasonable jury to return a verdict in its favor.
Chapman, 229 F.3d at 1023 (quoting Haves, 52 F.3d at 921) (emphasis and alteration
supplied). See also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)
(asking “whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require
submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a
matter of law”).
“Cross motions for summary judgment do not change the
standard.” Latin Am. Music Co. v. Archdiocese of San Juan of the
Roman Catholic & Apostolic Church, 499 F.3d 32, 38 (1st Cir. 2007).
“‘Cross motions for summary judgment are to be treated separately; the
denial of one does not require the grant of another.’” Christian Heritage
Acad. v. Okla. Secondary Sch. Activities Ass’n, 483 F.3d 1025, 1030
(10th Cir. 2007) (quoting Buell Cabinet Co. v. Sudduth, 608 F.2d 431,
433 (10th Cir. 1979)). “Even where the parties file cross motions
pursuant to Rule 56, summary judgment is inappropriate if disputes
remain as to material facts.” Id.; accord Monumental Paving &
Excavating, Inc. v. Pa. Mfrs.’ Ass’n Ins. Co., 176 F.3d 794, 797 (4th Cir.
1999) (“When considering motions from both parties for summary
judgment, the court applies the same standard of review and so may not
resolve genuine issues of material fact. Instead, [the court must]
consider and rule upon each party’s motion separately and determine
whether summary judgment is appropriate as to each under the Rule 56
standard.”) (citations omitted).
Ernie Haire Ford, Inc. v. Universal Underwriters Insurance Co., 541 F. Supp. 2d
1295, 1297-98 (M.D. Fla. 2008) (alteration in original). See also American Bankers
Insurance Group v. United States, 408 F.3d 1328, 1331 (11th Cir. 2005) (“This court
reviews the district court’s disposition of cross-motions for summary judgment de
novo, applying the same legal standards used by the district court, viewing the
evidence and all factual inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the
non-movant, and resolving all reasonable doubts about the facts in favor of the
The basis for defendants’ motion for summary judgment is that none of them
have any control over whether inmates, including plaintiff, are assigned to a workrelease program; and, therefore, they cannot be held liable for any discrimination
related to work-release assignments. In support of that argument, defendants
submitted the affidavit of defendant Randy Stubbs, M.D. Dr. Stubbs states that he is
a physician employed by Corizon, Inc. (“Corizon”), an independent entity that
contracts with the Alabama Department of Corrections to provide health care services
to inmates.14 On September 5, 2013, when he executed the affidavit, Dr. Stubbs was
the Medical Director at the Limestone Correctional Facility, where plaintiff then was
incarcerated.15 Dr. Stubbs states that:
6. [Neither] Corizon, nor any of its medical providers, including
me, make[s] the determination of whether any inmate, including Victor
Harris, will be eligible for work release or not. That determination is
made solely by the Alabama Department of Corrections. Corizon,
through its contract with the Alabama Department of Corrections,
follows the Alabama Department of Corrections Regulations pertaining
to the medical coding given to each inmate dependent upon their
medical status and classification. . . . .
7. Corizon, and its medical providers, classify each inmate
according to the ALDOC criteria. . . . Thereafter, whether an inmate is
a candidate for the work release program or not is 100% determined and
controlled by the Alabama Department of Corrections and not by
Corizon or its medical providers.
Doc. no. 7 (defendants’ evidentiary submission), Exhibit A (Affidavit of Randy Stubbs,
M.D.) ¶ 2.
Id. ¶¶ 3-4. Plaintiff has since been transferred to a different facility, but at all times
relevant to the claims he asserted in this action, he was at the Limestone Correctional Facility. See
doc. no. 21 ¶ 7 (“Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at the Red Eagle Honor Farm in Montgomery,
12. Mr. Harris’ erratic blood work results [were] provided to the
Department of Corrections pursuant to the Alabama Department of
Corrections’ policies. The Department of Corrections’ regulations set
forth that therapeutic lab values for each inmate on prescribed
medications have to be provided to the Department of Corrections. The
therapeutic lab values with regard to the blood drawn from Mr. Harris
is regularly provided to the Department of Corrections pursuant to
Department of Corrections’ policies.
13. Thereafter, the Department of Corrections determines
whether an inmate such as Mr. Harris is or is not a candidate for the
work release program.
14. Neither I, as the Medical Director of the Limestone
Correctional Facility, nor Poursaied Shahla, CRNP, the Certified Nurse
Practitioner (CRNP), nor Karen Amborski, the Health Services
Administrator at the Limestone Correctional Facility have any power or
control to determine whether an inmate is or is not eligible for the
Alabama Department of Corrections’ work release program.
18. Nothing that the medical providers at the Limestone
Correctional Facility have done have [sic] caused and/or contributed to
Mr. Harris either being accepted into or denied work release status with
the Alabama Department of Corrections.16
In response, plaintiff disputes defendants’ assertion that they have no control
over whether an inmate is assigned to a work release program. According to plaintiff,
“Corizon, and its employees, including the defendants[,] have control over who is
able to be placed on work release by the opinion that it gives to the ADOC
Id. ¶¶ 6-7, 12-14, 18 (alterations supplied).
concerning each inmate.”17 In other words, plaintiff asserts that defendants can
indirectly control how an inmate is classified by ADOC by making certain notations
on the inmate’s health record.
Plaintiff did not offer any evidence to support his assertions, or to dispute the
assertions made in Dr. Stubbs’ affidavit. That is not sufficient to satisfy plaintiff’s
burden of demonstrating a genuine issue of material fact, even considering plaintiff’s
pro se status. Instead, the undisputed facts presented to the court establish that
defendants have no control over whether plaintiff is allowed to participate in a workrelease program. Defendants, therefore, cannot be held liable for discrimination
based on plaintiff’s non-assignment to such a program.
II. CONCLUSION AND ORDERS
In accordance with the foregoing, plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment is
DENIED. Defendants’ motion for summary judgment is GRANTED, and all claims
asserted by plaintiff are DISMISSED. Plaintiff’s motion for leave to take defendants’
depositions is DENIED as moot.
Costs are taxed as paid. The Clerk is directed to close this file.
DONE this 22nd day of July, 2014.
United States District Judge
Doc. no. 11 (plaintiff’s response brief), at 4 (alteration supplied).
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