Story v. Stovall et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Honorable Barry A. Bryant on September 17, 2012. (cap)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
CIVIL NO. 4:10-cv-04160
SHERIFF RON STOVALL;
and NURSE CARMILLITA
This is a civil rights action filed by Plaintiff, Carl Story, pursuant to the provisions of 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis. The parties have consented to the
jurisdiction of a magistrate judge to conduct any and all proceedings in this case, including
conducting the trial, ordering the entry of a final judgment, and conducting all post-judgment
proceedings. ECF No. 43.
Currently before the Court is Separate Defendant, Sheriff Ron Stovall’s, Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 33) and Separate Defendant, Nurse Carmillita Williams’s Motion
for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 29). Plaintiff requested the aide of the Court in responding to
these Motions. ECF No. 38. The Court propounded a questionnaire, and Plaintiff returned it as
his Responses to Separate Defendants’ Motions for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 42. This matter
is ripe for consideration.
As this case is before the Court on Separate Defendants’ Motions for Summary Judgment,
the Court will assume the facts as stated by Plaintiff, the non-moving party, in his Response to
Motion for Summary Judgment are true. The events that are the subject of this lawsuit occurred
while Plaintiff was incarcerated in the Miller County Detention Center (“MCDC”) in Texarkana,
Arkansas. ECF No. 21, p. 1. Plaintiff alleges his constitutional rights were violated when he was
denied and/or delayed medical care; denied access to the courts; and denied access to a grievance
procedure. ECF No. 21. Plaintiff has brought this action against Separate Defendants in both their
official and individual capacities. ECF No. 42, ¶ 27.
Specifically, Plaintiff claims he fractured his left heel, on September 26, 2010, while getting
off of the top bunk. ECF No. 21, p. 4. Plaintiff notified the medical unit of his injury on
September 27, 2010. ECF No. 42, ¶ 2. He was already receiving 800 milligrams of Ibuprofen and
was instructed to ice and elevate his heel. ECF No. 42, ¶¶ 3, 5. On September 28, 2010, Plaintiff
was examined by Dr. Nash, at the MCDC, and Dr. Nash ordered x-rays of Plaintiff’s foot. ECF
No. 42, ¶ 7. After two attempts, Plaintiff was taken to Ark-La-Tex Health Center, on October 13,
2010, to have an x-ray on his foot. ECF No. 42, ¶¶ 8, 10, 12-14. On October 26, 2010, Plaintiff
was examined by Dr. Smolarz, an orthopedic surgeon, and Dr. Smolarz recommended Plaintiff
wear a fixed brace as treatment for his fractured heel. ECF No. 42, ¶ 18. Dr. Smolarz contacted
Nurse Williams for approval of this treatment and she approved such treatment on October 26,
2010. ECF No. 42, ¶ 19. Plaintiff claims he was “left to suffer and endure acute debilitating, and
sever physical and mental anguish and pain . . .” as a result of these actions by Nurse Williams and
Sheriff Stovall. ECF No. 21, p. 7.
Plaintiff also claims that during the “time period relevant to August 18, 2010," Sheriff
Stovall (1) denied him access to the courts; (2) denied him an effective offender grievance system;
(3) denied him access to a black or dark-blue ink pen to prepare legal documents; (4) denied him
access to white typing paper; (5) denied him access to a law library and legal research material;
(6) denied him ability to prepare and file effective writ of habeas corpus; (7) established policies,
rules, and regulations controlling the employees of the MCDC; (8) denied him adequate writing
paper, envelopes, and postage stamps; and (9) denied him unlimited photocopying. ECF No. 21.
The 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). A dispute is genuine if the evidence could cause a reasonable jury to return a
verdict for either party, see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-2 (1986), and a fact
is material if it affects the outcome of the case, id. at 248. The moving party has the burden of
showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and that they are entitled to judgment as
a matter of law, but the nonmoving party may not rest upon mere denials or allegations in the
pleadings and must set forth specific facts to raise a genuine issue for trial. See Anderson, 477
U.S. at 256; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). The Court must view all evidence
and inferences in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See McCleary v. ReliaStar Life
Ins. Co., 682 F.3d 1116, 1119 (8th Cir. 2012). However, “[w]hen 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).
Nurse Williams argues she was not deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff’s broken heel, and
Sheriff Stovall argues Plaintiff has failed to allege any policy or custom to support his official
capacity claims; Plaintiff cannot show Sheriff Stovall denied him medical care or access to the
courts; and Plaintiff’s claims regarding the grievance procedure at MCDC are not cognizable under
Official capacity claims
Plaintiff claims Separate Defendants violated his constitutional rights in both their official
and individual capacities. Sheriff Stovall argues Plaintiff has failed to show that a policy or
custom of Miller County was the moving force behind any alleged constitutional violations.
Under Section 1983, a defendant may be sued in either his individual capacity, or in his
official capacity, or in both. In Gorman v. Bartch, 152 F.3d 907 (8th Cir.1998), the Eighth Circuit
Court of Appeals (“Eighth Circuit”) discussed the distinction between individual and official
capacity suits. As explained by the Gorman case:
Claims against government actors in their individual capacities differ from those in their
official capacities as to the type of conduct that is actionable and as to the type of defense
that is available. See Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 112 S.Ct. 358, 116 L.Ed.2d 301 (1991).
Claims against individuals in their official capacities are equivalent to claims against the
entity for which they work; they require proof that a policy or custom of the entity violated
the plaintiff's rights, and the only type of immunity available is one belonging to the entity
itself. Id. 502 U.S. at 24–27, 112 S.Ct. at 361–62 (1991). Personal capacity claims, on the
other hand, are those which allege personal liability for individual actions by officials in
the course of their duties; these claims do not require proof of any policy and qualified
immunity may be raised as a defense. Id. 502 U.S. at 25–27, 112 S.Ct. at 362.
Gorman, 152 F.3d at 914.
Plaintiff has not proffered any facts to support his claim that a custom or policy of Miller
County was the moving force behind his claimed constitutional rights violations. ECF No. 21;
ECF No. 42, ¶¶ 27-8. Therefore, there is no basis on which Miller County may be held liable.
See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690–91 & n. 55, 694 (1978) (plaintiff seeking
to impose liability on local government body under Section 1983 must show official policy or
widespread custom or practice of unconstitutional conduct that caused a deprivation of
Denial or delay of medical care
Plaintiff claims Nurse Williams and Sheriff Stovall denied or delayed his medical care for
his fractured heel. Nurse Williams argues she was not deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff’s medical
needs, and Sheriff Stovall argues among other things that (1) Plaintiff cannot meet the subjective
component of a denial of medical care claim against him; and (2) Plaintiff’s claim must fail
because he cannot offer any evidence of a detrimental effect on his health that resulted from any
delay in treatment.
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals analyzes both a pretrial detainee and a convicted
inmate's claims of inadequate medical care under the deliberate indifference standard. See Butler
v. Fletcher, 465 F .3d 340, 344 (8th Cir. 2006). To prevail on his denial of medical care claim,
Plaintiff must prove that Separate 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 that 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 quotations and citations omitted).
“For a claim 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. Correctional Med. Servs, 512 F.3d
488, 499 (8th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
It is well settled that a “prisoner's mere difference of opinion over matters of expert medical
judgment or a course of medical treatment fail[s] to rise to the level of a constitutional violation.”
Nelson v. Shuffman, 603 F.3d 439, 449 (8th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks and citations
omitted). An “inmate must clear a substantial evidentiary threshold to show the prison's medical
staff deliberately disregarded the inmate's needs by administering inadequate treatment.” Id.
Despite this, issues of fact exist when there is a question of whether or not medical staff exercised
independent medical judgment and whether the decisions made by medical staff fell so far below
the reasonable standard of care as to constitute deliberate indifference. See Smith v. Jenkins, 919
F.2d 90, 93 (8th Cir. 1990).
Deliberate indifference may also be manifested by “prison guards in intentionally denying
or delaying access to medical care or intentionally interfering with the treatment once prescribed.”
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104–05 (1976). However, the “Constitution does not require
jailers to handle every medical complaint as quickly as each inmate might wish.” Jenkins v. County
of Hennepin, Minn., 557 F.3d 628, 633 (8th Cir. 2009). The objective seriousness of delay in
treatment must be measured by reference to the effect of delay, which must be shown by verifying
medical evidence in the record. Laughlin v. Schriro, 430 F.3d 927, 929 (8th Cir. 2005). However,
when the need for medical attention is obvious to a layperson, the plaintiff need not submit
verifying medical evidence to show the detrimental effects of delay. See Schaub v. VonWald, 638
F.3d 905, 919 (8th Cir. 2011) (citing Roberson v. Bradshaw, 198 F.3d 645, 648 (8th Cir. 1999);
Boyd v. Knox, 47 F.3d 966, 969 (8th Cir. 1995) (“noting that a delay in treatment, coupled with
knowledge that an inmate is suffering, can support a finding of an Eighth Amendment violation”).
It is undisputed that Plaintiff received 800 milligrams of Ibuprofen and was instructed to
elevate and ice his foot on September 27, 2010—the day Plaintiff informed the MCDC medical
staff of his fall; Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Nash at the MCDC on September 28, 2011—two (2)
days after his fall—and Dr. Nash recommended an x-ray of Plaintiff’s foot; an appointment for the
x-ray was scheduled for October 7, 2010; Plaintiff’s prescription for Ibuprofen was renewed for
an additional thirty (30) days on October 5, 2010; MCDC officers were unable to transfer Plaintiff
to his x-ray appointment on October 7, 2010; Plaintiff’s foot was x-rayed on October 13,
2010—seventeen (17) days after his fall—revealing a nondisplaced longitudinal fracture of the
calcaneous; and Plaintiff was examined and placed in a fixed brace by orthopedic surgeon, Dr.
Smolarz, on October 26, 2010—thirty (30) days after his fall. ECF No. 42, ¶¶ 2-5, 7, 9-10, 13-14,
Accordingly, there is no genuine issue of material fact as to whether Plaintiff was denied
medical care, he was not denied medical care.
The remaining issue is whether Separate Defendants were deliberately indifferent in
delaying Plaintiff’s medical care.1
Neither Nurse Williams nor Sheriff Stovall dispute that Plaintiff suffered from an
objectively serious medical need.
Nurse Williams does not dispute the fact that MCDC officers could not transport Plaintiff
to his x-ray appointment on October 7, 2010. However, in her affidavit, she states she had no
control over the transportation of inmates for outside medical services, or the scheduling practices
of the Ark-La-Tex Health Center (x-ray center) and Orthopedic Specialists of Texarkana (Dr.
Smolarz’s office). ECF No. 30, Ex. 1. In response, Plaintiff asserts, under penalty of perjury, that
Nurse Williams was in charge of scheduling the appointments for medical attention. ECF No. 42,
¶¶ 11, 17. Nurse Williams scheduled Plaintiff appointments to have his foot x-rayed. The record
indicates Plaintiff was scheduled for an x-ray on October 7, 2010 at Ark-La-Tex Health Center and
a copy of the appointment notation was given to “Capt. Jack.” ECF No. 30, Ex. D. A second
appointment was scheduled on October 13, 2010 with Ark-La-Tex Health and “Capt. Jack” was
notified. ECF No. 30, Ex. E.2 Plaintiff does not assert any facts indicating that Nurse Williams’s
responsibility for scheduling appointments also included coordinating the transportation to such
appointments. Considering the facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, there is no evidence
on the record indicating Nurse Williams was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff’s medical needs.
See e.g., Johnson v. Hamilton, 452 F.3d 967, 973 (8th Cir. 2006) (the delay of a month from the
time the plaintiff’s finger was tentatively diagnosed as fractured and the x-ray of the finger was
held to be merely negligent).
In his Response, Plaintiff states that Sheriff Stovall was involved in the denial of his
There is no notation on the appointment slip for Dr. Smolarz, however, Plaintiff’s
transportation to this appointment was not delayed.
medical care because Sheriff Stovall is responsible for Plaintiff’s care while he is incarcerated at
Sheriff Stovall first contends Plaintiff has not met the subjective component of a delay of
medical care claim against him because he cannot show Sheriff Stovall actually knew of his
injuries. Plaintiff claims, under penalty of perjury, that he sent the October 6, 2010 Grievance
directly to Sheriff Stovall. ECF No. 42, ¶ 26 (referencing the original Complaint).3 Sheriff Stovall
states in his affidavit that he did not receive a letter from Plaintiff in early October 2010. ECF No.
34, Ex. B. Clearly there are issues of fact as to whether Sheriff Stovall possessed actual
knowledge of Plaintiff’s injuries. However, considering the facts in the light most favorable to
Plaintiff, the record does not support a finding that Sheriff Stovall was deliberately indifferent to
Plaintiff’s medical needs. See e.g., Johnson v. Hamilton, 452 F.3d 967, 973 (8th Cir. 2006) (the
delay of a month from the time the plaintiff’s finger was tentatively diagnosed as fractured and the
x-ray of the finger was held to be mere negligence).
Further, there is no verifying medical evidence on the record showing Plaintiff suffered a
detriment or his prognosis was negatively impacted as a result of the delay in treatment. Plaintiff
was released from MCDC on November 1, 2010. ECF No. 42, ¶ 20. Plaintiff had a follow-up
exam with Dr. Smolarz on November 18, 2010 at which time Dr. Smolarz noted Plaintiff had pain,
tenderness, and mild swelling in his heel and prescribed pain medication. Dr. Smolarz
The Court notes that Plaintiff did not include this claim in his Amended Complaint.
ECF No. 21. However, pro se pleadings should be liberally construed and held to less stringent
standards when facing a motion for summary judgment. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520
(1972); see also Lomholt v. Holder, 287 F.3d 683, 684 (8th Cir. 2002). Plaintiff references this
claim in his Response and Sheriff Stovall addressed the claim in his Motion for Summary
Judgment. Therefore, the Court will also address it herein.
recommended Plaintiff return in three to four weeks for an injection if his heel was not improved.
ECF No. 30, Ex. H. There is no evidence that Plaintiff returned to Dr. Smolarz for the injection.
The Court notes that delay in treatment coupled with knowledge that an inmate is suffering
can support a finding of an Eighth Amendment violation. Boyd, 47 F.3d at 969. Here, however,
the record does not show Plaintiff was suffering without medical treatment or that Sheriff Stovall
was deliberately indifferent to his medical need. Plaintiff does not dispute that he was receiving
Ibuprofen for the pain and was also advised to ice and elevate his foot by the MCDC medical staff
prior to his x-ray and examine by Dr. Smolarz. See Johnson v. Adams, Civil No. 11-2722, 452
Fed. Appx. 708 (8th Cir. 2012) (no genuine issue of material fact created when inmate’s fractured
finger was tapped, scheduled for x-ray, and orthopedic consult within approximately two and onehalf months from injury when no verifying medical evidence establishing detrimental effect of
delays). Therefore, the Court finds Plaintiff has failed to show the requisite facts that he suffered
a detriment or his prognosis was negatively impacted as a result of the delay in having his foot xrayed and examined by Dr. Smolarz.
Further, Sheriff Stovall states in his affidavit that he has no involvement in the day-to-day
operations of the MCDC. ECF No. 34, Ex. B. Plaintiff does not dispute this and instead seeks
to hold Sheriff Stovall liable as the overseer and because he created the policies and procedures.
A claim of deprivation of a constitutional right cannot be based on a respondeat superior theory
of liability. See Monell, 436 U.S. at 694. “[A] supervisor is not vicariously liable under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 for an employee’s unconstitutional activity.” White v. Holmes, 21 F.3d 277, 280 (8th Cir.
1994); see also Keeper v. King, 130 F.3d 1309, 1314 (8th Cir. 1997) (“general responsibility for
supervising the operations of a prison is insufficient to establish the personal involvement required
to support liability”). In other words, Sheriff Stovall cannot be held liable merely because he
supervises the individuals allegedly responsible for violating Plaintiff’s constitutional rights. Id.;
see also Mark v. Nix, 983 F .2d 138, 139–40 (8th Cir. 1993) (Section 1983 liability requires some
personal involvement or responsibility). There are no facts in the record indicating Sheriff Stovall
was personally involved in any way in the events complained of by Plaintiff. Keeper, 130 F.3d
at 1314 (no liability when no evidence that the defendants were doctors or were personally
involved in making medical decisions about treatment); Mark, 983 F.2d at 139-40 (section 1983
liability requires some personal involvement or responsibility).
Plaintiff claims Sheriff Stovall denied him access to the courts by denying him black or
dark blue ink pens to prepare legal documents; white typing paper; access to a law library and legal
research material; adequate writing paper, envelopes, and postage stamps; and unlimited
photocopying. ECF No. 21. Plaintiff also claims in his Amended Complaint that Sheriff Stovall
denied him the ability to prepare and file an effective writ of habeas corpus. ECF No. 21, p. 3.
Sheriff Stovall argues that Plaintiff has not shown an actual injury and thus, has not stated an
access claim. Additionally, Sheriff Stovall reiterates that he is not involved in the day-to-day
operations of the MCDC and did not deny Plaintiff pens, writing materials, envelopes, postage, and
The Supreme Court has held that “the fundamental constitutional right of access to the
courts requires prison authorities to assist inmates in the preparation and filing of meaningful legal
papers by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons
trained in the law.” Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 828 (1977). Nevertheless, Bounds “did not
create an abstract, freestanding right to a law library or legal assistance.” Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S.
343, 351 (1996). Instead, prison officials must provide inmates with “meaningful access to the
courts,” Bounds, 430 U.S. at 824, and providing a law library is merely one way to comply with
this obligation. See Bear v. Fayram, 650 F.3d 1120, 1123 (8th Cir. 2011) (the constitutional
requirement of access to the courts may be satisfied in a number of ways including, prison
libraries, jailhouse lawyers, private lawyers on contract with the prison, or some combination of
these and other methods). However, an inmate has no standing to pursue an access claim unless
he can demonstrate that he suffered prejudice or actual injury as a result of the prison officials’
conduct. See Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351-2; see also Farver v. Vilches, 155 F.3d 978, 979-980 (8th
Cir.1998) (per curiam); Klinger v. Dep't of Corr., 107 F.3d 609, 617 (8th Cir.1997) (to prevail on
an access-to-courts claim, inmate must show actual injury or prejudice even if denial of access to
library is complete and systematic); McMaster v. Pung, 984 F.2d 948, 953 (8th Cir. 1993). “To
prove a violation of the right of meaningful access to the courts, a prisoner must establish the state
has not provided an opportunity to litigate a claim challenging the prisoner’s sentence or conditions
of confinement in a court of law, which resulted in actual injury, that is, the hindrance of a
nonfrivolous and arguably meritorious underlying legal claim.” Hartsfield v. Nichols, 511 F.3d
826, 831 (8th Cir. 2008) (citations omitted).
Plaintiff is not entitled to both adequate assistance of counsel and adequate access to a law
library. Bounds, 430 U.S. at 828 (“the fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts
requires prison authorities to assist inmates in the preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers
by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in
the law.”); United States v. Kind, 194 F.3d 900, 905 (8th Cir.1999). The provision of adequate
legal assistance to an inmate satisfies his access rights and relieves the prison from providing
access to a law library. Schrier v. Halford, 60 F.3d 1309, 1313 (8th Cir. 1995). According to the
Eighth Circuit, the term “adequate” as used in Bounds to modify “assistance from persons trained
in the law” refers to the adequacy of the inmates access to counsel or other law-trained assistance.
Id. (citing Quam v. Minnehaha County Jail, 821 F.2d 522, 523 (8th Cir. 1987) (per curiam)
(regular access to a court-appointed attorney satisfies a Section 1983 plaintiff’s access rights)).
The prison must also provide inmates with “paper and pen to draft legal documents with
notarial services to authenticate them, and with stamps to mail them.” Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S.
at 824-5; see also Myers v. Hundley, 101 F.3d 542, 544 (8th Cir.1996)(citing Lewis v. Casey, 518
U.S. at 350-1). The duty to provide such allowances is constrained by the inmates' right of
meaningful access to the courts. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. at 824-5.
Plaintiff stated in his Response that he had an attorney to challenge his criminal conviction.
ECF No. 42, ¶ 23. Therefore, he is not also entitled to access to a law library. Plaintiff then
stated he was denied legal research to prepare and file legal documents in this Court but he was
able to send legal mail. ECF No. 42, ¶¶ 24, 25. The Court presumes Plaintiff is referring to his
ability to prosecute the present case. There are no facts before the Court indicating the Plaintiff
has been unable to present his claims in this case. Additionally, Plaintiff’s access rights do not
encompass the ability to “litigate effectively once in court.” Sabers v. Delano, 100 F.3d 82, 84
(8th Cir. 1996) (quoting Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 354 (1996)).
The Court notes that Plaintiff also alleged in his Complaint that he was denied the ability
to file an effective habeas petition. ECF No. 21, p. 3. However, Plaintiff did not mention this
claim in his Response and has not offered any facts supporting such a claim. Further, Plaintiff
stated in his Response, that he had an attorney to challenge his criminal conviction. ECF No. 42,
¶ 23. Therefore, the Court finds Plaintiff has failed to present facts of an actual injury resulting
from the denial of black or dark blue ink pens to prepare legal documents; white typing paper;
access to a law library and legal research material; adequate writing paper, envelopes, and postage
stamps; and unlimited photocopying.
Furthermore, there are no facts n the record showing Sheriff Stovall was personally
involved in denying Plaintiff black or dark blue ink pens to prepare legal documents; white typing
paper; access to a law library and legal research material; adequate writing paper, envelopes, and
postage stamps; and unlimited photocopying. As explained above a claim of deprivation of a
constitutional right cannot be based on a respondeat superior theory of liability. See Monell, 436
U.S. at 694.
Plaintiff claims he was denied an effective offender grievance system at MCDC. Sheriff
Stovall argues this is not a cognizable claim under Section 1983.
Previously, the Court recommended Sheriff Stovall’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleading
be denied on this issue even though the Court recognized that failure to respond to a grievance
does not, without more, equate to a constitutional violation. The Court declined to dismiss Sheriff
[C]ourts have recognized that a plausible theory exists if the Plaintiff maintains the
grievance procedure impeded his ability to obtain adequate medical care. Because [Sheriff
Stovall] designed or oversaw the grievance procedure, the argument runs, [he] may be held
liable if it resulted in the denial of constitutionally adequate treatment. This is a plausible
theory of the constitutional violation, and it fits comfortably under the rubric of deliberate
indifference. Langford v. Norris, 614 F.3d 445, 464 (8th Cir. 2010) (internal quotations
and citations omitted).
ECF No. 15.
This Order now considers a Motion for Summary Judgment rather than a Motion for
Judgment on The Pleadings, and thus a different standard of review applies. As held herein, there
are no facts on the record to indicate Plaintiff’s medical treatment was constitutionally inadequate.
Therefore, Sheriff Stovall cannot be held liable for a grievance procedure if it did not result in the
denial of constitutionally adequate treatment.
Furthermore, the Court notes Plaintiff does not have an independent constitutional right to
a grievance procedure. See Lomholt v. Holder, 287 F.3d 683, 684 (8th Cir. 2002) (quoting Buckley
v. Barlow, 997 F.2d 494, 495 (8th Cir.1993)). A jails failure to process an inmate’s grievances,
without more, is not actionable under section 1983. Buckley, 997 F.2d at 495.
For the reasons stated above, Separate Defendants’ Motions for Summary Judgment (ECF
Nos. 29 and 33) are hereby GRANTED and this case is dismissed with prejudice.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 17th day of September 2012.
/s/ Barry A. Bryant
HON. BARRY A. BRYANT
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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