PETERSON v. MARVELL et al
ENTRY - Many material facts are in dispute making resolution of this action through summary judgment inappropriate. Accordingly, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 35 ) is DENIED. Signed by Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on 4/29/2013. Copy Mailed. (JD)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
LIEUTENANT R. MARVELL sued in his
individual and official capacities, under color
of state law, and OFFICER M. BALLARD
sued in his individual and official capacities,
under color of state law,
Case No. 1:11-cv-01122-TWP-MJD
ENTRY DENYING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Plaintiff Lawrence Peterson (“Mr. Peterson”), an inmate at the Pendleton Correctional
Facility (“Pendleton”), filed this civil rights complaint against Lt. R. Marvell (“Lt. Marvell”) and
Officer M. Ballard (“Officer Ballard”) (collectively, “Defendants”), both members of
Pendleton’s correctional staff. Mr. Peterson alleges Defendants were deliberately indifferent to
his serious medical needs by denying him access to the medical department for treatment of his
diabetes. In addition, Defendants allegedly placed Mr. Peterson in an unsafe and unhealthy area
for no reason. Defendants deny any wrongdoing and seek resolution of the claims alleged
against them through summary judgment.
For the reasons explained below, Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 35)
must be DENIED.
I. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
“As stated by the Supreme Court, summary judgment is not a disfavored procedural
shortcut, but rather is an integral part of the federal rules as a whole, which are designed to
secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action.” Harney v. Speedway
SuperAmerica, LLC, 526 F.3d 1099, 1103 (7th Cir. 2008) (citations omitted). The motion for
summary judgment in this civil rights action, as with any such motion, must be granted 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). The moving party bears “the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion,” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986), and must demonstrate that no genuine issue of material fact exists for
trial. Id. at 322. Once the moving party demonstrates that there is no genuine issue of material
fact, the non-moving party bears the burden of demonstrating that such a genuine issue of
material fact exists. See Harney, 526 F.3d at 1104 (citing cases).
As an initial matter, the Court notes its concerns with the “facts” presented by each party.
The first concern is with Mr. Peterson’s inadequate responses to the interrogatories served on
him. For example, at Interrogatory No. 2 Mr. Peterson is asked to identify all witnesses to the
events described in the Complaint. Mr. Peterson’s response is “N/A.” In the briefing of this
motion, however, Mr. Peterson submits a declaration from inmate Randy Johnson. Mr. Peterson
also states in his response that Nurse Dotson was at the gate and asked to be let out to attend to
Mr. Peterson, but Lt. Marvell denied her request. Dkt. No. 43. Finally, the Complaint states that
another Captain heard Mr. Peterson’s cries for help and saw his condition and immediately
called medical. These witnesses should have been listed in response to Interrogatory No. 2. The
second concern is Defendants’ alleged failure to respond to the interrogatories served on them
December 21, 2012. The proper management and efficient resolution of this action requires all
parties to respond in good faith to discovery.
In compiling the “facts” listed below the Court relied on Mr. Peterson’s Complaint
(signed under penalty of perjury), affidavit (Dkt. No. 43-4), and certain exhibits (Dkt. Nos. 43-1
and 43-2). See Payette v. Hoenisch, 284 Fed.Appx. 348, 350, 2008 WL 2648917, *1 (7th Cir.
2008) (finding district court erred by not considering the complaint as evidence on summary
judgment when the plaintiff declared under penalty of perjury that the complaint was true); Ford
v. Wilson, 90 F.3d 245, 247 (7th Cir. 1996) (to the extent that the complaint contains factual
assertions that comply with the requirements of Rule 56(e), it can be converted into an affidavit
by declaring it to be true under penalty of perjury and signing it). The following statement of
facts is not necessarily objectively true, but as the summary judgment standard requires, the
undisputed facts and the disputed evidence are presented in the light reasonably most favorable
to Mr. Peterson as the non-moving party. See Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530
U.S. 133, 150 (2000).
At all times relevant to the Complaint, Robert Marvell was a Correctional Lieutenant
and Michael Ballard was a Correctional Officer at Pendleton Correctional Facility, a maximum
security prison located in Pendleton, Indiana. On February 21, 2011, at 1:00 p.m., Mr. Peterson
was released from his cell (along with other diabetic prisoners) in order to go to the medical
facility to receive insulin. This inmate movement was routine and occurs at approximately the
same time each day.
Lt. Marvell was working near the facilities checkpoint 1. Mr. Peterson observed Lt.
Marvell unlocking the gate to the medical facility and allowing white inmates through the gate.
Lt. Marvell locked the gate as Mr. Peterson and other black inmates approached. Lt. Marvell
told Mr. Peterson he would not be receiving insulin today and to return to his housing unit. Mr.
Peterson requested to see a higher ranking staff member and refused to leave.1 In response, Lt.
Marvel ordered Mr. Peterson to put his hands behind him and “cuff up” and ordered Officer
Ballard to assist in restraining Mr. Peterson.
Lt. Marvel and Officer Ballard dragged Mr. Peterson across the yard to a holding cell
that was used for the temporary placement of offenders for a cool down period. A cool down
period helps reduce any possible physical incidents toward staff or other offenders while
offenders are in an agitated and/or uncontrollable state. The holding cells do not have a bed, sink
or toilet. The cell Mr. Peterson was placed in had one window located on the back wall that is
manually operated from the inside of the cell. Lt. Marvell opened the window letting in the cold
rain.2 Mr. Peterson was left cold,3 on the floor, in restraints, and without insulin for four hours.
At around 5:00 p.m., Mr. Peterson was finally escorted to the infirmary for evaluation and his
daily diabetic treatment. After placing Mr. Peterson in the holding cell at approximately 1:00
p.m., Officer Ballard had no further contact with Mr. Peterson.
Lt. Marvell and Officer Ballard each testified that Mr. Peterson was screaming and that they could not determine
what he wanted. This testimony is directly contradicted by the Report of Conduct issued by Lt. Marvell in which he
states that at 1:10 p.m. Mr. Peterson and another offender were yelling and demanding access to the infirmary gate.
Lt. Marvell asked why and they stated they were diabetics. Dkt. No. 43-1.
Lt. Marvel and Officer Ballard testified that the window is operated from within the cell leaving the option of
opening or closing the window at the discretion of the cell’s occupant. But, Mr. Peterson testified that his restraints
were not removed while he was in the holding cell and therefore he was unable to close the window. Defendants
object to Mr. Peterson’s affidavit which states that he was left in restraints and therefore unable to close the window
on the basis that this is the first time this allegation has been raised. But this allegation is consistent with the
Complaint which alleges that Mr. Peterson was retrained with his hands behind his back. Mr. Peterson makes no
reference to the cuffs ever being removed.
Mr. Peterson testified he was cold. This is consistent with the weather report issued by Middletown 2W weather
station as reported on www.weathersource.com. That weather station reported that on February 11, 2011, the
maximum temperature was 19.0° F, the medium temperature was 4.5° F, and the minimum temperature was 10.0° F.
Neither Defendant is a medical professional or has training in medical treatment or
diagnosis. Mr. Peterson identified his medical problems as “Diabetic at all times” and “Diabetic
blood sugar was very high;” conditions neither Defendant was able to visually observe.
Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights; instead it is a means for
vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred. Ledford v. Sullivan, 105 F.3d 354, 356 (7th Cir.
1997) (citing Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n.3 (1979)). The first step in any 42 U.S.C.
§1983 claim is to identify the specific constitutional right infringed. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S.
266, 271 (1994). The right implicated by Mr. Peterson’s claims is the Eighth Amendment. As a
convicted offender, the conditions of Mr. Peterson’s confinement are constrained by the Eighth
Amendment’s proscription against the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment. Helling v.
McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993) (“It is undisputed that the treatment a prisoner receives in
prison and the conditions under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth
Amendment.”). Hence, pursuant to the Eighth Amendment, prison officials have a duty to
Aprovide humane conditions of confinement; . . . [to] ensure that inmates receive adequate food,
clothing, shelter and medical care, and [to] ‘take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of
the inmates[.]’” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994) (quoting Hudson v. Palmer, 468
U.S. 517, 526-27 (1984)).
Medical Care Claim
In order for Mr. Peterson to succeed on a claim of failure to provide medical attention, he
must prove that he (1) had a serious medical need, (2) the defendant was deliberately indifferent
to his serious medical need, and (3) the defendant’s conduct caused him harm. See Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). Deliberate indifference exists only when an official “knows
of and disregards an excessive risk to an inmate's health; the official must both be aware of facts
from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he
must also draw the inference.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837 (construing Estelle). A condition is
serious if “the failure to treat a prisoner’s condition could result in further significant injury or
the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.” Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1373 (7th
Cir. 1997) (citation and internal quotations omitted).
Defendants do not dispute that diabetes qualifies as a serious medical need. Instead, they
argue that they did not have knowledge that Mr. Peterson had diabetes requiring treatment. If the
jury accepts Mr. Peterson’s version of the facts, then Lt. Marvell and Officer Ballard knew based
both on Mr. Peterson’s statements and the circumstances of their interaction that Mr. Peterson
was diabetic and that he, along with other inmates, were trying to go to the medical facility for
insulin. A reasonable jury could conclude that Lt. Marvell and Officer Ballard allowed other
offenders to proceed through the gate to receive medical treatment, but not Mr. Peterson because
they intended to cause him harm.
This conclusion is supported by the fact that medical
personnel were not contacted by either officer to request treatment for Mr. Peterson while he was
restrained in the holding cell.
Defendants cite to Radunz v. Muhlhausen, 375 Fed. App’x 618 (7th Cir. 2010), for the
proposition that diabetes does not automatically require immediate intervention and that there
must be some active visible distress—rising to the level of serious medical need—for the
correctional officers to know of and intentionally disregard. But that is not the holding of
Radunz. In that case, Mr. Radunz admitted in his complaint that his diabetes was treated by diet
and medication and monitored by two blood-sugar checks a day. The Seventh Circuit held that
Mr. Radunz “pleaded himself out of court by alleging facts which rule out his contention that his
medical issues were ignored.” Id. at 620. In this case, Mr. Peterson alleges Defendants actively
impeded his regularly scheduled blood sugar check and insulin injection which is necessary to
keep his diabetes under control. In Radunz, the jailers responded reasonably by providing Mr.
Radunz with “prompt and adequate medical treatment.” Id. In this case, if Mr. Peterson’s
version of the facts is accepted, Defendants did not act reasonably but instead, acted with
Conditions of Confinement
In order for Mr. Peterson to prevail on his claim that he was subjected to unconstitutional
conditions of confinement he must prove that he was incarcerated under conditions that posed a
substantial risk of serious harm to his health or safety and that Defendants were deliberately
indifferent to his health or safety.
If Mr. Peterson’s version of the facts is believed by a jury, it could conclude that Lt.
Marvell and Officer Ballard took Mr. Peterson to a holding cell that is used for the temporary
placement of offenders. Lt. Marvell then opened the window thereby purposely exposing Mr.
Peterson to frigid temperatures and rain for four hours, a situation which Mr. Peterson was
unable to alter because Defendants left him with his hands cuffed behind his back.
Defendants argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity because there was no
clearly established right at the time of Mr. Peterson’s suit that guaranteed attention to a medical
condition Defendants did not know of, or protection from a cold cell when Mr. Peterson chose
not to close the open window. The Court disagrees. Defendants are not entitled to qualified
immunity as a matter of law at this time because whether or not they knew Mr. Peterson required
medical attention and whether or not Mr. Peterson was able to close the open window are
material facts in dispute. See Whitlock v. Brueggemann, 682 F.3d 567, 587 (7th Cir. 2012)
(discussing disputes of material fact in context of qualified immunity analysis).
For the reasons explained above, many material facts are in dispute making resolution of
this action through summary judgment inappropriate. Accordingly, Defendants’ Motion for
Summary Judgment (Dkt. 35) is DENIED.
Hon. Tanya Walton Pratt, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
Lawrence Peterson, #892938
PENDLETON - CF
PENDLETON CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
4490 West Reformatory Road
Pendleton, Indiana 46064
Kate E. Shelby
OFFICE OF THE INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL
Wade J. Hornbacher
OFFICE OF THE INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL
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