THURSTON v. STEPHENSON et al
Entry Discussing Motion for Summary Judgment - Jail Commander Stephenson's motion for summary judgment 41 is granted. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue. (See Entry.) Copy to plaintiff via US Mail. Signed by Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson on 10/15/2012. (RSF)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
RICKY J. THURSTON,
Entry Discussing Motion for Summary Judgment
The parties to this civil rights action are plaintiff Ricky J. Thurston and
defendant Terry Stephenson, who is the Jail Commander of the Putnam County
Jail (“Jail”). Thurston’s claims he was denied constitutionally adequate medical care
while he was confined at the Jail and that money was improperly taken out of his
Jail Commander Stephenson seeks resolution of Thurston’s claim through the
entry of summary judgment. For the reasons explained in this Entry, the motion for
summary judgment must be granted.
Summary Judgment Standard
Summary judgment should be granted “if the movant shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to a judgment as
a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A "material fact" is one that "might affect the
outcome of the suit." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A
dispute over “material fact” is “genuine” if “the evidence is such that a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. If no reasonable jury could
find for the non-moving party, then there is no “genuine” dispute. Scott v. Harris,
127 S. Ct. 1769, 1776 (2007).
“[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility
of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those
portions of 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions
on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
To survive summary judgment, the nonmoving party must establish some
genuine issue for trial such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in his
favor. Makowski v. SmithAmundsen LLC, 662 F.3d 818, 822 (7th Cir. 2011)(citing
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). AThe nonmovant will
successfully oppose summary judgment only when it presents definite, competent
evidence to rebut the motion.@ Vukadinovich v. Bd. of Sch. Trs., 278 F.3d 693, 699
(7th Cir. 2002) (internal quotation and citation omitted). See Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)(1)(A),B)(both the party Aasserting that a fact cannot be,@ and a party asserting
that a fact is genuinely disputed, must support their assertions by Aciting to
particular parts of materials in the record,@ or by Ashowing that the materials cited
do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse
party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.@).
In viewing the facts presented on a motion for summary judgment, a court
must construe all facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw
all legitimate inferences in favor of that party. NLFC, Inc. v. Devcom Mid-Am., Inc.,
45 F.3d 231, 234 (7th Cir. 1995); Doe v. R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., 42 F.3d 439, 443
(7th Cir.1994). However, “before a non-movant can benefit from a favorable view of
the evidence, it must show that there is some genuine evidentiary dispute.” SMS
Demag Aktiengesellschaft v.Material Scis. Corp., 565 F.3d 365, 368 (7th Cir. 2009).
Thurston has not opposed the Jail Commander’s motion for summary
judgment. The consequence of this is that he has conceded Stephenson’s version of
the facts. Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003) (“[F]ailure to respond by
the nonmovant as mandated by the local rules results in an admission.”); Waldridge
v. American Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 921-22 (7th Cir. 1994). This does not alter
the standard for assessing a Rule 56(a) motion, but does “reduc[e] the pool” from
which the facts and inferences relative to such a motion may be drawn. Smith v.
Severn, 129 F.3d 419, 426 (7th Cir. 1997).
“The applicable substantive law will dictate which facts are material.”
National Soffit & Escutcheons, Inc., v. Superior Systems, Inc., 98 F.3d 262, 265 (7th
Cir. 1996) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). The substantive law applicable to the
motion for summary judgment is this:
Pretrial detainees have a right to receive reasonable medical treatment for a
serious injury or medical need, including mental health needs. Sanville v.
McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 734 (7th Cir. 2001); Collignon v. Milwaukee County, 163
F.3d 982, 986-87 (7th Cir. 1998). This right is grounded in the Fourteenth
Amendment, because the constitutional rights of a pretrial detainee are derived
from the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Bell v. Wolfish, 441
U.S. 520, 535 n.16 (1979). Pursuant to constitutional requirements, a pretrial
detainee "may not be punished prior to an adjudication of guilt in accordance with
due process of law." Id. at 535.
Not all jail conditions trigger constitutional scrutiny. Only deprivations of
“basic human needs,” including adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care,
sanitation, and physical safety, or lack of the “minimal civilized measure of life’s
necessities,” rise to that level. See Sanders v. Sheahan, 198 F.3d 626, 628 (7th Cir.
1999); Tesch v. County of Green Lake, 157 F.3d 465, 475 (7th Cir. 1998); Antonelli v.
Sheahan, 81 F.3d 1422 (7th Cir. 1996). "The conditions of imprisonment, whether of
pretrial detainees or of convicted criminals, do not reach even the threshold of
constitutional concern until a showing is made of 'genuine privations and hardship
over an extended period of time.'" Duran v. Elrod, 760 F.2d 756 (7th Cir. 1985)
(quoting Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. at 542).
Under the Due Process Clause, the standard with respect to the right to safe
conditions of confinement is whether the defendant acted with deliberate
indifference towards the plaintiff by ignoring a known and substantial risk to the
inmate’s safety. Butera v. Cottey, 285 F.3d 601, 605 (7th Cir. 2002); see also Payne v.
Churchich, 161 F.3d 1030, 1041 (7th Cir. 1998) ("A detainee establishes a § 1983
claim by demonstrating that the defendants were aware of a substantial risk of
serious injury to the detainee but nevertheless failed to take appropriate steps to
protect him from a known danger."). Deliberate indifference requires a showing of
two elements in this setting. Palmer v. Marion County, 327 F.3d 588, 593 (7th Cir.
2003). First, a detainee must “objectively show that he was incarcerated under
conditions posing a ‘substantial risk of serious harm.’" Id. (quoting Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994)). Second, a detainee must establish that the
defendant had “knowledge of and disregarded the risk to his safety.” Id. (citing
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837 ("[A] prison official cannot be found liable . . . unless the
official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety.")).
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 Walton as the nonmoving party. See Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150
Thurston’s Medical Care
Thurston was admitted to the Putnam County Jail in October 2009. During
the time Thurston was at the Putnam County Jail, the Sheriff of Putnam County
contracted with Advanced Correctional Healthcare to provide medical care to
inmates. All decisions regarding inmate prescriptions and medical care were made
by Advanced Correctional Healthcare, not by the sheriff or any of his employees. All
inmate requests for medical attention, or grievances related to medical care, were
forwarded by the jail staff to the jail nurse April Rogers and jail doctor Jeffery
Quillen, for any relevant response and information. Sometimes these would be
answered directly by the nurse and doctor, sometimes information conveyed to jail
Terry Stephenson was employed by the Putnam County Sheriff as the jail
commander with the rank of major. He sometimes reviewed grievances. Stephenson
did not make policy or written rules for the jail staff. Those functions were
performed by the sheriff of Putnam County. Stephenson had nothing to do with
medical care decisions. He made no policies or procedures in any area. All policies
and procedures were written by the sheriff, and Advanced Correctional Healthcare
had its own written protocols.
On March 18, 2010, Stephenson responded to the sole medical grievance
which he received from Thurston. In that grievance, Thurston complained about
trust money being taken for his medications by April Rogers, who he says took him
off his medications along with taking his money and about not receiving an MRI he
requested. Stephenson never met Thurston, but upon receiving this medical
request, he reviewed it with the jail medical staff, including Dr. Quillen and nurse
Rogers. His response is exactly what he was told by the medical staff; he had no
other information. His response was that the doctor had taken Thurston off pain
and sleep medications, and the doctor advised that Thurston could get an MRI
when he got out of jail, and “this facility follows the jail doctor’s orders.” Terry
Stephenson never gave any orders or directives to either Dr. Quillen or April Rogers
regarding the medical care and treatment of Ricky Thurston.
Thurston’s Imate Account
Stephenson had no responsibilities relating to inmates’ accounts at the jail.
He had no custody or control over them, did not debit or credit them, and did not
make or keep any records relating to them. Thurston alleges that Rogers, not
Stephenson, took his money.
The details of Thurston’s medical care at the Jail are not provided, nor would
they be material, given that Jail Commander Stephenson was neither directly
involved in that care nor responsible for the decisions of the medical professionals.
Because individual liability under ' 1983 depends on personal involvement in the
alleged wrongdoing, Zimmerman v. Tribble, 226 F.3d 568, 574 (7th Cir. 2000) (A'
1983 does not allow actions against individuals merely for their supervisory role of
others.@), the fact that Stephenson had no direct participation in Thurston’s care is
fatal to the claim. Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 740 (7th Cir. 2001) (to be
liable for the deprivation of a constitutional right, an individual must personally
participate in the deprivation or must direct the conduct or have knowledge of or
consent to the conduct). This is especially true here, where Thurston was being
cared for by medical experts.
If a prisoner is under the care of medical experts . . . a non-medical
prison official will generally be justified in believing that the
prisoner is in capable hands. This follows naturally from the
division of labor within a prison. Inmate health and safety is
promoted by dividing responsibility for various aspects of inmate life
among guards, administrators, physicians, and so on. Holding a
non-medical prison official liable in a case where a prisoner was
under a physician's care would strain this division of labor.
Spruill v. Gillis, 372 F.3d 218, 236 (3d Cir. 2004); see also Hayes v. Snyder, 546 F.3d
516, 527 (7th Cir. 2008)(AThe policy supporting the presumption that non-medical
officials are entitled to defer to the professional judgment of the facility's medical
officials on questions of prisoners' medical care is a sound one.@). Accordingly,
Stephenson’s motion for summary judgment is granted as to his deliberate
Similar reasoning applies to Thurston’s claim regarding his inmate account—
namely, as Thurston himself admits, Stephenson had no involvement in the
maintenance of Thurston’s account. Without personal involvement, there can be no
liability. Zimmerman, 226 F.3d at 574. Stephenson’s motion for summary judgment
must be granted on this claim as well.
The party opposing a summary judgment motion bears an affirmative burden
of presenting evidence that a disputed issue of material fact exists. See Wollin v.
Gondert, 192 F.3d 616, 620 (7th Cir. 1999). If the nonmoving party fails to establish
the existence of an element essential to his case, one on which he would bear the
burden of proof at trial, summary judgment must be granted to the moving party.@
Ortiz v. John O. Butler Co., 94 F.3d 1121, 1124 (7th Cir. 1996). The only conclusion
supported by the evidentiary record is that Jail Commander was not deliberately
indifferent to Thurston’s serious medical needs while Thurston was confined in the
Jail and did not improperly manage his inmate account. Jail Commander
Stephenson’s motion for summary judgment  is therefore granted.
Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
Ricky J. Thurston
Wabash Valley Correctional Facility
6908 S. Old U.S. Highway 41
P.O. Box 1111
Carlisle , IN 47838
Michael Roy Morow
STEPHENSON MOROW & SEMLER
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