Turner v. Hayden et al
MEMORANDUM RULING re 69 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS re 50 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by Mark Hunter, Michelle Dauzat, Steven Hayden, Arnold, 38 MOTION for Partial Summary Judgment filed by Carlton Tremell Turner. Signed by Judge S Maurice Hicks on 9/27/2017. (crt,McDonnell, D)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
CARLTON T. TURNER
CIVIL ACTION NO. 15-2282
JUDGE S. MAURICE HICKS, JR.
STEVEN HAYDEN, ET AL.
MAGISTRATE JUDGE HORNSBY
This Court concurs with the findings of the Magistrate Judge set forth in the Report
and Recommendation. See Record Document 69. Specifically, this Court is authorized to
grant Summary Judgment sua sponte in favor of Dr. Seal. A court may grant
summary judgment sua sponte in favor of defendants after giving a plaintiff notice and a
reasonable time to respond. Christian v. Walker, No. 15-CV-130, 2016 WL 742687, at *4
a Report and Recommendation, as set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Fed. R. Civ. P.
72(b) satisfies the notice requirement. See Treadway v. Wilkinson, 06-CV-1182, 2008 WL
4224817, at *2 (W.D. La. June 10, 2008), subsequently aff'd, 351 F. App’x 889 (5th Cir.
The Plaintiff, Carlton Turner (“Turner”), attached an affidavit to his objections from
a fellow inmate, Michael Hill (“Hill”), concerning Hill’s medications and his assignment to
heat-related indoor duty status. Hill’s affidavit does not alter the Court’s conclusions.
Furthermore, the Report and Recommendation provided Turner with sufficient notice and
opportunity to respond to the possible dismissal of his case. See Magouirk v. Phillips, 144
F.3d 348, 359 (5th Cir. 1998) (sua sponte invocation of defense in Report and
Recommendation satisfied due process). Therefore, Turner was given sufficient notice of
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the Magistrate’s Report and Recommendation that this Court grant summary judgment
sua sponte in favor of Dr. Seal. See Record Document 69 at 8.
For a convicted prisoner to prevail on a claim that his medical care (or lack of care)
violated the Constitution, he must prove that prison or jail officials were “deliberately
indifferent” to his “serious medical needs.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104, 97 S.Ct.
285, 291 (1976); Hare v. City of Corinth, 74 F.3d 633, 643 (5th Cir. 1996) (en banc).
Deliberate indifference encompasses only unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain
repugnant to the conscience of mankind. See Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104-105, 97 S.Ct. at
291-92. This Court finds that Turner is unable to meet his burden in alleging facts to show
a deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs.
In order to succeed on a claim under Eighth Amendment, the Fifth Circuit requires
a showing of more than a “de minimis” physical injury. Blackmon v. Garza, 484 F. App’x
866, 874 (5th Cir. 2012); see, e.g., Johnson v. Tex. Bd. of Criminal Justice, 281 F. App’x
319, 321 (5th Cir. 2008) (“While Johnson alleged that the temperatures were sometimes
uncomfortably hot, he did not allege that he suffered from any heat-related injuries....”).
Nonetheless, in Blackmon, because the physical symptoms plaintiff described in his
testimony at trial (i.e., headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, and blurred and dimmed
vision) would constitute more than a “de minimis” physical injury, the Fifth Circuit found it
unnecessary to determine whether the plaintiff must show more than a “de minimis” injury
to sustain his claims. Id. at 874. Therefore, the Fifth Circuit held that the district court erred
to the extent it based its grant of judgment as a matter of law on the plaintiff’s failure to
prove he suffered a significant physical injury. Id.
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In the instant case, unlike the plaintiff in Blackmon, Turner has not alleged that he
suffered any heat related illness as a result of taking Risperdal. In fact, during the years
of 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, Turner worked in the heat while taking Risperdal
and failed to complain of any heat related illnesses. See Record Document 38-3, at 2.
Therefore, Turner has not suffered a “de minimis” physical injury required under the
Moreover, disagreement with medical treatment or arguing that physicians should
use different treatment methods does not support an Eighth Amendment challenge. In
Norton v. Dimazana, 122 F.3d 286 (5th Cir. 1997), the plaintiff claimed his Eighth
Amendment rights were violated because the physicians did not properly treat his
prolapsed rectum. The plaintiff argued that medical personnel should have attempted
different diagnostic measures or alternative methods of treatment. The Fifth Circuit held
that disagreement with medical treatment does not state a claim for Eighth Amendment
indifference to medical needs. See id. at 292.
In the present action, Turner appears to be contesting Dr. Seal’s medical judgment
that, in general, inmates prescribed less than 4 mg. of Risperdal should not receive heatrelated indoor duty status and that Dr. Seal was deliberately indifferent to his individual
Summary judgment in favor of Dr. Seal is proper because Turner failed to allege
or prove that he suffered a heat-related illness due to Dr. Seal’s decision not to place him
on heat-related indoor duty status. Turner attempts to contest Dr. Seal’s medical
judgment by attaching an affidavit from a fellow inmate as discussed above. In the
affidavit, Hill states that he was given a heat-related indoor duty status and was prescribed
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2 mg. of Risperdal. See Record Document 79-1, at 1. This affidavit appears to contradict
Dr. Seal’s policy of only giving heat-related indoor duty status to inmates who are
prescribed 4 mg. of Risperdal. However, people react differently to medications. This bare
bones affidavit is insufficient to create a general dispute of material fact as to whether Dr.
Seal was deliberately indifferent to Turner receiving medical treatment, i.e., heat-related
indoor duty status. As the Fifth Circuit held in Norton v. Dimazana, supra, the court does
not permit an inmate to counter the medical judgment of a physician in attempting to
support an Eighth Amendment challenge. The affidavit pertains to Dr. Seal’s treatment of
Hill, not his treatment of Turner. Dr. Seal’s medical judgment extends to alternative
treatment plans for individual inmates. Hill is not a medical expert. There is no evidence
of deliberate indifference to the medical needs of Turner.
Accordingly, for the reasons assigned in the Report and Recommendation of the
Magistrate Judge previously filed herein and the foregoing Memorandum Ruling, and
having thoroughly reviewed the record, including the written objections filed, and
concurring with the findings of the Magistrate Judge under the applicable law;
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Record
Document 38) is DENIED, the Motion for Summary Judgment by Steven Hayden and
Michelle Dauzat (Record Document 50) is GRANTED, and Dr. Gregory Seal is
GRANTED Summary Judgment sua sponte.
THUS DONE AND SIGNED at Shreveport, Louisiana, on this the 27th day of
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