Kendall v. Davis
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION as set forth in following order. Signed by Chief District Judge Thomas A Varlan on 5/26/17. (c/m)(ABF)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
CORRECTIONAL OFFICER DAVIS,
This is a pro se prisoner’s civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Before the Court are Defendant’s motion for summary judgment filed [Doc. 27] and his motion
to amend/revise trial date [Doc. 33]. Plaintiff has not filed a response to Defendant’s motion for
summary judgment and the time for doing so has passed. E.D. Tenn. LR 7.1(a)(2). As such,
Plaintiff has waived any opposition to this dispositive motion. Elmore v. Evans, 449 F. Supp. 2,
3 (E.D. Tenn. 1976), aff’d 577 F.2d 740 (6th Cir. 1978); E.D. Tenn. LR 7.2. For the following
reasons, the motion for summary judgment [Doc. 27] will be GRANTED and this action will be
DISMISSED. Accordingly, Defendant’s motion to amend/revise trial date [Doc. 33] will be
DENIED as moot.
In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on October 3, 2014, he was having chest pains and
pressed his call light [Doc. 2 p. 9]. Plaintiff states that when Defendant responded, Plaintiff told
Defendant that he was having chest pains and requested that Defendant call medical, which
Defendant stated he would do [Id. at 9, 13]. Plaintiff further asserts that, after thirty minutes
passed, Plaintiff again pressed the call light, at which time Defendant advised Plaintiff that he
needed to sign up for sick call if he was having an emergency [Id.]. Plaintiff states that several
hours later, after shift change, an unidentified officer noticed that Plaintiff was having medical
symptoms of a heart attack and obtained medical care for Plaintiff, at which time Plaintiff was
taken to a medical center and diagnosed with congestive heart failure [Id.]. Plaintiff alleges that
his chest pains establish the objective element of a deliberate indifference claim and that
Defendant’s failure to get Plaintiff medical treatment for those chest pains establishes the
subjective element of such a claim [Id. at 10–13].
In his affidavit filed in support of his motion for summary judgment, Defendant testifies
that during the relevant incident on October 3, 2014, Plaintiff requested that Defendant send him
to the medication pass line (“med pass”) to obtain an antacid because he was having stomach
pain and heartburn [Doc. 32 p. 1]. Defendant states that he denied this request because antacids
are not available at evening med pass [Id.]. Plaintiff had voluntarily declined to go to med pass
earlier in the evening [Id.]. After Defendant denied Plaintiff’s request, Plaintiff told Defendant
“F*** it, I’ll get third shift to do it” [Id.]. Defendant further testifies that Plaintiff did not request
emergency sick call and did not appear to be in serious medical distress [Id. at 2]. Also, in the
excerpt of Plaintiff’s deposition and Plaintiff’s certified medical records filed with Defendant’s
motion for summary judgment, Defendant set forth evidence that, when Plaintiff was evaluated
by the medical center after the incident at issue, Plaintiff’s labs and EKG were normal and it was
determined that Plaintiff had not had a heart attack, but rather was diagnosed with atypical chest
pains [Doc. 30 p. 4; Doc. 31 pp. 7, 11].
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that “[t]he 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 ruling on a
motion for summary judgment, the court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
McLean v. 988011 Ontario Ltd., 224 F.3d 797, 800 (6th Cir. 2000).
“Summary judgment is proper if the evidence, taken in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party, shows that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Hartman v. Great Seneca Fin. Corp., 569 F.3d
606, 611 (6th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). The moving party has the burden of conclusively
showing the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Smith v. Hudson, 600 F.2d 60, 63 (6th
Summary judgment is an integral tool for securing the “just, speedy[,] and inexpensive
determination of every action.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986). The moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law “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 truth at trial.” Id. at 322.
A district court cannot grant summary judgment in favor of a movant simply because the
adverse party has not responded, but rather the court is required to, at a minimum, examine the
motion to ensure that the movant has met its initial burden. Stough v. Mayville Cmty. Sch., 138
F.3d 612, 614 (6th Cir. 1998). In doing so, the court “must not overlook the possibility of
evidentiary misstatements presented by the moving party.” Guarino v. Brookfield Twp. Trs., 980
F.2d 399, 407 (6th Cir. 1992). The court must “intelligently and carefully review the legitimacy
of  an unresponded-to motion, even as it refrains from actively pursuing advocacy or inventing
the riposte for a silent party.” Id. In the absence of a response, however, the Court will not “sua
sponte comb the record from the partisan perspective of an advocate for the non-moving party.”
Id. at 410. If the court determines that the unrebutted evidence set forth by the moving party
supports a conclusion that there is no genuine issue of material fact, the court will determine that
the moving party has carried its burden, and “judgment shall be rendered forthwith.”
Defendant presents evidence that he did not perceive a substantial risk to Plaintiff during
the incident at issue in Plaintiff’s complaint and that Plaintiff did not suffer any detriment from
the delay in medical treatment. Plaintiff has not disputed this evidence or set forth evidence that
he suffered any detriment due to the delay in receiving medical care. Accordingly, Defendant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff’s claim for denial of medical care.
A prison authority’s deliberate indifference to an inmate’s serious medical needs violates
the Eighth Amendment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104–05 (1976). Prison medical
personnel or officials may be deliberately indifferent to a prisoner’s serious medical needs “in
their response to a prisoner’s needs” or by “interfer[ing] with treatment once prescribed.” Id. To
prevail on a claim alleging Eighth Amendment violations in the prisoner medical context, a
plaintiff must show that acts or omissions of an individual operating under the color of state law
were “sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.” Id. at
106. Thus, under the Estelle standard, “[a] constitutional claim for denial of medical care has
[both] objective and subjective components.” Blackmore v. Kalamazoo Cnty., 390 F.3d 890, 895
(6th Cir. 2004).
The objective component of a claim for denial of medical care requires proof the inmate
is suffering from a sufficiently serious medical need such that “he [was] incarcerated under
conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm.” Brown v. Bargery, 207 F.3d 863, 867 (6th
Cir. 2000) (quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994)). To be sufficiently serious,
the medical need must be either (1) obvious to a layperson or (2) supported by medical evidence,
like a physician’s diagnosis. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834 (citing Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294,
297–98 (1991)); Aswegan v. Henry, 49 F.3d 461, 464 (8th Cir. 1995). Further, “[a]n inmate who
complains that delay in medical treatment rose to a constitutional violation must place verifying
medical evidence in the record to establish the detrimental effect of the delay in medical
treatment to succeed.” Napier v. Madison Cty., 238 F.3d 739, 742 (6th Cir. 2001) (quoting Hill
v. Dekalb Reg’l Youth Det. Ctr., 40 F.3d 1176, 1188 (11th Cir. 1994)).
The subjective component of a claim for denial of medical care requires proof that the
prison official acted with deliberate indifference. Carter v. City of Detroit, 408 F.3d 305, 312
(6th Cir. 2005), abrogated on other grounds by Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223 (2009).
Deliberate indifference requires a mental state amounting to criminal recklessness, and mere
negligence is therefore insufficient. Santiago v. Ringle, 734 F.3d 585, 591 (6th Cir. 2013) (citing
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834, 839–40). To meet this subjective standard, a plaintiff must establish
that the defendant: (1) “perceived the facts from which to infer substantial risk to the prisoner,”
(2) “did in fact draw the inference;” and (3) “then disregarded that risk.” Id. at 591 (quoting
Comstock v. McCrary, 273 F.3d 693, 703 (6th Cir. 2001)).
As set forth above, Defendant has presented evidence that, during the incident at issue in
the complaint, the only medical issues of which Plaintiff complained were stomach pain and
Even if the Court assumes that these medical issues were sufficiently serious,
Defendant has set forth proof that when Plaintiff ultimately received medical attention for his
complaints, Plaintiff’s labs and EKG were normal and Plaintiff was diagnosed with atypical
chest pain, rather than a heart attack. Plaintiff has not disputed this evidence or placed any
verifying medical evidence establishing any detriment to him from the delay in medical
treatment in the record. Further, Defendant has set forth undisputed proof in his affidavit that he
did not perceive that the stomach pain and heartburn posed a substantial risk to Plaintiff and thus
did not disregard any such risk. Accordingly, Defendant has met his burden to establish that no
genuine issue of material fact remains as to Plaintiff’s claim for denial of medical care and he is
entitled to summary judgment.
For the foregoing reasons, Defendant’s motion for summary judgment [Doc. 27] will be
GRANTED and this action will be DISMISSED.
Accordingly, Defendant’s motion to
amend/revise trial date [Doc. 33] will be DENIED as moot.
The Court hereby CERTIFIES that any appeal from this order would not be taken in
good faith. Thus, should Plaintiff file a notice of appeal, this Court will DENY Plaintiff leave to
appeal in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3); Fed. R. App. P. 24.
AN APPROPRIATE ORDER WILL ENTER.
s/ Thomas A. Varlan
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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