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Fleming v. Lawrie

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Ocala Division

February 7, 2018

D. LAWRIE, Defendant.


         Plaintiff, a state inmate acting pro se, initiated this case by filing a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1.) Defendants Vivian Mesa and the Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections previously moved to dismiss the case against them, and the motions were granted December 28, 2016. (Docs. 21, 22, 35.) The only remaining defendant, Daniel Lawrie, has moved for summary judgment. (Doc. 39; Doc. 40, Summary Judgment Notice to Plaintiff.) Plaintiff has filed a response and affidavit in opposition. (Doc. 43.) The motion is due to be granted.

         Plaintiff's Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that on July 14, 2014, he was assigned to work as a cook at Lake Correctional Institution. Plaintiff immediately reported to Defendant Lawrie, Food Services Director, that the grill was damaged, but no action was taken. Plaintiff states that the grill “had its top surface bent in the center, which allowed grease to puddle up and stand on the top-center surface of the grill creating a hazard. Not allowing the grease to drain off into a drain pain . . .” (Doc. 1, p. 5.) Plaintiff continued to cook on the grill approximately 16 hours per week until April 6, 2015, when he sustained a second-degree burn to his two left fingers as result of the grease pooling on the grill. According to Plaintiff, “[t]he physical injury caused permanent skin loss to the plaintiff's lefthand finger next to his thumb, which is in the shape of an image of a devil. The plaintiff occasionally hears voices coming from the skin loss (devil) telling plaintiff to kill the food service director Mr. D. Lawrie, and those who makes fun of his existence.” Plaintiff states he is receiving mental health treatment for these issues but was denied cosmetic surgery. (Id. at pp. 6-7.)

         Plaintiff alleges that his Eighth Amendment rights were violated because he was forced to work in a hazardous environment and did not receive adequate medical care. (Id. at p. 4.) For relief, he seeks $15, 000 in damages. (Id. at p. 8.)

         Standard of Review

         Pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is appropriate “if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A genuine issue of material fact exists where the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In applying the standard for summary judgment, the Court must review all of the evidence “in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The nonmoving party must go “beyond the pleadings, [and show] that there exist genuine issues of material fact.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249.

         Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

         Defendant Lawrie moves for summary judgment, arguing that even viewing the facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiff: (1) Plaintiff has failed to establish a claim of deliberate indifference; (2) Defendant Lawrie is entitled to qualified immunity; (3) Plaintiff's injury is de minimus and therefore he is not entitled to damages; and, (4) the extent Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief for medical treatment against a non-party, such relief is not authorized. (Doc. 39.) In support of his motion, Defendant Lawrie has presented the following exhibits:

         1. Affidavit of Defendant Daniel Lawrie

         Defendant Lawrie attests that he has been Food Service Director at Lake C.I. since April 11, 2014. When he began his position, he inspected and examined all equipment, and based on his recommendations, the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) purchased nearly $130, 000 in new equipment. There are two flat top grills in the Lake C.I. kitchen. One was replaced, and the one Plaintiff refers to in his complaint was not because it was not dangerous and functioned properly. He never received any complaints from inmates regarding the grill. There was a minor depression on the top of the grill that did not pose a safety concern to inmates assigned to cook on the grill. State and local inspectors never noted any problems with the grill. Defendant Lawrie implemented a training policy to prevent injuries on the job. (Doc. 39, Exh. A.)

         2. Inspection Reports

         Inspection reports from the Lake County Health Department (January and August 2015) and the FDOC (August 2015) show no remarks concerning any problem with a grill. (Id., Comp. Exh. B.)

         3. Inmate Training Packet

         Training checklists and procedures used in food services. (Id., Exh. C.)

         4. Affidavit of Emma Holmes

         Emma Holmes, Assistant Supervisor in Food Service at Lake C.I., attests that she has been in that position since 2010 and never received any complaints about the grill until Plaintiff brought the present lawsuit. She does not recall any interactions with Plaintiff concerning the grill. (Id. at Exh. D.)

         5. Deposition Transcript Excerpt - ...

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