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Kimbrough v. Corizon Health, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division

July 12, 2019




         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed an amended complaint, ECF No. 8, alleging that his Eighth Amendment rights were violated when he was not provided timely and appropriate medical care after suffering a tendon tear in his right knee. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss in January 2018, ECF No. 24, which was denied. ECF Nos. 29-30. Thereafter, Defendants filed an answer, ECF No. 32, and the parties engaged in discovery. ECF No. 33. On January 28, 2019, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, ECF No. 37, and Plaintiff was advised of his obligation to respond to that motion. ECF No. 40. Plaintiff filed his opposition, ECF No. 44, and Defendants filed a reply. ECF No. 45. The motion for summary judgment, ECF No. 37, as supported by exhibits previously filed with the motion to dismiss, see ECF No. 23-1, is ready for a ruling.

         Standard of Review

         “The 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). Thus, summary judgment is proper “after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, 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 proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The “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., 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. at 2553. The non-moving party must then show[1] though affidavits or other Rule 56 evidence “that there is a genuine issue for trial” or “an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Id. at 325, 106 S.Ct. at 2554; Beard v. Banks, 548 U.S. 521, 529, 126 S.Ct. 2572, 2578, 165 L.Ed.2d 697 (2006).

         An issue of fact is “material” if it could affect the outcome of the case. Hickson Corp. v. Northern Crossarm Co., Inc., 357 F.3d 1256, 1259 (11th Cir. 2004) (citations omitted). Additionally, “the issue of fact must be ‘genuine'” and the non-moving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986) (other citations omitted). “The mere existence of some factual dispute will not defeat summary judgment unless that factual dispute is material to an issue affecting the outcome of the case.” McCormick v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 333 F.3d 1234, 1243 (11th Cir. 2003) (quoting Chapman v. AI Transp., 229 F.3d 1012, 1023 (11th Cir. 2000)).

         In ruling on summary judgment motions, a judge is not to “weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). “[T]here is no issue for trial unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249, 106 S.Ct. at 2511 (noting that a “scintilla of evidence” is not enough to refer the matter to a jury). The Court must decide “whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.” Hickson Corp., 357 F.3d at 1260 (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)). All “justifiable inferences” must be resolved in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, Beard, 548 U.S. at 529, 126 S.Ct. at 2578, but “only if there is a ‘genuine' dispute as to those facts.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007) (quoted in Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 586, 129 S.Ct. 2658, 2677, 174 L.Ed. 2D 490 (2009)). “Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no ‘genuine issue for trial.'” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 587, 106 S.Ct. at 1356 (other citation omitted).

         The relevant Rule 56(e) evidence

         On February 1, 2016, Plaintiff went to the prison medical clinic complaining of pain in his right knee. ECF No. 23-1 at 1.[2] Plaintiff said he injured himself while playing basketball. Id. at 3; ECF No. 8 at 5. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant Tanner “refused to examine [him] or provide any medical treatment” even though he was limping and “in visible pain.” ECF No. 8 at 5.

         The medical record, [3] however, shows that although Defendant Tanner, a licensed practical nurse, did not arguably provide treatment, she did examine Plaintiff. ECF No. 23-1 at 1-2. Defendant Tanner completed a “fracture/dislocation/ sprain protocol” form which noted that Plaintiff's injury was “mild, ” he was “ambulatory to medical clinic, ” and he reported his pain level as a 4 on a scale of 1-10. Id. at 1. Defendant Tanner noted that Plaintiff was unable to move his knee, but she found there was no deformity, only mild swelling, and the temperature around the injury site was “warm” to the touch. Id. Defendant Tanner found a “pulse distal to injury” was present and she took Plaintiff's vital signs. Id. Defendant Tanner directed Plaintiff to follow up in sick call as his injury was not deemed “a medical emergency.” Id. The form also shows that Plaintiff was given Ibuprofen, instructed to “apply warm, moist towel to injury site, ” and instructed “on the use of crutches or other assistive devices when applicable, ” although it does not appear that Plaintiff was provided any crutches or other devices. Id. at 1-2.

         On the following day, February 2nd, Plaintiff said that he submitted an inmate sick-call request form. ECF No. 8 at 5. He said that he sat in the medical clinic for the entire day without being seen. Id. An officer suggested he submit another sick-call request form, which Plaintiff said he did. Id. On February 3, 2016, Plaintiff “returned to sick call and was examined” by Nurse Hamlet. Id. at 5. Defendant Hamlet, a licensed practical nurse, told Plaintiff the inflammation would subside and he would be fine. Id. at 6. She gave him a tube of analgesic balm and 10 packets of Ibuprofen. Id. at 5-6.

         The documentary evidence provided by Defendants reveals only one sick call request form which was dated February 3, 2016, 6:35 a.m. ECF No. 23-1 at 3. Plaintiff wrote on the form[4] that he injured his right leg playing basketball on February 1, 2016. Id. The form indicates it was received on February 3rd and Plaintiff was “triaged” on that same day. Id.

         Plaintiff was examined by Defendant Hamlet at 8:00 a.m. Id. at 4. Another “fracture/dislocation/ sprain protocol” form was completed, noting that Plaintiff was complaining of right knee pain and edema. Id. Plaintiff reported his pain was on the lateral side of his kneed and he again said it was a 4 on a 1-10 scale. Id. There was no deformity or numbness noted, only mild swelling, and no abrasion or laceration. Id. Nurse Hamlet advised Plaintiff to elevate the leg and he was given Ibuprofen.[5] Id.

         Plaintiff alleged that on March 21, 2016, he “declared a medical emergency after falling from pushing a lawn mower.” ECF No. 8 at 6. He said that after arriving in the medical clinic, he was refused treatment and no one examined him. Id. He was “told to sign up for sick call.” Id.

         The medical records reveal Plaintiff submitted a sick-call request form on March 21, 2016, at 2:45 p.m. ECF No. 23-1 at 6. Plaintiff wrote that he had originally injured himself on February 1, 2016, while playing basketball, and said the injury was “treated” on February 3rd. Id. He reported that while “pushing ...

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