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Marcus Chandler v. Dr. M. Escobar

October 20, 2011

MARCUS CHANDLER,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
DR. M. ESCOBAR, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge George J. Limbert

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This matter is before the Court on the motion for summary judgment filed on behalf of Defendants, Dr. M. Escobar, Chief Medical Officer at the Ohio State Penitentiary ("OSP"), and Mrs. Y. Thornton, former Health Care Administrator at OSP, on September 6, 2011 in this 42 U.S.C. §1983 action predicated upon the denial of medical care. ECF Dkt. #46. Plaintiff, Marcus Chandler, acting pro se, filed his opposition brief on September 20, 2011. ECF Dkt. #48. Defendants filed their reply brief on September 28, 2011. ECF Dkt. #50.

According to the complaint filed on March 19, 2010, Plaintiff suffers from degenerative disc disease, which causes severe lower back pain. ECF Dkt. #1. Plaintiff alleged that Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his medical needs by denying him appropriate treatment. In his complaint, Plaintiff sought injunctive relief as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

A brief procedural history is informative. On August 9, 2010, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. ECF Dkt #7. Plaintiff sought an order requiring Defendants to provide care by a "suitable doctor" and to carry out that "doctor's orders." Id. In denying both motions, the Court noted that Plaintiff had (1) been examined by at least two doctors, including a neurosurgeon; (2) been provided multiple dosages of pain medication on at least two occasions*fn1 ; (3) undergone an MRI of his lower back; and, in response to the recommendation by the neurosurgeon; and (4) been seen by a physical therapist as recently as July 28, 2010. ECF Dkt. #13, pp. 61-62. Plaintiff filed a second motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on on January 12, 2011. ECF Dkt. #28. The motion was summarily denied on March 7, 2011, based upon the analysis provided in the previous memorandum opinion and order. ECF Dkt. #36. Discovery was completed on July 15, 2011, and the motion for summary judgment was timely filed on September 6, 2011.

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW AND GOVERNING LAW

Defendants have moved for summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Summary judgment should be granted "if the movant shows 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). A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by:

(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or

(B) showing 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.

Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).

This Court must view evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party to determine whether a genuine dispute of material fact exists. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970); CenTra, Inc. v. Estrin, 538 F.3d 402, 412 (6th Cir.2008). A fact is "material" only if its resolution will affect the outcome of the lawsuit. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Daugherty v. Sajar Plastics, Inc., 544 F.3d 696, 702 (6th Cir.2008). Determination of whether a factual issue is "genuine" requires consideration of the applicable evidentiary standards. Thus, in most civil cases, the Court will decide "whether reasonable jurors could find by a preponderance of the evidence that the [non-moving party] is entitled to a verdict." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505.

Upon filing a motion for summary judgment, the moving party has the initial burden of establishing that there are no genuine issues of material fact as to an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim. Moldowan v. City of Warren, 578 F.3d 351, 374 (6th Cir.2009) (citation omitted); Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1479--80 & n. 12 (6th Cir.1989). The moving party, however, is not required to file affidavits or other similar materials negating a claim on which its opponent bears the burden of proof, so long as the moving party relies upon the absence of the essential element in the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).

In response, if the moving party establishes the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, to defeat summary judgment, the non-moving party "may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleading; rather, its response must-by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule-set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2); see also Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586--87, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Alexander v. CareSource, 576 F.3d 551, 558 (6th Cir.2009) (citation omitted). In this regard, "Rule 56 does not impose upon the district court a duty to sift through the record in search of evidence to support a party's opposition to summary judgment"; rather, "Rule 56 allocates that duty to the opponent of the motion, who is required to point out the evidence, albeit evidence that is already in the record, that creates an issue of fact." Williamson v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 481 F.3d 369, 379--80 (6th Cir.2007) (citation omitted); see also Tucker v. Tennessee, 539 F.3d 526, 531 (6th Cir.2008)(citation omitted). Moreover, the non-moving party must show more than a scintilla of evidence to overcome summary judgment; it is not enough for the non-moving party to show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to material facts. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 586--87, 106 S.Ct. 1348; see also Barr v. Lafon, 538 F.3d 554, 574 (6th Cir.2008).

Accordingly, the ultimate inquiry is whether the record, as a whole, and upon viewing it in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, could lead a rational trier of fact to find in favor of the non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 586--87, 106 S.Ct. 1348; see also Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505 ("The judge's inquiry, therefore, unavoidably asks whether reasonable jurors could find by a preponderance of the evidence that the [non-moving party] is entitled to a verdict-whether there is [evidence] upon which a jury can properly proceed to find a verdict for the party producing it, upon whom the onus of proof is imposed." (emphasis in original) (internal quotations omitted)).

Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, an individual may bring a private right of action against anyone, who, under color of state law, deprives a person of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or conferred by federal statutes. Blessing v. Freestone, 520 U.S. 329, 340, 117 S.Ct. 1353, 137 L.Ed.2d 569 (1997); Maine v. Thiboutot, 448 U.S. 1, 4, 100 S.Ct. 2502, 65 L.Ed.2d 555 (1980). It is well settled that "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes the 'unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain' ... proscribed by the Eighth Amendment." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). The test for deliberate indifference underlying a 1983 claim has both an objective and subjective component. See Brown v. Bargery, 207 F .3d 863, 867 (6th Cir.2000). The objective component requires the existence of a "sufficiently serious" medical need. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). The ...


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