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Jones v. Ahmed

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division

February 14, 2019

DR. AHMED, et al., Defendants.

          Barrett, J. Litkovitz, M.J.


          Karen L. Litkovitz United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Steven Jones, an inmate at the Richland Correctional Institution proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that defendant Dr. Ahmed[1] was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment during the time of plaintiff s incarceration at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility ("SOCF"). (Docs. 13, 14). This matter is before the Court on defendant's motion to strike plaintiffs second response in opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 56) and plaintiffs response in opposition (Doc. 57). This matter is also before the Court on defendant's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 47), plaintiffs response in opposition (Doc. 52), and defendant's reply memorandum (Doc. 54).

         I. Motion to Strike (Doc. 56)

         Defendant moves to strike plaintiffs supplemental memorandum (Doc. 55) filed in response to his reply memorandum. (Doc. 56).

         Motions to strike are governed by Rule 12(f), which provides that a court "may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). The Local Rules for the Southern District of Ohio provide:

Opposing and Reply Memoranda. Any memorandum in opposition shall be filed within twenty-one days after the date of service of the motion. Failure to file a memorandum in opposition may result in the granting of any motion that would not result directly in entry of final judgment or an award of attorneys' fees. Any reply memorandum shall be filed within fourteen days after the date of service of the memorandum in opposition. No additional memoranda beyond those enumerated are permitted except upon leave of court for good cause shown.

         S.D. Ohio Local Civil Rule 7.2(a)(2) (emphasis added). Plaintiff has neither sought leave of court nor shown good cause for the filing of his supplemental memorandum in response to defendant's reply. Accordingly, defendant's motion to strike (Doc. 56) is GRANTED and plaintiffs memorandum (Doc. 55) shall be STRICKEN from the docket of this Court.

         II. Facts on Summary Judgment

          On February 26, 2014, plaintiff informed SOCF medical staff that he was experiencing a vision impairment in his left eye that resulted in severe pain and suffering. (Verified Amended Complaint, Doc. 14 at ¶ 7). Plaintiff had a follow-up visit with a nurse practitioner the next day where he complained that his eye condition had worsened to the point of total blindness in his left eye. (Id. at ¶ 8). Plaintiff states that he told a "shift captain" that he was blind in his left eye and the shift captain had immediately referred him to see the nurse practitioner. (Id.).

         The nurse practitioner examined plaintiff and suspected that plaintiff had a retinal detachment. The nurse practitioner contacted defendant Dr. Ahmed, the Chief Medical Officer at SOCF, to determine the appropriate course of action and completed a consultation request for optometry. (Docs. 47-4 at 2; 47-6 at 2; Doc. 47-7 at 2). Based on the information received from the nurse practitioner, Dr. Ahmed determined that the suspected retinal detachment was not urgent and instructed the nurse practitioner to complete the optometrist referral request. (Declaration of Dr. Ahmed, Doc. 47-1 at ¶¶ 5, 6, 8). Plaintiff, however, states that the nurse practitioner recommended to Dr. Ahmed that he immediately be sent to urgent care at the Ohio State University Hospital ("OSU") and that Dr. Ahmed overruled the nurse practitioner's recommendation and instead instructed the nurse practitioner to place plaintiff on the list to see the rotating prison optometrist, Dr. Jared Shoemaker. (Verified Amended Complaint, Doc. 14 at ¶ 8). In the meantime, plaintiff alleges that a deputy warden at SOCF sensed an urgency and called Dr. Shoemaker directly to examine plaintiffs eye, even though Dr. Shoemaker only holds appointments at SOCF every thirty days. (Id. at ¶ 9). However, defendant disputes this fact and contends that Deputy Warden Cadogan, the Deputy Warden of Special Services at the time, never made an emergency call to Dr. Shoemaker. (Ahmed Declaration, Doc. 47-1 at ¶ 7; Declaration of Dr. Shoemaker, Doc. 47-2 at ¶ 11; Declaration of Anthony Cadogan, Doc. 47-11 at ¶ 7).

         Plaintiff had an appointment with Dr. Shoemaker, the rotating prison optometrist, on March 7, 2014. (Shoemaker Declaration, Doc. 47-2 at ¶¶ 3, 4, 6). Upon examining plaintiff, Dr. Shoemaker suspected that plaintiffs macula was detached. (Id. at ¶ 12). Plaintiffs drooping upper retina would not allow Dr. Shoemaker to confirm whether plaintiffs macula was off; therefore, he immediately referred plaintiff to OSU for further examination out of caution rather than urgency. (Id. at ¶¶ 12-13; Doc. 47-8 at 2). The OSU emergency ophthalmology examination findings revealed: "left eye retinal detachment-superiorly which is drooping down and obstructing view of posterior pole. Likely macula off-but not viewable." (Doc. 47-8 at 2). The discharge instructions from OSU stated: "Please return to [Emergency Department] if symptoms worsen. Ophthalmology will call the prison case manager for scheduling of your surgery." (Id. at 3). Eleven days later, on March 18, 2014, plaintiff underwent retinal detachment surgery of the left eye. (Id. at 15).

         Based on these facts, plaintiff brings an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against Dr. Ahmed, alleging that a delay in treatment of his eye and Dr. Ahmed's decision not to immediately transfer him to OSU caused him to "experience pain and suffering and remain sight-impaired for an extended period of time." (Verified Amended Complaint at ¶ 10).

         III. Summary Judgment Standard

         A motion for summary judgment should be granted if the evidence submitted to the Court demonstrates that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). A grant of summary judgment is proper if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Satterfield v. Tennessee, 295 F.3d 611, 615 (6th Cir. 2002). The Court must evaluate the evidence, and all inferences drawn therefrom, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Satterfield, 295 F.3d at 615; Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio, A1S U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Little Caesar Enters., Inc. v. OPPC, LLC, 219 F.3d 547, 551 (6th Cir. 2000).

         The trial judge's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, but to determine whether there is a genuine factual issue for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. The trial court need not search the entire record for material issues of fact, Street v. J.C Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472 (6th Cir. 1989), but must determine "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." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52. "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. "In response to a properly supported summary judgment motion, the non-moving party 'is required to present some significant probative evidence which makes it necessary to resolve the parties' differing versions of the dispute at trial." Matson v. Montgomery Cty. Jail Med. Staff Pers., 832 F.Supp.2d 846, 849 (S.D. Ohio 2011) (quoting Sixty Ivy St. Corp. v. Alexander, 822 F.2d 1432, 1435 (6th Cir. 1987)).

         Because plaintiff is a pro se litigant, his filings are liberally construed. Spotts v. United States, 429 F.3d 248, 250 (6th Cir. 2005) (citing Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (stating that the Court holds pleadings of pro se litigants to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers)); Boswell v. Mayer, 169 F.3d 384, 387 (6th Cir. 1999) (pro se plaintiffs enjoy the benefit of a liberal construction of their pleadings and filings). However, a party's status as a pro se litigant does not alter his duty to support his factual assertions with admissible evidence. Matson, 832 F.Supp.2d at 851-52 (citing Viergutz v. Lucent Techs. Inc., 375 Fed.Appx. 482, 485 (6th Cir. 2010)). When opposing a motion for summary judgment, a pro se party cannot rely on allegations or denials in unsworn filings. Id. (citing Viergutz, 375 Fed.Appx. at 485).

         IV. ...

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