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Rowe v. Brown

United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana

May 9, 2014



Hon. Tanya Walton Pratt, Judge

This matter is before the Court on the Defendants’ motions for summary judgment. On January 15, 2011, Jeffrey Allen Rowe (“Mr. Rowe”), an inmate at the Pendleton Correctional Facility (“Pendleton”), pulled a muscle in his back while moving his property box. He was dissatisfied with the treatment he received for his pulled muscle and associated pain and this action ensued. Specifically, Mr. Rowe alleges Defendants Correctional Officer Carlile, Sergeant Flockhart, and Nurse Deborah Wallen delayed treatment by medical staff for two days and Defendants Nurse Autumn Brown, Mary Mansfield (“Ms. Mansfield”), and Doctor Mitcheff violated prison policies and refused to provide Mr. Rowe any treatment after his protocol pack of Ibuprofen ran out. As a result, Mr. Rowe experienced pain for two weeks until his back healed on its own. For the reasons explained below, Defendants’ Motions for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 81 and Dkt. 86) are GRANTED.


Summary judgment is appropriate when the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. A “material fact” is one that “might affect the outcome of the suit.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). To survive a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party must set forth specific, admissible evidence showing that there is a material issue for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

Whether a party asserts that a fact is undisputed or genuinely disputed, the party must support the asserted fact by citing to particular parts of the record, including depositions, documents, or affidavits. Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 56(c)(1)(A). A party can also support a fact by showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute or that the adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 56(c)(1)(B). Affidavits or declarations must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant is competent to testify on matters stated. Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 56(c)(4). Failure to properly support a fact in opposition to a movant’s factual assertion can result in the movant’s fact being considered undisputed, and potentially the grant of summary judgment. Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 56(e).

The Court need only consider the cited materials, Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 56(c)(3), and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has “repeatedly assured the district courts that they are not required to scour every inch of the record for evidence that is potentially relevant to the summary judgment motion before them.” Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., 325 F.3d 892, 898 (7th Cir. 2003). Furthermore, reliance on the pleadings or conclusory statements backed by inadmissible evidence is insufficient to create an issue of material fact on summary judgment. Id. at 901.

The key inquiry, then, is whether admissible evidence exists to support a plaintiff’s claims, not the weight or credibility of that evidence, both of which are assessments reserved for the trier of fact. See Schacht v. Wis. Dep’t of Corrections, 175 F.3d 497, 504 (7th Cir. 1999). When evaluating this inquiry, the Court must give the non-moving party the benefit of all reasonable inferences from the evidence submitted and resolve “any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial . . . against the moving party.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 330.


The following statement of facts was evaluated pursuant to the standards set forth above. That is, this statement of facts is not necessarily objectively true, but as the summary judgment standard requires, the undisputed facts and the disputed evidence are presented in the light reasonably most favorable to Mr. Rowe as the non-moving party with respect to the motions for summary judgment. See Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000).

A. January 15, 2011

At all times relevant to his Complaint, Mr. Rowe was incarcerated at Pendleton. On January 15, 2011, Correctional Officer Carlile and Correctional Sgt. Flockhart were both assigned to work the night shift for G Cell House. At approximately 5:30 p.m., Mr. Rowe injured his back while lifting his property box. At the time of the injury, Mr. Rowe believed that he had pulled a muscle. His self-diagnosis was later confirmed by medical staff. As a result of the pulled muscle, Mr. Rowe experienced pain which he found to be excruciating when moving.

At approximately 6:30 p.m., Officer Carlile walked down Mr. Rowe’s range and Mr. Rowe informed Officer Carlile that he had pulled his back muscle moving his property box, that he could not move without excruciating pain, and that he wanted immediate emergency medical treatment. Officer Carlile informed Mr. Rowe that he needed to finish his range walk, but after that was completed, he would speak with Sgt. Flockhart about his request. After finishing his range walk, Officer Carlile told Sgt. Flockhart that Mr. Rowe had pulled a muscle in his back and was requesting to be seen by medical staff.

At approximately 6:45 p.m., Mr. Rowe told Sgt. Flockhart about his back injury and symptoms and asked for medical attention. In response, Sgt. Flockhart told Mr. Rowe that he would call medical staff. Mr. Rowe believes that the call was never made.[2] At approximately 8:00 p.m., Officer Carlile gave Mr. Rowe a Request for Health Care form (“RFHC”). Officer Carlile explained that because Mr. Rowe is not suffering a life threatening emergency immediate treatment would not be provided and that he was required to submit a RFHC. Officer Carlile then told Mr. Rowe that neither he nor Sgt. Flockhart would call the medical department because it would be a waste of time.[3]

At approximately 9:30 p.m. that evening, as Nurse Wallen was making rounds and delivering medication to inmates, Mr. Rowe walked to his cell door and informed her that he was in pain and needed “immediate emergency medical attention.”[4] Based on her assessment and medical judgment, Nurse Wallen determined that Mr. Rowe’s condition was not an emergency and she instructed Mr. Rowe to submit a RFHC to the medical department for triage.

That same evening, Mr. Rowe submitted a RFHC regarding lower back pain.

B. January 16-17, 2011

On January 16, 2011, Mr. Rowe was referred for an appointment with medical staff. Less than 48 hours after his injury, on January 17, 2011, at 4:19 a.m., [5] Mr. Rowe received an examination from Alana G. Brown, RN, [6] and received a five (5) day supply of Ibuprofen, which was approved by physician William Wolfe, M.D.[7] Mr. Rowe also received instructions to monitor his condition and follow-up with nursing staff if his condition did not improve. During the nursing examination of Mr. Rowe’s lower back on January 17, 2011, Alana G. Brown, RN, noted that Mr. Rowe’s range of motion was satisfactory with encouragement, he was capable of slowly ambulating on his own, and there was no swelling, discoloration, or numbness in his lower back.

Mr. Rowe followed Alana G. Brown’s instructions. On January 23, 2011, after the Ibuprofen ran out Mr. Rowe submitted another RFHC. This RFHC states: “The pulled muscle in my back still hurts really bad. I need to either see the doctor, or, get some more Ibuprofen for it. Thank You!” Dkt. 83-2 at p. 5. Defendant Nurse Autumn Brown responded to the RFHC on January 25, 2011, stating, “[p]lease purchase more ibuprofen off of commissary. If pain persists longer than 3-4 weeks, put in another [RFHC].” Id.

On January 26, 2011, Mr. Rowe sent yet another RFHC, stating that he could not order anything from commissary because he is indigent and even if he could, it would take two weeks to receive Ibuprofen off commissary and he is in pain now. Dkt. 83-2. Nurse Autumn Brown responded on ...

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