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Fox v. Mitcheff

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

January 26, 2015

RICHARD A. FOX, Plaintiff,
v.
Dr. MICHAEL MITCHEFF, Dr. WILLIAM H. WOLFE, JOHN DALLAS, Defendants.

ENTRY DISCUSSING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

SARAH EVANS BARKER, District Judge.

This is a civil rights action in which plaintiff Richard A. Fox, an inmate at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, alleges that the defendants failed to provide proper medical care for his ongoing testicular pain while incarcerated at the Pendleton Correctional Facility. This civil claim is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983.

The defendants, Dr. Michael Mitcheff, Dr. William H. Wolfe and John Dallas, seek resolution of this action through summary judgment. Counsel was recruited pursuant to Local Rule 4-6 to assist Mr. Fox in responding to the motion for summary judgment.[1] For the reasons explained below, the defendants' motion for summary judgment [dkt. 76] is granted.

I. Standard of Review

A motion for summary judgment asks that the Court find that a trial based on the uncontroverted and admissible evidence is unnecessary because, as a matter of law, it would conclude in the moving party's favor. See Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56. 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). The key inquiry, 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 to 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.

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. Pro. 56(c)(1)(A). 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. Pro. 56(e). That is the case here.

Mr. Fox has opposed the motion for summary judgment, but his response is inadequate to create a genuine issue of material fact. Local Rule 56-1(b) requires a brief in opposition to a motion for summary judgment to include a section labeled "Statement of Material Facts in Dispute" which responds to the movant's asserted material facts by identifying the potentially determinative facts and factual disputes which the nonmoving party contends demonstrate that there is a dispute of fact precluding summary judgment. These facts must be supported by appropriate citations to admissible evidence. See 56-1(e); Edward E. Gillen Co. v. City of Lake Forest, 3 F.3d 192, 196 (7th Cir. 1993). The plaintiff did provide citations to factual assertions in the argument section of his brief, but this district court is not required to "wade through... legal argument in search of a genuinely disputed fact." Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trustees, 233 F.3d 524, 529 (7th Cir.2000). "Judges are not like pigs, hunting for truffles buried in briefs." United States v. Dunkel, 927 F.2d 955, 956 (7th Cir. 1991). The Court need only consider the cited materials, Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 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).

Mr. Fox's failure to properly oppose the motion for summary judgment with a statement of material facts in dispute supported by admissible evidence has a particular consequence, which is that he has admitted the truth of the defendant's statement of material facts for purposes of the Court acting on the motion for summary judgment. See Johnson v. Gudmundsson, 35 F.3d 1104, 1108 (7th Cir. 1994). This does not alter the standard for assessing a Rule 56 motion, but does "reduc[e] the pool" from which the facts and inferences relative to such a motion may be drawn. Smith v. Severn, 129 F.3d 419, 426 (7th Cir. 1997); see also Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003) ("Smith's summary-judgment materials were woefully deficient in either responding adequately to the defendants' statement or in setting forth additional facts with appropriate citations to the record. As such, ... the district court did not abuse its discretion in deeming admitted and only considering the defendants' statement of material facts.").

II. Undisputed Facts

Applying the standards set forth above, the undisputed material facts are as follows:

A. The Parties

At all times relevant to the complaint, Mr. Fox was an inmate in the custody of the Indiana Department of Correction and was housed at the Pendleton Correctional Facility ("Pendleton").

Also during this time, John Dallas held the position of Vice President of Operations in Indiana for Corizon, Inc., f/k/a Correctional Medical Services, Inc. Mr. Dallas is not a physician and has never treated Richard Fox or any other offender. Mr. Dallas' former job title of Vice President of Operations in Indiana did not authorize him to dictate the course of treatment or appropriate medications for an inmate. Mr. Dallas did not supervise or in any way oversee the individual medical providers at Pendleton (or any other facility) with regard to their medical treatment of offenders. Mr. Dallas did not in any way tell the medical providers at Pendleton how to treat Mr. Fox. As a non-physician, Mr. Dallas relied upon the information he received from the medical providers who were seeing and caring for Mr. Fox.

At all times relevant to the complaint, Dr. Mitcheff was the Regional Medical Director for Corizon, Inc., f/k/a Correctional Medical Services, Inc. ("Corizon"), the company that contracts with the Indiana Department of Correction to provide medical care to various prisons throughout Indiana. Dr. Mitcheff currently serves as Medical Director for the Indiana Department of Correction. As Regional Medical Director for Corizon, Dr. Mitcheff hired facility physicians, reviewed requests for non-formulary ...


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