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Herron v. Meyer

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

March 9, 2015

BRIAN HERRON, Plaintiff,
v.
LT. D. MEYER, Defendant.

ENTRY GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, VACATING STATUS CONFERENCE, AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT

JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, District Judge.

For the reasons explained in this Entry, the defendant's motion for summary judgment [dkt. 63] is granted, on the basis of qualified immunity.

I. Background

This action is brought pursuant to the theory recognized in Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). Bivens "authorizes the filing of constitutional tort suits against federal officers in much the same way that 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 authorizes such suits against state officers...." King v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 415 F.3d 634, 636 (7th Cir. 2005).

The plaintiff is Brian Herron ("Mr. Herron"), an inmate who was in custody at the United States Penitentiary, Terre Haute, Indiana ("USP-TH"), from August 2011 until the summer of 2013. The defendant is Correctional Lt. Douglas Meyer ("Lt. Meyer").

The only claim remaining in this action is that Lt. Meyer was deliberately indifferent to Mr. Herron's safety in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Specifically, Mr. Herron alleges that Lt. Meyer moved him from a wheelchair handicapped accessible cell to a non-handicapped accessible cell even though he informed Lt. Meyer that he could not transfer onto the toilet without the use of handrails on the wall or toilet. Several hours after being placed in the non-accessible cell, Mr. Herron fell and was injured when he attempted to use the toilet. He seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

The defendant seeks resolution of Mr. Herron's claim through the entry of summary judgment. Mr. Herron has opposed the motion for summary judgment and the defendant has replied.

II. Summary Judgment Standard

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. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). 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). The Court views the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Darst v. Interstate Brands Corp., 512 F.3d 903, 907 (7th Cir. 2008). It cannot weigh evidence or make credibility determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are left to the fact-finder. O'Leary v. Accretive Health, Inc., 657 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2011).

A dispute about a material fact is genuine only "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). If no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party, then there is no "genuine" dispute. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).

III. Discussion

A. Undisputed Facts

On the basis of the pleadings and the portions of the expanded record that comply with the requirements of Rule 56(c)(1), construed in a manner most favorable to Mr. Herron as the non-moving party, the following facts are undisputed for purposes of the motion for summary judgment:

In 2008, Mr. Herron was involved in a fight while housed at the USP Victorville, California, and was seriously injured. He sustained head trauma which has since affected his neurological abilities and his ability to walk unassisted. As a result, during the time period at issue, he used a wheelchair and wore medical undergarments/diapers for occasional incontinence. Since the assault at Victorville, Mr. Herron has been able to walk "a little bit, " while being held by physical therapists with parallel bars. Dkt 63-1; Plt's Dep. at 26. He can transfer himself from his wheelchair to his bed and to the toilet using ...


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