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Drake v. United States

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

March 13, 2015

JOSEPH FRANKLIN FEJERAN DRAKE, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

ENTRY DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DIRECTING FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

TANYA WALTON PRATT, District Judge.

For the reasons explained in this Entry, Defendant United States of America's ("United States") Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 65) must be DENIED.

I. Background

The plaintiff in this action is Joseph Franklin Fejeran Drake ("Mr. Drake"), an inmate who is currently confined at the United States Penitentiary-Canaan, in Pennsylvania, but who at all relevant times was in custody at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana ("FCC-TH"). Mr. Drake brings this claim against the United States pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (the "FTCA") for an injury to his right arm that occurred at the FCC-TH. See 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b) and 28 U.S.C. § 2671, et seq. Mr. Drake alleges that he cut his arm on his bunk bed frame after slipping on his cell floor in the Special Housing Unit (the "SHU") on May 16, 2012, and that this injury was caused by staff at FCC-TH negligently placing and leaving him in an unsafe cell.

The United States seeks resolution of Mr. Drake's claim through the entry of summary judgment. Mr. Drake has opposed the motion for summary judgment.

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. Drake as the non-moving party, the following facts are undisputed for purposes of the motion for summary judgment:

As noted above, during all times relevant to this action, Mr. Drake was incarcerated at the FCC-TH. On May 16, 2012, Mr. Drake was on his hands and knees cleaning his cell floor using a towel and shampoo. He stood up, slipped on the wet soapy floor, lost his balance, and his right forearm struck the bunk bed post frame. He cut himself on the cut-out area of the bed post frame which he describes as being "in the shape of a weapon, a homemade knife." The cut-out area was about 14 inches long, about 3 feet above the ground.

Mr. Drake had noticed the cut-out area of the frame immediately when he moved into his cell because it was spray painted a fluorescent orange color and because he had seen the orange paint used on other bed frames in prison cells. To him, the orange paint meant that there was a piece of metal missing from the bunk bed.

Mr. Drake was taken to FCC-TH Health Services, where he reported that he had fallen and cut himself on his bunk. A nurse cleaned a 4 inch cut on his right forearm with saline and put a bandage on the cut. The wound was not actively bleeding during the exam. Mr. Drake reported ...


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