United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ENTRY DENYING IN PART AND GRANTING IN PART
DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DIRECTING
William T. Lawrence, Judge United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
Efren Mendoza-Vargas (“Mr. Mendoza”) is an inmate
in the custody of the Indiana Department of Correction
(“IDOC”) at the Wabash Valley Correctional
Facility (“Wabash Valley”). His amended civil
rights complaint brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleges
that defendants Dr. Samuel Byrd and Robin Knust, R.N. acted
with deliberate indifference to Mr. Mendoza's facial
injury that occurred while he was playing soccer. He seeks
compensatory and punitive damages.
defendants seek resolution of the plaintiff's claims
through summary judgment. Mr. Mendoza has opposed the motion,
defendants replied, and Mr. Mendoza filed a surreply. The
motion is ripe for resolution. For the reasons explained in
this Entry, the defendants' motion for summary judgment,
[Dkt. 38], is denied in part and granted in part.
Summary Judgment Standard
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).
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).
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. Mendoza as the non-moving party with respect
to the motion for summary judgment. See Reeves v.
Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150
Mendoza is from Mexico and has an average education level of
4th-5th grade. Spanish is his primary
language and he struggles with English. He has received help
from another inmate in litigating this case. Dkt. 46-1,
(Declaration of Mendoza), p. 14, ¶¶ 4-5, p. 22,
September 27, 2015, Mr. Mendoza collided with another inmate
while playing soccer. He was knocked unconscious and suffered
an injury to the area below his right eye. After he woke up,
he walked to the Wabash Valley clinic with assistance from
the other inmate involved in the collision, and another
inmate. Both injured inmates were seen by Robin Knust, R.N.
(“Nurse Knust”). Mr. Mendoza was bleeding from a
cut to the orbital area below his right eye. Dkt. 39-3,
(Declaration of Robin Knust, R.N.), ¶ 6; Dkt. 39-2,
(Medical Records), pp. 30-31; Dkt. 16, (Amended Compl.), pp.
Knust cleaned and dried the affected area on Mr.
Mendoza's cheek and applied ice to reduce potential
swelling. The bleeding from the injury to his cheek stopped
when Nurse Knust applied pressure. Nurse Knust then applied
steri-strips to close the cheek laceration. She also applied
a band-aid to a small cut above Mr. Mendoza's eyebrow.
She gave Mr. Mendoza cool compresses to control swelling in
the area of his injury.
Mendoza's injury occurred on a Sunday afternoon, there
was no physician on site at the facility. During her
examination, Nurse Knust telephoned Dr. Samuel Byrd who was
the physician on call that day. She described the injury to
Dr. Byrd and her assessment of Mr. Mendoza's physical
condition. Dr. Byrd entered an order to start Mr. Mendoza on
an antibiotic (Keflex) and requested that Mr. Mendoza be seen
by him for a follow-up evaluation the next day.
Knust's examination and treatment of Mr. Mendoza on
September 27, 2015, was the extent of her involvement in his
medical care. Dkt. 39-3, ¶¶ 6, 7. During the
examination, Mr. Mendoza was conscious, responsive and
cooperative with the treatment the nurse provided.
Knust did not rule out a possible concussion or the possible
need for sutures to close the cheek wound. Id. at
¶ 7. The medical chart reflects that Nurse ...