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Andress v. Richard

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

April 16, 2018


          David C. Dickmeyer INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL

          Amanda Elizabeth Fiorini INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL

          Sara Teresa Martin INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL


          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Daniel Andress was incarcerated at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility (Wabash Valley) when his left leg became tangled in computer wires under a table. When he attempted to stand up, he fell and fractured his left leg. The Court screened his complaint and determined that Mr. Andress adequately stated a claim against the law librarian, Karen Richards, pursuant to the Eighth Amendment and a state law claim for negligence.

         Presently pending before the Court is the defendant's motion for summary judgment filed on September 14, 2017. Dkt. No. 61.

         The defendant's motion argues that she was not deliberately indifferent to a hazardous condition and that she is immune from a claim of negligence under the Indiana Tort Claims Act. Mr. Andress's response argues that the defendant is not entitled to summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the defendant's motion for summary judgment, Dkt. No. 61, is granted.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the admissible evidence presented by the non-moving party must be believed and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the non-movant's favor. Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009) (“We view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.”). “When a motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported, an opposing party may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleading; rather, its response must-by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule-set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. If the opposing party does not so respond, summary judgment should, if appropriate, be entered against that party.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2). The nonmoving party bears the burden of demonstrating that such a genuine issue of material fact exists. Harney v. Speedway Super America, LLC., 526 F.3d 1099, 1104 (7th Cir. 2008). The non-moving party bears the burden of specifically identifying the relevant evidence of record, and “the court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment.” Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001).

         III. Statement of Material Facts Not in Dispute[1]

         The following statement of facts was evaluated pursuant to the standard 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 most favorable to Mr. Andress as the non-moving party with respect to the motion for summary judgment. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000).

         Defendant Karen Richard has been employed by the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) since 1994. She is currently employed as Program Coordinator 3 at Wabash Valley. Dkt. No. 62-1, ¶ 1. As Program Coordinator, one of her responsibilities includes supervising the two law libraries at Wabash Valley. Dkt. No. 62-1, ¶ 2.

         Mr. Andress has had a prosthetic leg on his left side for approximately 48 years. Dkt. No. 62-2, pp. 6-7. His prosthetic leg gets caught on things more than his other leg because he cannot feel anything in that foot. Generally, Mr. Andress does not look at his feet before moving forward and does not check his leg when standing up from a chair or desk before walking. Dkt. No. 62-2, pp. 9-10.

         There are computers in the library at Wabash Valley. Mr. Andress has been visiting the law library at Wabash Valley on and off for years. Dkt. No. 77-1, p. 5. The computer cords are located on the floor under the computer tables. Prior to the incident described in the complaint, Mr. Andress's right foot became hooked on a cord under the computer table in the law library. Dkt. No. 62-2, pp. 12-13; Dkt. No. 77-1, p. 2. He could feel the cord on his shoe but his foot did not “get caught” and the cord was not “wrapped around [his] shoe.” Dkt. No. 62-2, pp. 13, 15, 17. Mr. Andress looked down at his feet to make sure that he had a good foot hold before he pushed his chair back. Dkt. No. 62-2, pp. 31-32.

         Mr. Andress informed Ms. Richard that this foot touched one of the cords, and that “they need to be put up off the floor . . . they need to be moved out of the way.” Dkt. No. 62-2, pp. 14-15; Dkt. No. 77-1, p. 2.[2] Ms. Richard was aware that Mr. Andress had a prosthetic leg. Dkt. No. 77-1, p. 31. At some point, Offender Adrian Jerrell's leg was also tangled in the computer cords at the law library at Wabash Valley. Dkt. No. 77-1, p. 22.

         On August 19, 2015, Mr. Andress arrived at the Wabash Valley law library to use a computer. Dkt. No. 62-2, pp. 37-38. The cords at his computer station were identical to the cords at the computer station during the prior incident ...

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