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Tripp v. Spanenburg

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

November 13, 2018

TERRY TRIPP, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM SPANENBURG Corizon, VIKKI BURDINE Dr., COURTNEY DELONEY Dr., Defendants.

          ENTRY GRANTING UNOPPOSED MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT

          HON. JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, CHIEF JUDGE

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Terry Tripp filed this civil rights action on January 30, 2017. At the time of filing, he was incarcerated at the Putnamville Correctional Facility (“Putnamville”). He filed an amended complaint on May 5, 2017. Dkt. 25. The Court screened the amended complaint and allowed the following claims to proceed against three medical defendants:

1) Dr. Vikki Burdine prescribed medications in powder form which is contrary to the manufacturers' instructions, and refused to prescribe Mr. Tripp Welbutrin, in violation of the Eighth Amendment;
2) Dr. Courtney Deloney refused to provide mental health treatment and refused to prescribe or allow other physicians to prescribe necessary mental health medications in violation of the Eighth Amendment and in retaliation for Mr. Tripp filing grievances, in violation of the First Amendment; and
3) Dr. Spanenberg prescribed medications in powder form which is contrary to the manufacturers' instructions and discontinued necessary medications without reason in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and in retaliation for filing grievances in violation of the First Amendment.

         Mr. Tripp seeks compensatory damages and injunctive relief. He is no longer incarcerated at Putnamville, so his claim for injunctive relief is dismissed as moot. See also dkt. 76 (denying plaintiff's motions for preliminary injunctive relief).

         The defendants have moved for summary judgment and Mr. Tripp has not opposed the motion. For the reasons explained in this Entry, the defendants' unopposed motion for summary judgment, dkt. [88], must be granted.

         II. Legal Standards

         The purpose of summary judgment is to “pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial.” Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). 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). The Court 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).

         The defendants' motion for summary judgment, brief in support, and Local Rule 56-1 notice were served on Mr. Tripp on or about March 26, 2018. Dkt. nos. 88, 89, 90, 91. As noted, no response has been filed, and the deadline for doing so has long passed.

         The consequence of Mr. Tripp's failure to respond is that he has conceded the defendants' version of the facts. Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003) (“[F]ailure to respond by the nonmovant as mandated by the local rules results in an admission.”); see S.D. Ind. Local Rule 56-1 (“A party opposing a summary judgment motion must . . . file and serve a response brief and any evidence . . . that the party relies on to oppose the motion. The response must . . . identif[y] the potentially determinative facts and factual disputes that the party contends demonstrate a dispute of fact precluding summary judgment.”). This does not alter the standard for assessing a Rule 56(a) 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).

         III. Discussion

         A. Undisputed Facts

         The following facts, unopposed by Mr. Tripp and supported by admissible evidence, are accepted as true:

         Dr. Vikki Burdine has been a licensed medical doctor in Indiana since 1990 and specializes in General Psychiatry. Dr. Burdine worked as a psychiatrist for Corizon LLC (“Corizon”) from April 2010 until March 31, 2017, when Wexford of Indiana (“Wexford”) became the contracted health care provider. As of the date the motion for summary judgment was filed, she was employed by Wexford as a psychiatrist.

         When Mr. Tripp was incarcerated in the Indiana Department of Correction (“IDOC”) in August 2016, he reported a history of mental health treatment for PTSD, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and depression. He also reported that he was taking Buspirone, Wellbutrin, and Gabapentin.

         Wellbutrin is a highly abused and trafficked drug within the IDOC and prisons across the country. Buspirone (Buspar) is commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and is used to augment antidepressants. Buspar generally has a low risk of dependence and does not cause feelings of euphoria. However, it has sedative effects that can cause some patients to abuse it. Gabapentin (Neurontin) is a nerve pain medication and anticonvulsant prescribed to treat seizures. ...


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