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Evans v. Emerson

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

January 8, 2019

PHILLIP ANDREW EVANS, Plaintiff,
v.
EMERSON, DIANA JONES, Defendants.

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

          JAMES R. SWEENEY II, JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Phillip Andrew Evans was incarcerated at the Vigo County Jail (Jail) when the events alleged in the complaint occurred. He is currently confined at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. Mr. Evans filed a civil rights complaint regarding the medical care he received while incarcerated at the Jail. The Court screened the complaint and determined that Mr. Evans adequately stated an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against Dr. Emerson and Nurse Diana Jones when they discontinued pain medication which resulted in him experiencing pain in his hand and difficulty with daily tasks.

         Presently pending before the Court is the defendants' motion for summary judgment filed on October 16, 2018. Dkt. 66. Mr. Evans did not file a response and the time do so has now passed.

         The defendants' motion argues that Mr. Evans's claims are without merit because it was not objectively unreasonable for them to discontinue his pain medication after he was caught cheeking it. For the reasons set forth below, the defendants' motion for summary judgment, dkt. 66, 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)(3). The non-moving 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).

         Mr. Evans failed to respond to the defendants' summary judgment motion. Accordingly, facts alleged in the motion are deemed admitted so long as support for them exists in the record. See 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”); Brasic v. Heinemanns, Inc., 121 F.3d 281, 285-286 (7th Cir. 1997) (affirming grant of summary judgment where the nonmovant failed to properly offer evidence disputing the movant's version of the facts); 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 summary judgment standard, but it does “reduce the pool” from which facts and inferences relative to the motion may be drawn. Smith v. Severn, 129 F.3d 419, 426 (7th Cir. 1997).

         III. Statement of Material Facts Not in Dispute

          The defendants have submitted admissible evidence to establish the following material facts, which were not controverted by Mr. Evans.

         Mr. Evans's hand was injured in an automobile accident in 2004. Dkt. 68-1, p. 1. He took hydrocodone “as needed” for the pain in his hand prior to his incarceration. Id., p. 4. During a Jail detention in 2005 and 2006, Mr. Evans was treated using only an NSAID (naproxen) pain reliever for eleven (11) months. Dkt. 68-2, p. 3-11.

         On or about December 31, 2013, Mr. Evans was arrested and incarcerated as a pre-trial detainee in the Jail. Dkt. 68-1, p. 5. Quality Correctional Care, LLC provides medical care to the inmates at the Jail.

         Quentin Emerson is a physician licensed in the State of Indiana who provided care to Mr. Evans at the Jail. Dkt. 68-3, ¶¶ 2, 3, 5, 6. Diana Jones is a Registered Nurse in the State of Indiana who provided care to Mr. Evans at the Jail. Dkt. 68-4 ¶¶ 2, 4, 7, 8. Both are Quality Correctional Care, LLC, employees.

         Nurse Jones was responsible for administering Mr. Evans's medication to him. Id., ¶ 11. While at the Jail, Mr. Evans took gabapentin for nerve pain. Dkt. 68-3, ¶¶ 7, 8. While administering Mr. Evans's medication on June 20, 2016, Nurse Jones observed him “cheeking” his medication. Id., ¶ 12. Nurse Jones documented the incident and stated: “caught offender cheeking his gabapentin . . . [w]hen doing a mouth check . . . the gabapentin almost popped ...


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