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Lucas v. Brewer

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division

January 17, 2019




         Plaintiff Keeth E. Lucas, an Indiana prisoner, brought this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the defendants Nurse Elizabeth Brewer, Nurse Ashley Brading, and Sheriff Frank Loop for failing to properly treat a cyst on the right side of his neck while he was incarcerated as a pretrial detainee at the Floyd County Jail. He also alleges that Sheriff Loop retaliated against him by removing him from his position as a trustee in the Floyd County Jail. The court screened the complaint and permitted Mr. Lucas' Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claims against the defendants and First Amendment retaliation claim against Sheriff Loop to proceed. Dkts. 10, 30. Presently pending before the court is the defendants' motion for summary judgment. For the reasons explained below, the motion for summary judgment, dkt. [59], is granted.

         I. Summary Judgment Legal Standard

         A motion for summary judgment asks the court to find that a trial is unnecessary because there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and, instead, the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). On summary judgment, a party must show the court what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of the events. Gekas v. Vasilades, 814 F.3d 890, 896 (7th Cir. 2016). The moving party is entitled to summary judgment if no reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Nelson v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 875 (7th Cir. 2009). 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. Skiba v. Illinois Cent. R.R. Co., 884 F.3d 708, 717 (7th Cir. 2018). It cannot weigh evidence or make credibility determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are left to the fact-finder. Miller v. Gonzalez, 761 F.3d 822, 827 (7th Cir. 2014). The court need only consider the cited materials, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3), and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has repeatedly assured the district courts that they are not required to “scour every inch of the record” for evidence that is potentially relevant to the summary judgment motion before them. Grant v. Trustees of Indiana University, 870 F.3d 562, 573-74 (7th Cir. 2017). Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Ponsetti v. GE Pension Plan, 614 F.3d 684, 691 (7th Cir. 2010).

         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). Local Rule 56-1(e) requires that facts asserted in a brief must be supported “with a citation to a discovery response, a deposition, an affidavit, or other admissible evidence.” Id. In addition, the court will assume that the facts as claimed and supported by admissible evidence by the movant are admitted without controversy unless “the non-movant specifically controverts the facts in that party's ‘Statement of Material Facts in Dispute' with admissible evidence” or “it is shown that the movant's facts are not supported by admissible evidence.” Local Rule 56-1(f). The court “has no duty to search or consider any part of the record not specifically cited in the manner described in subdivision (e).” Local Rule 56-1(h); see Kaszuk v. Bakery and Confectionery Union and Indus. Inter. Pension Fund, 791 F.2d 548, 558 (7th Cir. 1986) (“The court has no obligation to comb the record for evidence contradicting the movant's affidavits.”); Carson v. E.On Climate & Renewables, N.A., 154 F.Supp.3d 763, 764 (S.D. Ind. 2015) (“The Court gives Carson the benefit of the doubt regarding any disputed facts, however, it will not comb the record to identify facts that might support his assertions.”).

         II. Factual Background

         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 reasonably most favorable to Mr. Lucas 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 (2000).

         Mr. Lucas was booked into the Floyd County Jail on July 8, 2015. At some point prior to January 25, 2016, Mr. Lucas developed a cyst, or staph infection, on the right side of his neck. On January 25, 2016, Mr. Lucas filed a Medical Request through the Floyd County Jail's automated inmate filing system. In the Inquiry, Mr. Lucas stated “I would like to get a sist (sic) looked at on my neck.” The January 25, 2016, Medical Inquiry was the only inquiry, request, or grievance filed by Mr. Lucas in which he sought treatment for the infection on his neck.

         At the time of Mr. Lucas's incarceration at the Floyd County Jail, inmates used the Securus electronic filing system to file any inquiries, requests, or grievances. Inmates were required to file a medical request in order to request medical treatment or be seen during sick call. The Securus system was readily available to inmates and Mr. Lucas was aware of the need to file medical requests through the Securus electronic filing system, as evidenced by his request to receive treatment on his neck on January 25, 2016, and after receiving treatment for the infection on his neck, utilized it to make at least one medical request that was unconnected to the infection.

         Nurse Elizabeth Brewer was employed by the Floyd County Sheriff's Department as a jail nurse during all times relevant to this suit. On January 29, 2016, in response to Mr. Lucas' medical inquiry, Nurse Brewer examined Mr. Lucas and noted he had a golf ball sized abscess on the right side of his neck. The abscess was not open or draining, so Nurse Brewer was unable to obtain a culture of the site. Mr. Lucas' temperature was 97.8 when Nurse Brewer examined him. Nurse Brewer immediately started Mr. Lucas on a course of antibiotics, specifically, Bactrim and Cleocin. Nurse Brewer also began treating Mr. Lucas' abscess with warm compresses.

         After treating Mr. Lucas, Nurse Brewer contacted the Floyd County Jail physician, Dr. Daniel Eichenberger, MD. On January 29, 2016, Dr. Eichenberger followed up with Nurse Brewer and told her to continue treating Mr. Lucas with warm compresses two to three times per day. Mr. Lucas received the antibiotics Cleocin and Bactrim, as prescribed, for ten days. After Mr. Lucas' abscess was treated with two different antibiotics and warm compresses, Mr. Lucas did not file another medical request in which he requested treatment for the infection on his neck.

         At some unknown time later, Mr. Lucas' abscess burst while he was on his bunk. However, Mr. Lucas apparently did not contact medical staff about the incident.

         Nurse Ashley Brading testifies that she was not personally involved with providing Mr Lucas with medical care for the infection located on the right side of his neck. Nurse Brading did not diagnose or examine the infection on the right side of Mr. Lucas' neck nor did she decide what medical treatment was appropriate for the infection located on the right side of his neck because Nurse Brewer had already examined Lucas and provided treatment to him pursuant to the directions of Dr. Eichenburger. Nurse Brewer did not ask Nurse Brading to assist in the treatment of Mr. Lucas' neck nor did she inquire whether Nurse Brading concurred with Nurse Brewer's course of treatment.

         Frank Loop was the duly elected Sheriff of Floyd County, Indiana during all times relevant to this suit. Sheriff Loop did not diagnose the infection on the right side of Mr. Lucas' neck. Sheriff Loop did not decide what medical treatment was appropriate for the infection located on the right side of Mr. Lucas' neck. Sheriff Loop was not consulted on the diagnosis or treatment of such condition. Sheriff Loop is not a medical professional and as such he has never personally provided medical treatment to Mr. Lucas or any other inmate incarcerated at the Floyd County Jail. Rather, Sheriff Loop hired and/or contracted with qualified medical professionals to provide Mr. Lucas and all other inmates incarcerated at the Floyd County Jail with appropriate medical treatment. Sheriff Loop further testifies he never retaliated against ...

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