United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
William T. Lawrence, Senior Judge
Plaintiff Lance Howard, an Indiana State prisoner, filed this
lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that
Defendants Katherine James (“RN James”) and
Loretta White (“NP White”) were deliberately
indifferent to an injury he sustained to his right index
finger in violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment
to the U.S. Constitution. The amended complaint alleges:
[O]n June 12, 2017, Nurse Katherine James, RN, and Nurse
Loretta, LPN, were allegedly deliberately indifferent to his
serious medical needs when they failed to send him to an
outside emergency room for treatment of his hand injuries and
associated pain. In addition, Nurse James wrapped up Mr.
Howard's finger before custody staff could take pictures
and falsified Mr. Howard's medical records to reflect
that he was ordered a higher dose of medication.
Dkt. 10 at p. 2 (screening order) and dkt. 7 (amended
seek resolution of this action through summary judgment. For
the reasons explained below, RN James and NP White are
entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law on the claims
alleged in the amended complaint. The motion for summary
judgment, dkt. 79, is granted.
Standard of Review
judgment should be granted “if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to a 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). The Court views the facts in the light most favorable
to the non-moving party and all reasonable inferences are
drawn in the non-movant's favor. Ault v.
Speicher, 634 F.3d 942, 945 (7th Cir. 2011). “The
applicable substantive law will dictate which facts are
material.” National Soffit & Escutcheons, Inc.,
v. Superior Systems, Inc., 98 F.3d 262, 265 (7th Cir.
1996) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248).
times relevant to this lawsuit, Mr. Howard was incarcerated
in the Indiana Department of Correction (“IDOC”)
and housed at the Reception Diagnostic Center
(“RDC”). On June 12, 2017, Mr. Howard sustained
an injury to his right index finger when his hand was caught
in his cell door upon opening.
NP White is an advanced practice nurse (“APN”)
licensed in the state of Indiana. An APN is also referred to
as a nurse practitioner (“NP”). A nurse
practitioner is considered a provider and can diagnose
patients, prescribe medications, and make treatment plans for
patients just like a physician. At all times relevant to Mr.
Howard's amended complaint, NP White was employed at the
RDC as a nurse practitioner by Wexford of Indiana, LLC, a
private company that contracts with IDOC to provide medical
services to Indiana prisoners.
James is a registered nurse (“RN”) licensed in
the state of Indiana. At all times relevant to Mr.
Howard's amended complaint, RN James was employed at the
RDC as a registered nurse by Wexford of Indiana, LLC. As a
registered nurse, RN James provides patient care, which
includes, but is not limited to, assessing patients,
obtaining vital signs, and following provider (i.e.,
physician, physician's assistant, or nurse practitioner)
orders, such as administering and dispensing medications. RN
James is able to enter a provider's orders into a
patient's Electronic Medical Record (“EMR”).
As a registered nurse, RN James does not prescribe
medications, diagnose patients, develop a treatment plan for
patients, or dictate a patients' medical care-only a
provider can do that.
12, 2017, NP White and RN James were working at the RDC when
Mr. Howard came to the medical unit complaining of pain to
his right index finger due to an injury. Upon visual
inspection, the finger nail of the right index finger was
pulled out and there was active bleeding.
James cleaned the wound and applied pressure to control the
White performed a physical examination of Mr. Howard's
right index finger and determined that stitches were not
required and there was no apparent threat of loss of life or
limb. Based on her professional training and experience as a
nurse practitioner, NP White determined that the injury did
not require consultation with a physician or transfer to a
hospital emergency department. The wound was simple and could
be cleaned and ...