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Lane v. Neal

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

April 24, 2019

WILLIE LANE, Plaintiff,
v.
RON NEAL, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Jon E. Deguilio, United States District Judge.

         Willie Lane, a prisoner without a lawyer, proceeds on an Eighth Amendment claim against Dawn Buss for acting with deliberate indifference to his chronic leg injury by preventing him from moving to a cell on the first or second floor. Buss filed the instant motion for summary judgment, arguing that she did not act with deliberate indifference because, when she consulted with the medical unit, she was informed that Lane did not have a medical pass for a low floor cell.

         Buss also provided Lane with the summary judgment notice required by N.D. Ind. L.R. 56-1 and a copy of both Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 and Local Rule 56-1. ECF 29. The notice informed Lane of the importance of filing a response. It advised that, unless he disputed the facts presented by Buss, the court could accept those facts as true. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). It further advised that a lack of response could result in the dismissal of his case. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). Nevertheless, Lane did not file a response.

         FACTS

         According to the complaint (ECF 1), Lane has a chronic leg injury that prevents him from climbing stairs. As a result, the medical staff has provided him with a medical pass for a low floor cell assignment. In October 2017, while Lane was in segregation, Assistant Warden Payne moved the segregation unit to the fourth and fifth floors. On November 15, 2017, Lane wrote to Warden Neal to request a low floor cell. Warden Neal consulted with Dawn Buss, a unit team manager who falsely informed Warden Neal that Lane did not have a medical pass. Lane informed Buss of this error, but she refused to move him to a different cell. On November 17, 2017, Lane informed Warden Neal of this error, and Warden Neal asked Lane to provide a copy of the medical pass.

         In support of the motion for summary judgment, Dawn Buss submitted declarations and a transcript of Lane's deposition. At deposition, Lane testified that he spoke with Buss on a single occasion in October 2017:

Defense Counsel: Have you ever spoken directly with Dawn Buss?
Lane: Uh-huh. Yes. I mean, excuse me. Yes.
Defense Counsel: And when was that?
Lane: I know she came on the range one day and I asked her, I asked her, I said, “Ms. Buss, you know I supposed to be on [the first or second floor].” She said, “Well, I ain't got nothing to do with that. I already know what you're going to say. [The disciplinary unit is on the fourth and fifth floors] now so I don't want to hear it.”
I really got upset about the way she brushed me off, but I just went ahead and I said okay. So I just filed a grievance then. I didn't say nothing else to her. So when I wrote to Ron Neal about it, he told me to send him some paperwork showing him that he has a [low floor pass], and he will correct it.

ECF 27-1 at 20, 30. On December 15, 2017, Lane was reassigned to a cell on the first floor. Id. at 26.

         In a sworn declaration (ECF 27-3), Buss attests that she is a unit team manager at the Indiana State Prison. Medical staff may issue medical passes to inmates for a cell assignment on the first or second floors. Inmates are given a paper copy of medical passes to show correctional staff. On October 20, 2017, Buss moved inmates in the disciplinary segregation unit to the fourth and fifth floors of D Cell House. This included moving Lane, who was in disciplinary segregation at that time, from the fifth floor to the fourth floor. Lane told Buss that he had a medical pass but did not show it to her upon request. Buss asked medical staff about whether Lane had a medical pass, and they responded that he did not.

         In another sworn declaration (ECF 27-2), Christine Rossi attests that she is a nurse at the Indiana State Prison and has reviewed Lane's medical records. Medical staff has issued Lane medical passes for a cell assignment on the first or second floor, and he currently has one that expires on July 29, 2019. Occasionally, these medical passes are allowed to expire with some delay ...


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