United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, SENIOR JUDGE
Austin Eckes is an inmate who at all relevant times was
incarcerated at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility
(“Wabash Valley”). He brought this action pro se
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Nurse Barbara Riggs, who
he alleges denied him a splint for his broken finger and
failed to adequately treat his stomach ulcers.
pending is Nurse Riggs' motion for summary judgment. Mr.
Eckes has not responded, and the time to do so has passed.
This leaves Nurse Riggs' motion unopposed. For the
reasons explained below, Nurse Riggs' motion for summary
judgment is granted.
Summary Judgment Legal Standard
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.
See 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). 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, 477 U.S. at 248. 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).
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. Barbera v. Pearson Education, Inc., 906 F.3d
621, 628 (7th Cir. 2018). The Court cannot weigh evidence or
make credibility determinations on summary judgment because
those tasks are left to the fact-finder. Johnson v.
Advocate Health & Hospitals Corp., 892 F.3d 887, 893
(7th Cir. 2018).
Mr. Eckes has failed to respond to Nurse Riggs' motion,
he has conceded her version of the events. See McMahan v.
Deutsche Bank AG, 892 F.3d 926, 929 n.2 (7th Cir. 2018)
(“[F]ailure to respond by the nonmovant as mandated by
the local rules results in an admission.” (citation and
quotation marks omitted)); see also 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 motion, but it 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).
following factual background is drawn from the undisputed
evidence submitted by Nurse Riggs. At all relevant times, Mr.
Eckes was an inmate at Wabash Valley and Nurse Riggs employed
there as a nurse. As a nurse at Wabash Valley, Nurse Riggs
could assess patients and follow provider orders, such as
administering medications. Dkt. No. 32-1 at 1. But she could
not prescribe medications, diagnose patients, or dictate
their care. Id.
early February 2018, Mr. Eckes broke his pinky finger playing
basketball. Id. at 2-3. Dr. Byrd explained to Mr.
Eckes that x-rays confirmed his finger was broken.
Id. at 3. Dr. Byrd initially applied an ulnar gutter
splint, but that caused Mr. Eckes pain, so Dr. Byrd removed
it and applied a tongue blade splint. Id. This
splint was to be worn until Mr. Eckes saw an outside
specialist. Id. On two occasions in late February
2018 Mr. Eckes submitted a Request for Healthcare
(“RFHC”) form requesting medical tape for his
splint, and Nurse Riggs responded on both occasions by
providing him medical tape. Id.
Eckes saw an orthopedic specialist on March 2, 2018.
Id. at 4. The orthopedic specialist provided Mr.
Eckes with a “buddy strap” to replace his splint
and instructed him to wear it except when showering or
washing his hands. Id. The buddy strap, unlike the
splint, kept the fourth and fifth fingers together.
Id. The orthopedic specialist also recommended
gentle range of motion exercises and not to hyperextend his
finger beyond the normal range of motion. Id. The
splint was thus not to be used any longer, as it
hyperextended his finger. Id.
days later, Mr. Eckes overdosed on Tylenol and Ibuprofen and
was taken to the hospital via ambulance. Id. Testing
at the hospital revealed that Mr. Eckes had three
superficial, non-bleeding gastric ulcers. Id.
Biopsies of the ulcers were normal. Id. Mr. Eckes
returned to Wabash Valley on March 8, 2018. Id.
Denning met with Mr. Eckes on March 13, 2018. Because of the
ulcers, Dr. Denning recommended to Mr. Eckes that he avoid
fatty, spicy, and acidic foods, as well as caffeine and
peppermint. Id. at 5. However, Dr. Denning did not
order Mr. Eckes to be placed on a special diet. Id.
Mr. Eckes could not receive a special diet without an order
from his medical provider, and Nurse Riggs did not have the
authority to issue such an order. Id.
March 27, 2018, Mr. Eckes went to the hospital for an MRI on
his finger. Id. When he returned to Wabash Valley
that same day, he submitted a RFHC asking for the MRI results
and whether he would need surgery. Id.; Dkt. No.
32-2 at 91. Nurse Riggs responded to the RFHC by informing
Mr. Eckes that he was scheduled for a follow-up ...