United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
RAYMOND A. BRILEY, Plaintiff,
JULIE LAWSON, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
A. Briley, a prisoner without a lawyer, currently proceeds on
claims against Deputy Myers, Deputy Merrill, Deputy Rayl, and
Lieutenant McPherson for denying him medical treatment after
a slip-and-fall at the St. Joseph County Jail in violation of
the Eighth Amendment ECF 14. He also proceeds on a claim that
these defendants placed him on suicide watch and issued
disciplinary reports against him for informing them of his
slip-and-fall in violation of the First Amendment. The
defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment on
all claims, and Briley has filed a response.
relevant times, Briley was a prisoner at the St. Joseph
County Jail, and the defendants were correctional staff at
the St. Joseph County Jail. According to the defendants'
exhibits, which include affidavits, jail policies, incident
reports, and medical records, the following occurred. During
the afternoon on June 13, 2017, Briley fell in the dayroom in
a small puddle of water that had formed because of a leaky
ceiling. ECF 56-1. Nurse Dawn told Deputy Myers that she saw
the fall, and Deputy Myers called out “man down”
over the jail radio system. Id. Deputy Myers, Deputy
Merrill, Deputy Rayl, and Nurse Dawn entered the dayroom, and
Nurse Dawn evaluated Briley. Id. Meanwhile, in the
tech room, Lieutenant McPherson reviewed the video
surveillance footage and observed that Briley had jogged
toward the puddle of water, immediately fell on his back,
cushioned his fall with his right arm and shoulder, and
remained on the floor until staff arrived. ECF 56-4. He
concluded that the fall was intentional, announced his
conclusion over the radio, and went to the dayroom.
Id. Nurse Dawn told Lieutenant McPherson that she
evaluated Briley but did not see any injuries. Id.
his arrival, Lieutenant McPherson asked Briley if he was
suicidal or had any intention of harming himself, and Briley
said no. Id. Nevertheless, Lieutenant McPherson
believed that the intentional fall was unusual behavior and
suggested a desire for self-harm, and he referred Briley to
Mental Health Services, who placed him on suicide watch.
Id. He based this decision on the St. Joseph County
Jail policy on suicide prevention and intervention as well as
his training on determining whether an inmate requires mental
health treatment. Id. The policy includes the
Any staff member who perceives an inmate as a possible
suicide risk will notify medical and supervisory staff
immediately. Any inmate identified as needing to see mental
health personnel will have a referral form filled out which
includes observed behavior, relevant statement, past and
current mental health problems or suicidal tendencies, date
form filled out, and staff member filling out form.
that evening, Briley reported pain, and medical staff
measured his vitals and gave him Tylenol. ECF 56-5 at 8. On
June 14, 2017, Briley had no complaints, and medical staff
noted no significant symptoms. Id. On June 15,
medical staff discharged Briley from suicide watch.
Id. at 23. X-rays of the spine and right shoulder
revealed only degenerative changes. Id. at 10, 13.
on his belief that Briley fell intentionally, Lieutenant
McPherson also charged Briley with disruptive conduct,
malingering, and lying to staff under the jail disciplinary
policy. ECF 56-4. A disciplinary hearing officer found him
guilty based on conduct reports and the video surveillance
response, Briley maintains that he was injured as a result of
the fall, that the defendants denied him medical attention,
and that the suicide watch placement and the disciplinary
constituted retaliation. ECF 60. He contends that his attempt
to break his fall with his hand demonstrates that he had no
intent to harm himself. He further contends that the
defendants have shown themselves to be untruthful by falsely
asserting that he failed to exhaust administrative remedies.
judgment must be granted when “there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A
genuine dispute of material fact exists when “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). In
determining whether summary judgment is appropriate, the
deciding court must construe all facts in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable
inferences in that party's favor. Ogden v.
Atterholt, 606 F.3d 355, 358 (7th Cir. 2010).
“[V]aluations of witness credibility are inappropriate
at the summary judgment stage.” Springer v.
Durflinger, 518 F.3d 479, 484 (7th Cir. 2008).
alleges that the defendants acted with deliberate
indifference to his medical needs by preventing him from
receiving medical attention after the slip-and-fall. To
prevail on this claim, Briley must show: (1) his medical need
was objectively serious; and (2) the defendant acted with
deliberate indifference to that medical need. Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). A medical need is
“serious” if it is one that a physician has
diagnosed as mandating treatment, or one that is so obvious
that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity
for a doctor's attention. Greeno v. Daley, 414
F.3d 645, 653 (7th Cir. 2005). Deliberate indifference means
that the defendant “acted in an intentional or
criminally reckless manner, i.e., the defendant must have
known that the plaintiff was at serious risk of being harmed
and decided not to do anything to prevent that harm from
occurring even though he could have easily done so.”
Board v. Farnham, 394 F.3d 469, 478 (7th Cir. 2005).
start, Briley has not identified a serious medical need or a
specific injury. While a slip-and-fall may result in injury,
it is not, by itself, a serious medical need. Notably, no
medical evidence indicates that Briley was injured; instead,
the X-rays to his spine and right shoulder reveal only
degenerative changes. Further, the undisputed record does not
indicate that the defendants deprived Briley of medical
attention. According to the record, Deputy Myers, Deputy
Merrill, and Deputy Rayl brought Nurse Dawn with them in the
immediate response to Briley's fall. Nurse Dawn assessed
Briley, observed no injuries, and relayed her conclusions to
the defendants. Lieutenant McPherson then submitted a mental
health referral to the medical unit, and he was placed on
suicide watch under the care of ...