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Capler v. Samuel

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

July 25, 2019

JEFFERY CAPLER, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
BYRD SAMUEL, REGINA J. ROBINSON, ANNE M. CONNER, MARY RANKIN, Defendants.

          ENTRY GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          JAMES R. SWEENEY II JUDGE

         On October 17, 2017, Plaintiff Jeffery L. Capler, Jr., filed this civil action alleging that his Eighth Amendment rights were violated by the defendants while he was incarcerated at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. Specifically, Mr. Capler alleges that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs by delaying proper medical attention and medication for the “excruciating” pain in his left shoulder, arm, and hand between June 29, 2017, and September 22, 2017. Defendants Anne Conner, Regenia Robinson, and Samuel Byrd, M.D., [1] seek resolution of the claims alleged against them through summary judgment. Mr. Capler, with the assistance of court recruited counsel, has responded.[2] For the reasons explained below, the defendants' motion for summary judgment, dkt [52], is granted.

         I. Summary Judgment 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). As the current version of Rule 56 makes clear, whether a party asserts that a fact is undisputed or genuinely disputed, the party must support the asserted fact by citing to particular parts of the record, including depositions, documents, or affidavits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). A party can also support a fact by showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute or that the adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). Affidavits or declarations must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant is competent to testify on matters stated. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4). Failure to properly support a fact in opposition to a movant's factual assertion can result in the movant's fact being considered undisputed, and potentially in the grant of summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

         In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court need only consider disputed facts that are material to the decision. A disputed fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Williams v. Brooks, 809 F.3d 936, 941-42 (7th Cir. 2016). “A genuine dispute as to any material fact exists ‘if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'” Daugherty v. Page, 906 F.3d 606, 609-10 (7th Cir. 2018) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).

         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). 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. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.

         II. Material Facts

         A. Anne Conner

         Anne Conner is a registered nurse licensed to practice medicine in the State of Indiana. She is currently employed as a nurse at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle, Indiana. Prior to April 1, 2017, Ms. Conner was employed in this capacity by Corizon, LLC. Following April 1, 2017, she has held this position as an employee of Wexford of Indiana, LLC. Dkt. 54-2, ¶ 1-2.

         During Ms. Conner's time as a nurse at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, she had an opportunity to see and interact with a patient by the name of Jeffery Capler. Id. at ¶ 3.

         As a nurse at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, there are a number of obligations and duties that Ms. Conner had to perform each day, and they would change throughout the years, or based upon the needs of the facility. One of the roles that Ms. Conner would perform at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility was to complete nurse sick call and triage patients who were in need of medical care. Id. at ¶ 4.

         Patients at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility are instructed to submit written health care request forms for all non-emergent medical needs. Those written requests for health care are received by nursing staff onsite, and patients are scheduled to be seen by a nurse on nurse sick call. Ms. Conner would often be the nurse assigned to see patients who had submitted health care request forms. Id. at ¶ 5.

         Medical records reflect that on June 29, 2017, Mr. Capler submitted a Request for Health Care, which stated, “Im having this pain & funny feeling in my left arm from my shoulder on down my shoulder feels as if it not in the place. I need it looked at please.” Dkt. 1-1 at p. 3; Dkt. 54-2, ¶ 6.

         On July 3, 2017, Mr. Capler was seen by Ms. Conner as part of her assigned nurse sick call. At that time, Mr. Capler specifically informed Ms. Conner that his left arm would twitch and sometimes go numb. She checked his vitals, which were all normal, and he reported a history of a car accident in 2013. While he complained of discomfort, Ms. Conner noted that he had full range of motion of his arm, and that there were no signs of any weakness. Mr. Capler was aware of the ability to purchase medications onsite through the institutional commissary. Given his complaint, and that there were no objective signs of any weakness or limited range of motion, Ms. Conner provided Mr. Capler an instructional sheet regarding arm/hand exercises as well as shoulder exercises, and pursuant to nursing protocol, instructed him to perform these exercises for 6-8 weeks. She further instructed him that if at any time his symptoms were not improved, to submit another health care request for an evaluation. Dkt. 54-2, ¶ 6.

         On August 19, 2017, Mr. Capler submitted a second Request for Health Care, which stated,

I'm still having this pain & funny feeling in my left arm & hand it still going num nothing has changed since the last request I put in about on 6-29-17 in I did all of them exercises on the sheet that was given to me may I please get someone to see whats going on.

Dkt. 1-1 at p. 4.

         Mr. Capler was seen by Ms. Conner again on August 23, 2017, as part of nurse sick call. Mr. Capler reported that he had “something” going on with his upper gums, and he also reported pain and numbness that he believed had worsened since his prior nurse sick call visit in July. Ms. Conner checked his vital signs, which were again normal, and Mr. Capler again noted the history of a car accident, this time in 2012. Given that he was reporting his symptoms were worse, Ms. Conner ordered an evaluation by a practitioner onsite. Dkt. 54-2 at ¶ 7.

         On September 10, 2017, Mr. Capler submitted a third Request for Health Care, which stated, “This is request #3 about my left shoulder & arm & hand having pain & going num. The f[ir]st requ[es]t I put in about it was 6-29-17 & the second [request] was 8-19-17 I had did all the exercises that was giving to me & nothing has changed it is now 9-10-17 & I still haven't received any medical attention & I would like to [know] why? When she scheduled for me to see a doctor.” Dkt. 1-1 at p. 5.

         On September 13, 2017, Ms. Conner noted that Mr. Capler was scheduled with the doctor. She further noted that she had previously seen him on August 23, 2017, and that he had already been scheduled for an evaluation by a doctor, pursuant to her order on August 23, 2017. Dkt. 54-2 at ¶ 8.

         On September 18, 2017, Mr. Capler submitted a fourth Request for Health Care, which stated, “I am having this excruciating pain in my shoulder, arm, hand on my left side I was told that I had to wait to see the doctor but [until] then can I get ...


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