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Davis v. United States

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

August 20, 2019




         Plaintiff Jim Wesley Davis, a federal inmate, alleges that the medical staff at the Federal Correctional Institution in Terre Haute, Indiana, (“FCI Terre Haute”) provided him inadequate medical treatment following hernia surgery in July 2017. Davis claims that as a result of this inadequate treatment he developed an infection and was hospitalized for several days. Davis brings this suit for money damages against the United States of America under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”). The United States seeks resolution of this action through summary judgment. For the reasons explained below, the motion for summary judgment, dkt [31], is granted.

         I. Standard of Review

         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). See also Local Rule 56-1(e) (citations to supporting facts required) and 56-1(k) (Notice to Pro Se Litigant at dkt. 33).

         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).

         II. Factual Background

         Applying the standard set forth above, the following facts are accepted as true for the purpose of resolving the pending motion for summary judgment.

         A. Background

         Davis is a federal inmate incarcerated at FCI Terre Haute. He is not a physician, has no medical training, and has never worked in any job relating to medicine.

         In 2006, Davis had a liver transplant operation at Baylor All Saints Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. As a result of the liver transplant, Davis has a compromised immune system. He takes cyclosporine, an immunosuppressive drug that is used to prevent organ rejection.

         B. Davis's Hernia Surgery and Post-Surgical Medical Treatment

         On May 1, 2017, while a federal inmate, Davis underwent surgery to repair a ventral hernia. This surgery was conducted by Dr. Mark Lynch at Union Hospital in Terre Haute, Indiana. During the May 1, 2017, surgery, Dr. Lynch replaced a piece of exhausted mesh (from Davis's prior hernia surgery) with a new piece of mesh. Dr. Lynch informed Davis that it was normal to retain fluid and have swelling near the surgical area following surgery.

         After the hernia surgery, Davis returned to FCI Terre Haute on or around May 4, 2017. On May 8, 2017, Davis was seen at sick call by Heather Mata, a physician's assistant at FCI Terre Haute. During this appointment, Davis requested an increase in his prescription for Percocet. Davis claims that, during ...

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