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Stewart v. Jackson

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

December 20, 2019

TYQUAN STEWART, a/k/a TYQUAN STEWART bey, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER JACKSON, T. McCULLOUGH, RENE JENNINGS, DR. DENNIS, CHAPLAIN SEIVERS, and ALLEN COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          William C. Lee, Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Taren McCullough and Rene Jennings (ECF 108). Plaintiff Tyquan Stewart bey filed a response brief in opposition to the motion (which he titled a “motion in opposition”) (ECF 112). The Defendants chose not to file a reply brief. For the reasons set forth below, the motion for summary judgment is GRANTED. The Clerk of the Court is instructed to enter judgment in favor of Defendants McCullough and Jennings and against Plaintiff Stewart bey. Plaintiff's claims against the remaining Defendants are unaffected by this order and remain pending.[1]

         BACKGROUND

         Tyquan Stewart bey filed this lawsuit on June 29, 2017, alleging that the Defendants violated his constitutional rights while he was being held at the Allen County Jail from May 22, 2017, to June 16, 2017. Complaint (ECF 1), p. 2. Specifically, as to McCullough and Jennings, Stewart bey contends that the Defendants failed to give him medication or to properly treat his high blood pressure and as a result he “fainted[, ] fell, and hit the back of my head. Since then I've been suffering from sever[e] headaches.” Id. On September 21, 2018, the Court (Magistrate Judge Paul Cherry) entered an order granting, in part, a motion by Stewart bey to file a Third Amended Complaint. Court Opinion and Order (ECF 57). Accordingly, the Third Amended Complaint (ECF 58) is the controlling Complaint in this case. Defendants Taren McCullough and Rene Jennings filed their Answer and Affirmative Defenses to the Third Amended Complaint on November 15, 2018 (ECF 68). In the Third Amended Complaint, Stewart bey states his claim against McCullough and Jennings, who were both nurses at the Allen County Jail during the time Stewart bey was incarcerated, as follows:

I Tyquan Stewart bey, Plaintiff, states that in the months of May and June of 2017 I Tyquan Stewart bey, was treated cruel and unusual [sic]. Two nurses one named T. McCullough, and the other named Rene Jennings, and a Doctor by the name of Dr. Dennis all deliberately and intentionally refuse [sic] to give me medication. Both nurse[s] and the [doctor] all knew about my serious medical condition. They knew my blood pressure was high and they still failed [to] give me medication or stabilize my condition.

         Third Amended Complaint, p. 2. Stewart bey contends that Defendants McCullough and Jennings “subjected me to cruel and [unusual] punishment which is a violation of my 8th amendment right[.]” Id., p. 3.[2] He claims the actions of the Defendants were “intentional, willful, wanton, and malicious” and that as a result he “suffered physical and permanent mental injury, pain, humiliation, mental anguish, emotional distress, and other damages.” Id., p. 5. He is suing to recover compensatory and punitive damages in the amount of $1.5 million. Id., p. 11.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         I. Pro se pleadings.

         Stewart bey is proceeding pro se. “A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). This court is mindful of the well-settled principle that, when interpreting a pro se petitioner's complaint, district courts have a “special responsibility” to construe such pleadings liberally. Donald v. Cook County Sheriff's Dep't, 95 F.3d 548, 555 (7th Cir. 1996); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976) (a “pro se complaint, ‘however inartfully pleaded' must be held to ‘less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers'”) (quoting Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972)). The mandated liberal construction afforded to pro se pleadings “means that if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the [petitioner] could prevail, it should do so despite the [petitioner's] failure to cite proper legal authority, his confusion of various legal theories, his poor syntax and sentence construction, or his unfamiliarity with pleading requirements.” Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1133 (10th Cir. 1999) (quoting Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991)). On the other hand, “a district court should not ‘assume the role of advocate for the pro se litigant' and may ‘not rewrite a petition to include claims that were never presented.'” Id.

         II. Summary judgment standard.

         Summary 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 issue of material fact exists when ‘the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'” Dulin v. Hankins, 2019 WL 6348023, at *1 (N.D. Ind. Nov. 26, 2019) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). “To determine whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the 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.” Id. (citing Heft v. Moore, 351 F.3d 278, 282 (7th Cir. 2003)).

         Disputes concerning material facts are genuine where the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In deciding whether genuine issues of material fact exist, the court construes all facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. See Id. at 255. However, neither the “mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties, ” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247, nor the existence of “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, ” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986), will defeat a motion for summary judgment. Michas v. Health Cost Controls of Ill., Inc., 209 F.3d 687, 692 (7th Cir. 2000).

         Summary judgment is not a substitute for a trial on the merits nor is it a vehicle for resolving factual disputes. Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 920 (7th Cir. 1994). Therefore, after drawing all reasonable inferences from the facts in favor of the non-movant, if genuine doubts remain and a reasonable fact-finder could find for the party opposing the motion, summary judgment is inappropriate. See Shields Enterprises, Inc. v. First Chicago Corp., 975 F.2d 1290, 1294 (7th Cir. 1992); Wolf v. City of Fitchburg, 870 F.2d 1327, 1330 (7th Cir. 1989). If it is clear that a plaintiff will be unable to satisfy the legal requirements necessary to establish his or her case, summary judgment is not only appropriate, but mandated. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322; Ziliak v. AstraZeneca LP, 324 F.3d 518, 520 (7th Cir. 2003). Rule 56 states in part as follows:

When a motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported, an opposing party may not rely merely on allegations or denials in [his] own pleading; rather [his] response must-by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule-set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. If the opposing party does not so ...

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