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Hamilton v. Russell

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

January 24, 2017

JAMES J. HAMILTON, Plaintiff,
v.
JONNA GRUBBS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CAROL E. JACKSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the motion of defendant Margaret Huff for summary judgment, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The issues are fully briefed.

         Plaintiff James J. Hamilton, an inmate confined at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center (ERDCC) in Bonne Terre, Missouri, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In Count VI of the fourth amended complaint, plaintiff claims that Huff, a corrections officer, was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs.

         I. Background

         On March 13, 2014, plaintiff was transferred from an administrative segregation unit in House 1 to an administrative segregation unit in House 2. Defendant Huff was one of the corrections officers assigned to House 2. Prior to his arrival, plaintiff was diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy, which causes pain and swelling of his feet if he ambulates without an assistive device. He was prescribed orthotic shoes to alleviate that pain and swelling.

         It is undisputed that Huff confiscated plaintiff's prescribed orthotic shoes upon his arrival in House 2. In her affidavit, Huff states that prisoners in administrative segregation are not allowed to have “regular shoes” and are instead given “special shoes” for safety reasons. She further states that an inmate who needs special shoes for medical reasons must obtain an “medical lay-in” from the prison medical staff. Finally, Huff states that she “was not aware of any particular medical need” of the plaintiff or of any risk to plaintiff's health or safety during his confinement in administrative segregation. [Doc. # 123-7, ¶¶ 4-6].

         Plaintiff submits evidence that a medical lay-in was issued to him on February 14, 2014, allowing him to use “medical shoes” as a “required” “assistive device.” The lay-in was valid for a one-year period. [Doc. # 69-2] . Plaintiff testified that he showed the lay-in to Huff and told her that he had been allowed to keep them when he was in administrative segregation in House 1. He also told her that if she took his shoes, his “feet [were] going to start burning” because of his diabetic neuropathy. [Doc. 123-10, p. 83] Nevertheless, Huff refused to allow plaintiff to have his medical shoes. Plaintiff further testified that he explained to Huff that he keeps his shoes on until he goes to sleep because he “cant' walk around on the concrete without them.” Id. at pp. 83-84. He told her that he “can feel the pain” even when he has “to get up to use the bathroom, ” though admittedly not as much pain as when he is “walking around . . . for a long period of time.” Id. Huff allegedly laughed in response and said, “you are not going to do too much walking around in the cell.” Id.

         Plaintiff was without his shoes for the duration of his confinement in House 2. He alleges he suffered foot inflammation and pain when he stood or walked in his cell during those weeks. He also maintains the pain and inflammation caused by ambulating without the shoes continued for “two to three months” after the shoes were returned to him. Id. at 84. On April 10, 2014, plaintiff was transferred to administrative segregation in House 1, where the medical shoes were immediately returned to him.

         II. Legal Standard

         Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment shall be entered if the moving party shows “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” In ruling on a motion for summary judgment the court is required to view the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and must give that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts. AgriStor Leasing v. Farrow, 826 F.2d 732, 734 (8th Cir. 1987). The moving party bears the burden of showing both the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and its entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1986); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). Once the moving party has met its burden, the non-moving party may not rest on the allegations of his pleadings but must set forth specific facts, by affidavit or other evidence, showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists. United of Omaha Life Ins. Co. v. Honea, 458 F.3d 788, 791 (8th Cir. 2006) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). Rule 56 “mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

         III. Discussion

         In Count VI, plaintiff asserts a § 1983 claim that Huff withheld prescribed treatment from him in deliberate indifference to his medical needs. The claim is brought against Huff in her individual capacity only. See [Doc. #89] (dismissing official capacity claim). Huff argues that she is entitled to summary judgment on the merits of this claim or, alternatively, to qualified immunity.

         A. Deliberate Indifference

         “It is well established that the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment extends to protect prisoners from deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.” Gregoire, 236 F.3d at 417 (citing Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104). “This is true whe[re] the indifference is manifested by . . . prison [officials] in . . . intentionally interfering with the treatment once prescribed.” Estelle, 429 ...


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