United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division
D. NOCE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Tomas Cabrera, M.D., has moved for summary judgment on
plaintiff Christopher Abrams' claim of deliberate
indifference to his serious medical needs. (ECF Nos. 1, 60).
The parties have consented to the exercise of plenary
authority by the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge
under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). For the reasons below, the
court grants defendant's motion for summary judgment.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
a Missouri state prisoner, seeks relief under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against defendant Cabrera in his individual
capacity. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff alleges that the defendant,
a prison physician where plaintiff was incarcerated, was
deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's serious medical
need, in that he failed to treat his mature eye cataract in a
timely fashion, which caused irreversible damage to his eye.
(Id.) Defendant asserts that he provided reasonable
medical care and seeks summary judgment on plaintiff's
claims. (ECF No. 60). Plaintiff responds that there are
genuine issues of fact as to whether Cabrera's actions
rose to the level of gross negligence and a deliberate
indifference to plaintiff's serious medical need. (ECF
court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
judgment is proper “if there is no dispute of material
fact and reasonable fact finders could not find in favor of
the nonmoving party.” Shrable v. Eaton Corp.,
695 F.3d 768, 770 (8th Cir. 2012). The party moving for
summary judgment must show the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact on which the non-moving party has the burden of
proof and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325-27 (1986). The burden shifts
to the non-moving party to demonstrate that disputes of fact
do exist. Id.
is “material” if it could affect the ultimate
disposition of the case, and a factual dispute is
“genuine” if there is substantial evidence to
support a reasonable jury verdict in favor of the nonmoving
party. Rademacher v. HBE Corp., 645 F.3d 1005, 1010
(8th Cir. 2011). The court must view the evidence in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party and accord it the
benefit of all reasonable inferences. Scott v.
Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 379-80 (2007).
the moving party has met its burden “its opponent must
do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical
doubt as to the material facts.” Id. at 380
(quoting Matsushita Elec. Ind. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp. 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986)). The nonmoving party
may not rest on the allegations in his pleading alone, but
must "present evidence from which a jury might return a
verdict in his favor. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 257 (1986). If the
nonmoving party fails to proffer substantial evidence of an
essential element of a claim, summary judgment is appropriate
on that claim because “a complete failure of proof
concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's
case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.”
Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323.
otherwise noted, the following facts are without substantial
dispute. Plaintiff Christopher Abrams was incarcerated by the
Missouri Department of Corrections (“MDOC") in the
Northeast Correctional Center (“NECC”) from July
2014 to March 2015. At this time, Corizon was under contract
with the State of Missouri to provide medical care and
treatment to MDOC inmates. Defendant Tomas Cabrera, M.D., was
employed by Corizon as a physician to provide medical care
and treatment to inmates at NECC, including plaintiff.
July 25, 2014, plaintiff had a history of problems in his
right eye, including a hypermature nuclear cataract,
amblyopia,  and esotropia. Plaintiff had suffered from
partial blindness in that eye since at least 1994. An
ophthalmologist examined plaintiff in June 2014 and
prescribed eyeglasses. On July 25, 2014, plaintiff
self-declared a medical emergency and presented himself for
medical attention, complaining that his right eye hurt. A
prison nurse examined his eye, noting the presence of a small
amount of red on the white of his eye and that he could not
keep his eye open for very long. Defendant saw plaintiff
later on July 25, 2014.
examined plaintiff's right eye, finding the eyeball was
red with increased pressure in it. Defendant determined that
plaintiff's signs and symptoms were consistent with eye
infections he diagnosed and treated in other patients and
diagnosed plaintiff with an eye infection. He accessed
plaintiff's medical chart to determine if plaintiff was
allergic to antibiotics, then prescribed an antibiotic for
the infection, ibuprofen for pain, a return visit to medical
the next day if he was not better, and rest from work and
recreation for one week. (ECF No. 61 at ¶¶ 17-22).
did not work the following two days, so he next saw plaintiff
three days later, on July 28. Defendant did not know until
that time that plaintiff's right eye had continued to be
painful and red with increased pressure. As soon as defendant
saw plaintiff's condition, that his right eye had not
improved, he consulted with an ophthalmologist by telephone
and scheduled to have plaintiff seen the next morning. The
ophthalmologist was concerned that plaintiff might have ...