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Jefferson v. Hudgens

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

March 28, 2019

WILLIE JEFFERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
J. HUDGENS, et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JOHN A. ROSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 55.) Plaintiff opposes the motion. (Doc. 60.) Defendants replied. (Doc. 65.) Thereafter, the Court directed Defendants to respond to Plaintiffs allegations that Defendant had withheld discovery material. (Doc. 66.) Defendants did so. (Doc. 68.)

         Plaintiff also filed a surreply and second surreply. (Docs. 69, 70.) Although both were filed without leave of court, the Court will consider them. See, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (explaining that pro se plaintiffs are held to a less-stringent standard for pleadings).

         Background

         On October 5, 2015, while incarcerated at the Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston, Missouri, Plaintiff Willie Jefferson fractured his left foot playing softball. (Doc. 57 at ¶¶ 2-4; Doc. 61 at ¶¶ 2-3.) He was issued crutches and told not to put weight on his left foot, but he was not given a cast or boot. (Doc. 57 at ¶ 4; Doc. 61 at ¶ 3.) On October 21, 2015, Plaintiff was transferred to administrative segregation for possessing contraband. (Doc. 57 at ¶ 5; Doc. 61 at ¶ 4.) Pursuant to policy, his crutches were taken, and he was handcuffed. (Doc. 57 at ¶ 6; Doc. 61 at ¶ 6.)

         Defendants state that, after a brief attempt at hopping on his right foot, Plaintiff stated that he could not transport himself to administrative segregation. (Doc. 57 at ¶ 9.) Defendants assert that they then employed "a carry technique"-which involved lifting Plaintiff under either arm-to allow Plaintiff to avoid placing any weight on his left foot. (Id. at ¶ 11; Doc. 57-1 at 22:2-3.) They state that Plaintiff never complained or asked for his crutches. (Doc. 57 at ¶ 8.)

         Plaintiff asserts that Defendants forced him to hop a number of times despite telling them that he was in considerable pain. (Doc. 57 at ¶ 10.) Likewise, he states that he asked for his crutches and requested they wait for a medical cart before trying to transport him. (Id. at ¶ 7; Doc. 57-1 at 28:15-25.) In his deposition, Plaintiff described the "carry technique" as the Defendants lifting his arms as "high as they possibly can in the back" and dragging him. (Doc. 57-1 at 31:1-9.)

         At some point, Defendants were joined by a third correctional officer, who lifted Plaintiff by the legs such that he was no longer in contact with the ground. (Doc. 57 at ¶ 14; Doc. 57-1 at 22:11-16.) Defendants assert that they "took multiple breaks in order to give Plaintiff sufficient time to rest his non-injured leg." (Id. at ¶ 13.) Defendants eventually discovered a motorized medical cart, which they used to transport Plaintiff the rest of the way. In total, Plaintiff was carried "approximately one city block." (Doc. 57 at ¶ 15; Doc. 57-1 at 22:11-16.)

         Defendants also assert that, when they left Plaintiff in administrative segregation, they "were not aware of any specific medical condition" that Plaintiff might have been suffering and that they had no additional interactions with Plaintiff. (Doc. 57 at ¶¶ 18-19.) They assert that their attempts to transport Plaintiff were a good-faith effort to protect his left foot and to transport him "as safely and carefully as was possible given the circumstances." (Doc. 57 at ¶¶ 20-21.)

         In addition to his deposition testimony and statement of facts, Plaintiff provides medical records from the months following the transfer. (Doc. 60-2.) A month after the transfer, Plaintiff was diagnosed with a "small cortical avulsion near insertion of the peroneus brevis tendon" on the outside of his broken left foot, and was prescribed Ibuprofen. (Doc. 60-2 at 1.) Although the medical record notes the transfer in Plaintiffs medical history, there is no indication that the transfer caused or exacerbated Plaintiffs condition. (Id.) An X-ray was ordered, and Plaintiff was told to "avoid high impact and exercises that cause pain." (Id.) In December, Plaintiff was fitted with a walking boot and excused from work detail through February. (See Doc. 60-3 at 1-3.)

         On August 15, 2016, Plaintiff filed suit alleging that Defendants had been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Doc. 1.) He blames Defendants for ongoing pain and delayed healing. (Id.) Defendants move for summary judgment, arguing that they were aware of Plaintiffs injury and acted in good faith to accommodate him. (Doc. 56 at 3.) In addition, they argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity. (Id. at 9.)

         Legal Standards

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), a court may grant a motion for summary judgment only if "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The burden is on the moving party. City of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa v. Associated Elec. Coop. Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273 (8th Cir. 1988). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, all reasonable inferences must be drawn in a light most favorable to the non-moving party. Woods v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 409 F.3d 984, 990 (8th Cir. 2005). The evidence is not weighed and no credibility determinations are made. Jenkins v. Winter, 540 F.3d 742, 750 (8th Cir. 2008).

         The moving party's burden is to identify record evidence that demonstrates the absence of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. It need not provide proof negating the nonmovant's claim. Id. Once the moving party demonstrates that there is no genuine issue of material fact, the nonmovant must do more than show there is some doubt as to the facts. Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). "A plaintiff may not merely point to unsupported self-serving allegations, but must substantiate allegations with sufficient probative evidence that would permit a finding in the plaintiffs favor." Davidson & Assocs. v. Jung, 422 F.3d 630, 638 (8th Cir. 2005); see also, Conolly v. Clark,457 F.3d 872, 876 (8th Cir. 2006). Instead, the nonmoving party bears the burden of setting forth affirmative evidence and specific facts showing a genuine factual dispute that must be resolved at trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. "A dispute about a material fact is 'genuine' only 'if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'" Herring v. Canada Life ...


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