Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Shelby v. Oaks

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

August 26, 2019

SHANNON OAKS, Defendant.



         This matter is before the Court on cross motions for summary judgment filed by Defendant Shannon Oaks (“Oaks”) (Doc. No. 45) and Plaintiff Jimmy DeWayne Shelby (Doc. No. 52). Also before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel. (Doc. No. 55). The motions are fully briefed and ready for disposition. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion for summary judgment will be granted. Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and motion for appointment of counsel will be denied.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Oaks, a certified nurse practitioner who was at all relevant times employed by “Corizon Health” at the Missouri Department of Corrections at Eastern Reception and Diagnostic Correctional Center (“ERDCC”). Oaks treated Plaintiff while he was an inmate at ERDCC, and Plaintiff alleges that Oaks was deliberately indifferent to his serous medical needs while he was confined there.[1]

         The operative complaint contains the following allegations: Plaintiff claims that that he had been approved for surgery to correct his cervical spine stenosis, but Oaks disregarded the recommendation and decided to pursue alternative epidural treatment. He claims that during his numerous appointments with Oaks, he requested that MRIs be taken of his back and that he be approved for surgery. He claims Oaks refused “every time.” Plaintiff further alleges that Oaks told him that “Jefferson City is cutting back on having any surgeries performed.”

         Plaintiff also claims that he complained of swollen knees, that he sought a special mattress and wheelchair for his conditions, and that those requests were refused. Plaintiff seeks a Court order mandating that MRIs be taken of his back and that he be approved for surgical procedures to his cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine. He also seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

         II. Legal standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate when no genuine issue of material fact exists in the case and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The initial burden is placed on the moving party. City of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa v. Associated Elec. Co-op., Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273 (8th Cir. 1988). If the record demonstrates that no genuine issue of fact is in dispute, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party, who must set forth affirmative evidence and specific facts showing a genuine dispute on that issue. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). In determining whether summary judgment is appropriate in a particular case, the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Osborn v. E.F. Hutton & Co., Inc., 853 F.2d 616, 619 (8th Cir. 1988). Self-serving, conclusory statements without support are not sufficient to defeat summary judgment. Armour & Co., Inc. v. Inver Grove Heights, 2 F.3d 276, 279 (8th Cir. 1993).

         III. Facts[2]

         Plaintiff suffers from chronic neck and back pain, and he was enrolled in a chronic care program at the ERDCC. On October 19, 2015, Plaintiff's then-treating nurse submitted a request for Plaintiff to see a neurosurgeon due to his cervicalgia with upper extremity neuropathy. The regional medical director (“RMD”) approved the request “for neurosurgery consult.” (Id. at 14).

         On January 20, 2016, Plaintiff saw Philippe Mercier, M.D., a neurosurgeon at St. Louis University (“SLU”) Neurosurgery. Dr. Mercier had not received Plaintiff's most recent MRI, so he examined Plaintiff and planned to review the MRI, noting “If there is any possible findings, we will bring the patient back to clinic for review of his imaging.” (Id. at 15).

         Plaintiff followed up with Oaks on February 2, 2016, at which time he requested “lay-ins” and a special mattress. The next day, his MRI disc was received from Vista Imaging and sent to SLU Neurosurgery to be reviewed.

         On February 5, 2016, Plaintiff again treated with Oaks, who told Plaintiff that his MRI discs had been sent out, and she noted that he had no new complaints. Oaks assessed chronic neck/back pain and bilateral hand pain. She ordered Capsaicin cream for his hands after soaking in warm water. Oaks planned to follow up after she heard from SLU Neurosurgery regarding next steps.

         On February 15, 2016, Plaintiff met with Director of Nursing Todd Renshaw in response to Plaintiff's informal resolution request, in which Plaintiff complained that his neck surgery was being prolonged. Plaintiff in his affidavit claims that Renshaw told Plaintiff that the neurosurgeon had already viewed the MRI disc and wanted to perform the surgery. However, in his written response to Plaintiff's grievance, Renshaw wrote, “MRI forwarded to surgeon. He wants to proceed [with] surgery.” Renshaw in his affidavit asserts that “He wants to proceed [with] surgery” refers to Plaintiff, not Dr. Mercier. Renshaw asserts that he never spoke to or heard from Dr. Mercier, and neither Dr. Mercier nor any other neurosurgeon from SLU Neurosurgery followed up with the ERDCC medical staff. (Renshaw Aff., Doc. No. 46-3 at ¶ 5).

         On March 11, 2016, Oaks submitted a neurosurgery referral request because she was “unable to get communication from SLU concerning plans since consultation after several attempts.”[3] (Id. at 25). Oaks discussed the matter with the RMD, and he approved the request.

         On March 23, 2016, Plaintiff saw Jeff Lehmen, M.D., at SSM Health. Dr. Lehmen diagnosed cervicalgia and noted that a diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the spine. He recommended a referral to an Ear, Nose, and Throat (“ENT”) specialist for a vocal cord analysis prior to a right side anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (“ACDF”) procedure at the C4-5 level with removal of the existing hardware at ¶ 5-6.

         On March 28, 2016, Oaks submitted referrals for Plaintiff to see the ENT for a vocal cord analysis before returning to Dr. Lehmen for surgery. Oaks states in her affidavit that the RMD responded to the surgery request by asking how the injury impacted Plaintiff's activities of daily living, to which Oaks responded that there were no specific reports of the injury affecting Plaintiff's activities of daily living. (Oaks Aff., Doc. No. 46-1 at ¶ 17). She did, however, communicate that Plaintiff suffered from constant numbness and tingling to his left arm ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.