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Laramore v. Thompson

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

September 16, 2019

SHANNON THOMPSON, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Dennis Laramore ("Plaintiff"), proceeding pro se, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Shannon Thompson ("Thompson"), Captain of the Washington County Sheriffs Office; Kevin Snow ("Snow"), a Washington County Sheriffs Deputy; and Christopher Barton ("Barton"), a Washington County Sheriffs Road Deputy, in their individual capacities.[1]Plaintiff alleges Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs and subjected him to unlawful conditions of confinement while he was incarcerated at the Washington County Jail (the "Jail") from April 25, 2017 to September 1, 2017 awaiting sentencing. This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. No. 59). The motion is fully briefed and ready for disposition. For the following reasons, the motion will be granted.

         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. Qsborn v. E.F. Hutton & Co., Inc., 853 F.2d 616, 619 (8th Cir. 1988). Self-serving, conclusory statements without support are insufficient to defeat summary judgment. Armour & Co.. Inc. v. Inver Grove Heights, 2 F.3d 276, 279 (8th Cir. 1993).

         Plaintiff did not respond to Defendants' Statement of Uncontroverted Material Facts ("SOF") (Doc. No. 61), as required under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 and Local Rule 4.01(E). Plaintiffs status as a pro se prisoner does not excuse him from responding to Defendants' motion "with specific factual support for his claims to avoid summary judgment," or from complying with local rules. Beck v. Skon, 253 F.3d 330, 333 (8th Cir. 2001). With his failure to respond, Plaintiff is deemed to have admitted all facts in Defendants' Statement of Uncontroverted Facts. Turner v. Shinseki, No. 4:08-CV-1910 CAS, 2010 WL 2555114, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Jun. 22, 2010) (citing Deichmann v. Boeing Co., 36 F.Supp.2d 1166, 1168 (E.D. Mo. 1999), aff'd 232 F.3d 907 (8th Cir. 2000), cert, denied, 531 U.S. 877)). However, Plaintiffs failure to respond properly to Defendants' motion does not mean summary judgment should be automatically granted in favor of Defendants. Even if the facts as alleged by Defendants are not in dispute, those facts still must establish they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Cross v. MHM Corr. Servs., Inc., No. 4:1 l-CV-1544 TIA, 2014 WL 5385113, at *3 (E.D. Mo. Oct. 10, 2014).


         A. Deliberate indifference to medical needs

          Defendants first argue they are entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiffs claim for deliberate indifference because bis alleged medical conditions were not objectively serious and because he received adequate medical care at the Jail. In addition, Plaintiff has not proffered verifying medical evidence establishing that any alleged delay in treatment had a detrimental effect on his medical condition.

         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. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). Deliberate indifference may include intentionally denying or delaying access to medical care, or intentionally interfering with treatment or medication that has been prescribed. Id. at 104-05. To establish deliberate indifference, a plaintiff must show that: (1) he suffered from an "objectively serious medical need"; and (2) prison officials "actually knew of but deliberately disregarded" that need. Jackson v. Buckman, 756 F.3d 1060, 1065 (8th Cir. 2014). A medical need is sufficiently serious if it has been diagnosed by a physician as requiring treatment, unless it is so obvious that even a layperson would easily recognize the need for medical attention. Ryan v. Armstrong, 850 F.3d 419, 425 (8th Cir. 2017) (citations omitted).

         Deliberate indifference is an extremely high standard that requires a mental state "akin to criminal recklessness." Jackson, 756 F.3d at 1065 (quoting Scott v. Benson, 742 F.3d 335, 340 (8th Cir. 2014)). Thus, Plaintiff must show "more than negligence, more even than gross negligence." Fourte v. Faulkner Cty., Ark., 746 F.3d 384, 387 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Jolly v. Knudsen, 205 F.3d 1094, 1096 (8th Cir. 2000)). He must demonstrate that Defendants' actions were "so inappropriate as to evidence intentional maltreatment or a refusal to provide essential care." Dulany v. Carnahan, 132 F.3d 1234, 1240-41 (8th Cir. 1997). Moreover, when a claim of deliberate indifference is based on a delay in treatment, a plaintiff "must place verifying medical evidence in the record to establish the detrimental effect of delay in medical treatment to succeed." Crowley v. Hedgepeth, 109 F.3d 500, 502 (8th Cir. 1997); Robinson v. Hager, 292 F.3d 560, 564 (8th Cir. 2002).

         As a preliminary matter, Plaintiff has admitted he is not asserting any claim against Barton for failure to provide him with proper medical care at the Jail. (SOF at ¶ 66; Deposition of Dennis Laramore, Doc. No. 61-1 at 141:11-17). The Court will, therefore, grant Defendants' motion as it relates to Plaintiffs claim against Barton for deliberate indifference to medical needs.

         In his amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges he suffers from several medical conditions, including an unspecified heart condition, COPD, and other respiratory conditions, for which he was receiving regular treatment, and that upon his arrival at the Jail, Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs by failing to provide him with his heart medication for thirty days and his other medications for sixty days. In his deposition, Plaintiff also claimed that he required a daily aspirin and a special diet, and needed to be examined by a cardiologist.

         There is no record evidence showing Plaintiff was diagnosed with any of the medical conditions he claims to have. During the relevant period, a family nurse practitioner was assigned to work at the Jail pursuant to a contract between Washington County, Missouri and Washington County Memorial Hospital to provide medical services at the Jail. Although the nurse practitioner provided medical care to Plaintiff, she was unable to confirm his alleged medical conditions within a reasonable degree of medical certainty because she had not received Plaintiffs medical records from his providers by the time he was transferred out of the Jail. In any event, the Court need not reach this issue. Even assuming, without deciding, that Plaintiff had objectively serious medical needs, he has failed to allege facts sufficient to show that Thompson and Snow knew of Plaintiff s medical needs and deliberately disregarded them.

         The undisputed facts show that Thompson and Snow were unaware that Plaintiff had any medical conditions requiring treatment and that they did not instruct or direct anyone on the nature and extent of the medical care, including medications, that should be or was provided to Plaintiff. As Captain of the Washington County Sheriffs Office, Thompson had supervisory authority over the Office's Road Division, which provides general law enforcement services within the County, and the Jail Division, which administers the Jail. Captain Thompson did not personally administer or manage the daily operations of the Jail and was not responsible for addressing and responding to written grievances and medical request forms submitted by inmates. Deputy Snow was primarily assigned to work at the Washington County Courthouse as a bailiff, and occasionally assigned to provide assistance at the Jail. Neither Thompson nor Snow reviewed any of the written grievances or medical request forms allegedly submitted by Plaintiff. Snow transported Plaintiff from the Washington County Memorial Hospital back to the Jail; however, without something more, this does not establish that Snow actually knew Plaintiff had any serious medical conditions requiring care. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837 (a prison official cannot be found liable ...

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