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Varnado v. Norris

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

February 6, 2015

HYMEL VARNADO, (#333068),
v.
KENNETH NORRIS, ET AL

MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT

STEPHEN C. RIEDLINGER, Magistrate Judge.

Before the court are the defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment. Record document numbers 74 and 81, respectively.

For the reasons which follow, the defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment should be granted in part and the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment should be denied.

Background

Pro se plaintiff, an inmate at Louisiana State Penitentiary ("LSP"), Angola, Louisiana, filed a Complaint Under the Civil Rights Act ("Complaint") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 against Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections Secretary James LeBlanc, LSP Warden N. Burl Cain, Asst. Wardens Kenneth Norris and Stephanie Lamartiniere, Dr. Jason Collins and Dr. Ramon Singh. Plaintiff alleged that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights.

Defendants moved for summary judgment relying on a statement of undisputed facts, the affidavits of Warden Cain, Asst. Warden Norris, Asst. Warden Lamartiniere, Dr. Collins and Dr. Singh, copies of the plaintiff's medical records and copies of Administrative Remedy Procedure ("ARP") LSP-2013-0119.

Plaintiff moved for summary judgment[1] relying on a statement of undisputed facts, the affidavits of inmate Wayne Fritz, Gertie Varnado, Juan Matthews, Edward Giovanni, and Michael Zihlavsky, copies of a letter from inmate Michael Zihlavsky to Warden Cain dated February 21, 2012, Offender Posted Policy #006, an excerpt of Department Regulation No. B-06-001, Department of Public Safety and Corrections Services Health Care Manual including Health Care Policy Nos. HC-01, HC-02, HC-03, HC-05, HC-11, HC-13, HC-14, HC-15, HC-16, HC-19, HC-20, HC-26, HC-31, HC-32 and, HC-33, portions of the LSP Correctional Officer Training Program and the training transcripts of Warden Cain, Asst. Warden Lamartiniere, Asst. Warden Norris and Dr. Collins, the plaintiff's mental health and medical records, a list of hernia surgeries needed as of May 21, 2012, position descriptions and the results of ARP LSP-2013-0119.

I. Factual Allegations

Plaintiff alleged that on September 30, 2009, he sought medical treatment for complaints of lower abdominal pain. Plaintiff alleged that on August 21, 2011, he sought medical treatment after a small lump in his abdomen. Plaintiff alleged that on November 11, 2011, he sent a letter to Medical Director Dr. Jonathan Roundtree requesting a medical duty status to limit his work requirements due to the protruding lump in his abdomen. Plaintiff alleged that he received no response.

Plaintiff alleged that on February 22, 2012, he experienced a "pop" in his abdomen while lifting a property locker box, he then began to experience pain and swelling in his abdomen. Plaintiff alleged that he was examined by Dr. Toce who diagnosed an indirect inguinal hernia. Plaintiff alleged that he was prescribed medication, a medical duty status and was referred to the surgery clinic.

Plaintiff alleged that since February 2012 he has made numerous sick call requests seeking medical treatment for his abdominal pain. Plaintiff alleged that on May 29, 2012, he sought sick call for complaints of a lump protruding from his abdomen which caused a burning sensation which radiated to his testicles and difficulty having a bowel movement.

Plaintiff alleged that in June 2012 he and several other inmates with hernias were summoned to a meeting at the R.E. Barrow, Jr. Treatment Center where prison officials, including Asst. Warden Norris and Dr. Collins, informed them that the Louisiana State University ("LSU") Surgery Clinic was responsible for performing necessary surgeries and, due to budgetary constraints, surgeries would not be performed unless the condition became life-threatening.

Plaintiff alleged that he filed an administrative grievance regarding the failure to provide necessary hernia surgery, and that prison officials responded to his administrative grievance advising him that the LSU Surgery Clinic is responsible for providing the necessary surgical hernia repair.

Plaintiff alleged that for more than two years after he was first diagnosed with an inguinal hernia he sent correspondence to prison officials complaining about his medical condition and the physical hardship the delay in providing the necessary surgery was causing him. Plaintiff alleged that he also informed medical personnel and prison officials about his abdominal and testicular pain, difficulty with bowel movements, mental health concerns and the general interference with his daily activities resulting from the failure to provide the necessary surgery to repair his hernia.

Plaintiff alleged he was told he required surgery but due to a lack of funding, the surgery would not be performed. Plaintiff alleged that he was told only inmates with life-threatening conditions would be scheduled for surgery.

Plaintiff alleged that the defendants ignored his complaints of severe pain and denied him adequate medical treatment, and that the defendants adopted a policy of providing only minimal care to prisoners based upon cost.

II. Applicable Law and Analysis

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "[A] party seeking summary judgment... bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (1986). The burden then shifts to "the nonmoving party to go beyond the pleadings and by her own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, ' designate specific facts showing that there is genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 324; see Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). "If a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact... as required by Rule 56(c), the court may []... grant summary judgment if the motion and support materials - including the facts considered undisputed show that the movant is entitled to it." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(3). "Credibility determinations, the ...


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