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Robinson v. Sheriff's Office

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division

March 2, 2018


          TRIMBLE JUDGE.



         Before the Court are: (1) a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 51), filed by pro se Plaintiff James Allen Robinson (“Robinson”); and (2) a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 54), filed by Defendant, Sergeant Ronald Goudeau (“Goudeau”). Robinson's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 51) should be denied because he failed to present any evidence to meet his burden of proof under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Further, because there is no genuine issue of material fact whether Goudeau was deliberately indifferent to Robinson's serious medical needs, Goudeau's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 54) should be granted.

         I. Background

         Robinson filed a civil rights complaint (42 U.S.C. § 1983), in forma pauperis. Robinson is an inmate in the custody of the Louisiana Department of Corrections (“DOC”), incarcerated at David Wade Correctional Center (“DWCC”) in Homer, Louisiana. Robinson named Defendants Sheriff William Hilton (“Hilton”), Warden Antoine Batiste (“Batiste”), Lieutenant J.D. Aaron (“Aaron”), Goudeau, and Deputies Charles Gates, Lyndell Hall, Martravius Doresey (“Dorsey”), Darnitha Hudson, Cassandra Carmouche, Medical Assistant Cristy Lnu (“Lnu”), and NORTEC, LLC (“Nortec”) (collectively “Defendants”). (Doc. 1). Robinson claims Defendants failed to protect him from another inmate and failed to provide timely medical care while Robinson was incarcerated at the Rapides Parish Detention Center (“RPDC”). (Doc. 1). Robinson also alleges Defendants violated state tort law.

         Robinson was attacked by other inmates at RPDC. (Doc. 1). Robinson alleges the attack took place on July 14, 2015. (Docs. 1, 9). Robinson was transported to the hospital for x-rays, and was diagnosed with a fractured thumb and contusions to the chest and head. (Doc. 1). Robinson's thumb was placed in a splint or cast, and he was prescribed pain medication. (Doc. 1).

         Robinson claims that, on July 24, 2015, a search for contraband was conducted in Robinson's dorm. (Docs. 1, 9). Robinson alleges Goudeau ordered the removal of the cast during the search. (Docs. 1, 9). Robinson alleges he had to be transported back to the hospital to have the cast replaced. (Doc. 1).

         Robinson's vicarious liability and official capacity claims as to all Defendants have been denied and dismissed. (Doc. 19). Robinson's § 1983 claims against Defendants Lnu, Nortec, Aaron, Hilton, and Batiste have been denied and dismissed. (Doc. 19). All claims against Goudeau have been denied and dismissed, except for Robinson's Eighth Amendment claim for the removal of his cast on July 26, 2015, and his related negligence claim. (Doc. 19). The remaining claims are Robinson's state tort claims, and Robinson's remaining § 1983 claims against Goudeau.[1] (Doc. 10). Goudeau answered the Complaint and Amended Complaint, asserting various affirmative defenses. (Doc. 27).

         II. Law and Analysis

         A. Standards governing Motion for Summary Judgment.

         Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a court must grant summary judgment “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Paragraph (e) of Rule 56 also provides the following:

If a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court may:
(1) give an opportunity to properly support or address the fact;
(2) consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion;
(3) grant summary judgment if the motion and supporting materials--including the facts considered undisputed--show that the movant is entitled to it; or
(4) issue any other appropriate order.[2]

         Substantive law determines what facts are “material.” A material fact issue exists if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. However, the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of plaintiff's position will be insufficient to preclude summary judgment; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff. Stewart v. Murphy, 174 F.3d 530, 533 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 528 U.S. 906 (1999) (internal citations omitted). “A genuine dispute of material fact exists ‘if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'” Hefren v. McDermott, Inc., 820 F.3d 767, 771 (5th Cir. 2016) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).

         In deciding a motion for summary judgment, a court must construe all facts and draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Dillon v. Rogers, 596 F.3d 260, 266 (5th Cir. 2010). If the movant produces evidence tending to show that there is no genuine issue of material fact, the nonmovant must then offer evidence sufficient to establish a genuine issue of material fact. Herrera v. Millsap, 862 F.2d 1157, 115 (5th Cir. 1989). However, mere conclusory allegations are not competent summary judgment evidence, and such allegations are insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Topalian v. Ehrman, 954 F.2d 1125, 1131 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 825 (1992).

         Additionally, where a defendant asserts qualified immunity at the summary judgment stage, “the burden shifts to the Plaintiff to raise facts that dispute the defendant's assertion of qualified immunity.” Estate of Pollard v. Hood Cnty., Tex, 579 Fed.Appx. 260, 264 (5th Cir. 2014) (per curiam). The court must still view all facts and make all reasonable inferences in light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id. But “plaintiff must produce evidence that presents a genuine issue of material fact that (1) the defendants' conduct amounts to a violation of the plaintiff's constitutional right; and (2) the defendants' actions were ‘objectively unreasonable in light of clearly established law at the time of the conduct in question.” Id. (quoting Cantrell v. City of Murphy, 666 F.3d 911, 922 (5th Cir. 2012). cert. denied, 133 S.Ct. 119 (2012). If the plaintiff fails, the motion for summary judgment should be granted. Estate of Pollard, 579 Fed.Appx. at 264.

         B. Qualified Immunity

         Qualified immunity provides government officials performing discretionary functions with a shield against civil damages liability, so long as their actions could reasonably have been thought consistent with the rights they are alleged to have violated. Gobert v. Caldwell, 463 F.3d 339, 345 (5th Cir. 2006) (citing Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 638 (1987)). In determining whether an official enjoys qualified immunity, the Court must determine: (1) whether the plaintiff has demonstrated a violation of a clearly established federal constitutional or statutory right; and (2) whether the official's actions violated that right to the extent that an objectively reasonable person would have known. Id. (citing Hope v. Pelzer, 536 U.S. 730 (2002)).

         C. Deliberate Indifference

         The Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, provides that “[e]very person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any . . . person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or ...

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