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Vallier v. Millwee

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

March 5, 2018

DOMINQUE VALLIER
v.
PAULA MILLWEE, ET AL.

         Section P

          ELIZABETH E. FOOTE JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          KAREN L. HAYES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the undersigned magistrate judge, on reference from the District Court, is a motion for summary judgment [doc. # 34] filed by defendants, LaShonia Ferguson and Paula Millwee, seeking dismissal of Plaintiff's claims. For reasons set forth below, it is recommended that the motion be GRANTED.

         Background

         On October 13, 2016, Plaintiff, Dominque Vallier, filed his complaint [doc. #1] seeking relief under 28 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking damages for denial of medical treatment and negligence. On December 27, 2017, Defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment [doc. #34]. Defendants assert that the complaint fails to state a constitutional violation and Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. Plaintiff filed his opposition [doc. #36]. The matter is ripe.

         Standard of Review

         Summary judgment is appropriate when the evidence before the court shows “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the lawsuit under applicable law in the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is such that a reasonable fact finder could render a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

         “[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of ‘the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, ' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247). “The moving party may meet its burden to demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact by pointing out that the record contains no support for the non-moving party's claim.” Stahl v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., 283 F.3d 254, 263 (5th Cir. 2002). Thereafter, if the non-movant is unable to identify anything in the record to support its claim, summary judgment is appropriate. Id.

         In evaluating the evidence tendered by the parties, the court must accept the evidence of the non-movant as credible and draw all justifiable inferences in its favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. While courts will “resolve factual controversies in favor of the non-moving party, ” an actual controversy exists only “when both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory facts.” Little v. Liquid Air. Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (en banc). There can be no genuine dispute as to a material fact when a party fails “to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-323. The non-moving party may not rely merely on the allegations and conclusions contained within the pleadings; rather, the non-movant “must go beyond the pleadings and designate specific facts in the record showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Wallace v. Texas Tech Univ., 80 F.3d 1042, 1047 (5th Cir. 1996). The non-movant does not satisfy his burden merely by demonstrating some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, by setting forth conclusory allegations and unsubstantiated assertions, or by presenting but a scintilla of evidence. Little, 37 F.3d at 1075 (citations omitted).

         Moreover, “summary judgment is appropriate in any case ‘where critical evidence is so weak or tenuous on an essential fact that it could not support a judgment in favor of the nonmovant.'” Little, supra (citation omitted) (emphasis in original). In sum, “[a]fter the non-movant has been given the opportunity to raise a genuine factual issue, if no reasonable juror could find for the non-movant, summary judgment will be granted.” Mississippi River Basin Alliance v. Westphal, 230 F.3d 170, 174 (5th Cir. 2000) (citation omitted).

         Relevant Facts[1]

         1. Plaintiff was an inmate sentenced to the custody of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (“LDPSC”) and was confined at David Wade Correctional Center (“DWCC”) at all times relevant to the instant litigation. See Statement of Undisputed Facts, doc. #34-2, p. 1. ¶ 1; Response to State of Facts, doc. #36-18, p. 1, ¶ 1.

         2. Defendants, LeShonia Ferguson and Paula Millwee, were LDPSC employees during this time. See Statement of Undisputed Facts, doc. #34-2, p. 1. ¶¶ 2 & 3; Response to Statement of Undisputed Facts, doc. #36-18, p. 1, ¶¶ 2 & 3. Nurse Millwee was the Director of Nursing at DWCC during this time. See Deposition of Paula Millwee, doc. #36-9, p. 13, lines 1-11.[2]

         3. Between December 2015 and April 2016, Plaintiff submitted sick call requests on Health Care Request Forms for medical attention, complaining of back and knee pain, and blurred vision associated with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (“JRA”). See Statement of Undisputed Facts, doc. #34-2, p. 1. ¶ 3[3]; Response to Statement of Undisputed Facts, doc. #36-18, p. 1, ¶ 4.

         4. Plaintiff submitted an Administrative Remedy Procedure ("ARP") alleging constitutional rights violations while confined at DWCC. See Statement of Undisputed Facts, doc. #34-2, p. 1. ¶ 4; Response to Statement of Undisputed Facts, doc. #36-18, p. 1, ¶ 5.

         5. While the instant lawsuit was pending, Plaintiff was transferred to the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, Louisiana. See Statement of Undisputed Facts, doc. #34-2, p. 1. ¶ 5; Response to Statement of Undisputed Facts, doc. #36-18, pp. 1-2, ¶ 6.

         6. Plaintiff was first diagnosed with JRA in 2006 at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. See Deposition of Plaintiff, doc. #36-7, p. 3, lines 7-14; Plaintiff's Medical Records, doc. #36-15, p. 1.

         7. Prior to Plaintiff's being incarcerated, his JRA was treated with prednisone and folic acid methotrexate. See Deposition of Plaintiff, doc. #36-7, p. 17, lines 2-4.

         8. Plaintiff was incarcerated at Allen Correctional Center (“ACC”) from 2011 until he was transferred to DWCC on November 25, 2015. See Deposition of Plaintiff, doc. #36-7, p. 2, lines 20-22.

         9. Plaintiff's JRA was treated with naproxen while he was incarcerated at ACC and Plaintiff never experienced JRA-related complications during that time. See ...


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