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Brister v. Police Jury of Parish

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

May 13, 2019

RAY D. BRISTER D.O.C. # 383050

         SECTION P



         Before the court are Motions for Summary Judgment [docs. 40, 44] filed by the Police Jury of Jefferson Davis Parish (“Police Jury”) and the individual defendants named in this matter, respectively. Both motions relate to the pro se complaint and amendments thereto filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by Ray D. Brister. Brister has not responded to either motion and his time for doing so has passed. Accordingly, both motions are regarded as unopposed. They have been referred to the undersigned for review, report, and recommendation in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636.

         I. Background

         Brister alleges that he received inadequate medical care while on pretrial detention at the Jefferson Davis Parish Jail (“JDPJ”) in Jennings, Louisiana, resulting in a violation of his constitutional rights under the Eighth Amendment. Doc. 5. Specifically, he asserts that he began complaining of testicular pain and swelling in January 2017, while housed at Concordia Parish Correctional Facility (“CPCF”). Doc. 5, p. 3. He was seen by doctors and placed on different medications, which did not work. Id. Eventually, the doctor at CPCF said that he needed surgery and sent him to a hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana. Id. at 3, 5. Brister underwent an ultrasound there and was told by two physicians that he needed surgery. Id. at 5. He returned to the hospital on May 5, 2017, to see a urologist, who also recommended surgery and scheduled him for another appointment in November 2017. Id.

         On May 27, Brister was transferred back to JDPJ because of safety concerns at CPCF. Id. The next day he saw the facility nurse at JDPJ and was then sent to a physician, who also said that he needed to surgery to address his testicular issues. Id. The physician prescribed medication, which Brister again claims did not work. Id. When Brister returned to the jail, he told the warden that he needed surgery but was told that the parish would not pay for the operation. Id. After Brister filed a grievance in August 2017, the warden sent him to a local hospital, where an ultrasound revealed a new cyst on his testicle and fluid in the sac. Id. The doctor prescribed medication for swelling and infection, but Brister complains that the medication only resulted in some alleviation and that his symptoms returned once it was discontinued a few days later. Id. at 5-6. Still, he asserts, the warden refused to approve the surgery and asserted that the Police Jury would not cover the expense because it cost too much and related to a preexisting condition. Id.; doc. 12, p. 1. He also asserts that he was returned to CPCJ in September 2017, after filing grievances relating to his health care, even though defendants knew his life was in danger there. Doc. 5, p. 6.

         Brister filed suit in this court on September 6, 2017, asserting that the above allegations amount to constitutional violations and that he is entitled to monetary damages. Docs. 1, 5, 12. As defendants he names the Police Jury, Deputy Sheriff Chris Ivy, Sheriff Ivy Woods, and Warden Locke, as well as other parties subsequently dismissed from the suit. Specifically, he alleges that the Police Jury/Warden Locke are liable for refusing him medical attention and that the Police Jury is well aware “that this is not a pre-existing condition[;] that this happened on their watch.”[1] Doc. 5; doc. 14, atts. 2-3. He also asserts that Warden Locke is liable for “going against his word and shipping me back to [CPCF]” despite knowing that Brister's life was in danger there. Doc. 14, att. 2. Finally, he asserts that Sheriff Ivy Woods is liable for returning him to CPCF and that Deputy Sheriff Chris Ivy is liable for refusing him appropriate medical attention. Doc. 14; doc. 14, att. 1.

         The Police Jury and individual defendants have now filed motions for summary judgment, asserting that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on all of Brister's claims. Docs. 40, 44. Brister was granted an extension of time to respond to both motions but has failed to do so. See doc. 52. Accordingly, the motions are regarded as unopposed.

         II. Legal Standards

         A court should grant a motion for summary judgment when 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The party moving for summary judgment is initially responsible for identifying portions of pleadings and discovery that show the lack of a genuine issue of material fact. Tubacex, Inc. v. M/V Risan, 45 F.3d 951, 954 (5th Cir. 1995). The court must deny the motion for summary judgment if the movant fails to meet this burden. Id.

         If the movant makes this showing, however, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to “set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511 (1986) (quotations omitted). This requires more than mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleadings. Instead, the nonmovant must submit “significant probative evidence” in support of his claim. State Farm Life Ins. Co. v. Gutterman, 896 F.2d 116, 118 (5th Cir. 1990). Neither conclusory allegations nor unsubstantiated assertions will satisfy the movant's burden. Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994 (en banc). “If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted.” Anderson, 106 S.Ct. at 2511 (citations omitted).

         A court may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence in ruling on a motion for summary judgment. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 120 S.Ct. 2097, 2110 (2000). The court is also required to view all evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Clift v. Clift, 210 F.3d 268, 270 (5th Cir. 2000). Under this standard, a genuine issue of material fact exists if a reasonable trier of fact could render a verdict for the nonmoving party. Brumfield v. Hollins, 551 F.3d 322, 326 (5th Cir. 2008).

         III. Application

         A. ...

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