United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division
CHARLES W. WRIGHT, JR.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
MAGISTRATE JUDGE KAY
D. CAIN, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the
defendant, the United States ("government"). Doc.
69. This motion relates to the suit brought by plaintiff,
Charles William Wright, Jr., against the United States under
the Federal Tort Claims Act. Plaintiff is proceeding pro se
in forma pauperis in this matter. The motion is unopposed.
is an inmate in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons
("BOP") and is incarcerated at the Federal
Correctional Institute in Oakdale, Louisiana
("FCIO"). He states that he suffered serious injury
on January 29, 2014, when he slipped on an icy pavement at
FICO while waiting for his medication at the "pill
line." Doc. 1, p. 2. Plaintiff also complains of his
medical care following the fall. Id. at 3-5.
Specifically, he alleges that no medical care was provided to
him for the week following his fall. Id. at 3. He
states that one night that week, a tendon broke loose in his
injured arm, causing a "popeye" mass that put him
in excruciating pain. Id.
show that plaintiff was seen at FCIO Health Services on
February 11, 2014, for a complaint of shoulder pain relating
to his fall. Doc. 41, att. 6. At that examination the medical
officer observed the mass on plaintiffs arm and ordered an
X-ray. Id.; See doc. 41, att. 7. The officer
diagnosed plaintiff with a ruptured tendon and requested an
orthopedic consult, which was approved the following day.
Doc. 41, atts. 6 & 8. Plaintiff visited Health Services
complaining of arm pain on February 26, April 14, and June
17, 2014, and was prescribed pain medication, issued an arm
sling, and given a bottom bunk pass. Doc. 41, att. 9, pp.
4-5, 6-7, 8-9. His orthopedic consult occurred on July 18,
2014, and he was diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear and bicep
rupture. Doc. 41, att. 10, pp. 3-5. The orthopedist
recommended an MRI of the shoulder and noted that the bicep
did not require surgery. Id. Plaintiff was given a
steroid injection and ordered to continue his pain medication
and to wear his sling as needed for his comfort. Id.
was not performed until April 1, 2015. See doc. 41, att. 11.
Based on that imaging, the orthopedist determined that
plaintiff should undergo a rotator cuff arthroscopy and
entered an order for that procedure on May 1, 2015, with a
target date of August 5, 2015. Doc. 41, att. 3. The procedure
was performed on August 22, 2016. Doc. 41, att. 5, pp. 3-5.
While awaiting surgery, plaintiff exhausted his remedies with
the BOP. Doc. 1, att. 2. He then instituted this action on
November 23, 2015, under the Federal Tort Claims Act
("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2671 et seq.,
claiming negligence by the government in the maintenance of
FCIO premises and in his medical care. Doc. 1. On January 4,
2016, he amended the title of his complaint to read:
"Complaint by Prisoner Under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 or
Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau
of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971)." Doc. 5.
government filed a motion to dismiss relating to the premises
maintenance claim, which this court granted. See
doc. 37; doc. 53 (judgment adopting report and
recommendation). As to plaintiffs medical care claim, both
parties sought summary judgment. Docs. 32, 41. The government
argued plaintiff would be unable to prove the essential
elements of a medical malpractice claim because he had not
designated an expert witness. Doc. 41. Plaintiff argued that
the government had provided inadequate responses to the
complaint and discovery therefore there was no genuine issue
as to any material fact. Doc. 32. The magistrate judge
assessed plaintiffs claim under the relevant standards
governing Louisiana medical malpractice claims and agreed
with the government that plaintiffs allegations did not rise
to the level where she could infer negligence without an
expert. Doc. 54. Accordingly, she recommended that plaintiffs
medical care claim be dismissed with prejudice. Id.
The district court rejected the recommendation and denied
both motions for summary judgment. Doc. 56. It suggested the
suit was more appropriately assessed as civil rights claim
for violation of plaintiff s Eighth Amendment rights, rather
than as a medical malpractice claim. Id. at 3.
18, 2019, the government filed the instant motion for summary
judgment. Doc. 69. It maintains that plaintiffs claim is
properly assessed as a medical malpractice claim but argues
that, under any standard, plaintiff received appropriate
medical treatment. See doc. 69, att. 1, p. 17. In
support of its motion it provides the expert opinion of Dr.
Shawn Granger, an orthopedic surgeon. Doc. 69, atts. 3-4. Dr.
Granger reviewed plaintiff s medical records and found the
treatment received by plaintiff in this case to be
"appropriate and reasonable." Doc. 69, att. 4, p.
6. The motion is unopposed.
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 (5 th Cir. 1995). The court must
deny the motion for summary judgment if the movant fails to
meet this burden. Id.
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.,477 U.S. 242, 248
(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). "If the evidence is merely colorable, or ...