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Spillman v. Russell

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

July 30, 2019





         Before the undersigned Magistrate Judge, on reference from the District Court, is a motion for summary judgment filed by defendants Sheriff Jay Russell, Warden Pat Johnson, and Nurse Donna Norman (“Defendants”). [doc. # 39]. The motion is opposed. For reasons set forth below, it is recommended that the motion be GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.


         Plaintiff Steven Spillman, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, is a former pretrial detainee at the Ouachita Correctional Center (“OCC”) in Louisiana. He filed the instant suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by failing to provide him adequate medical care. [docs. # 1, 9]. Specifically, he alleges that prior to his incarceration at OCC, he re-ruptured the quadriceps tendon in his left leg on which he previously had surgery. He claims the medical staff at OCC was aware of his condition but Defendants delayed or failed to treat him, denied him medication, refused to send him to a specialist, and took away his leg brace [doc. # 9]. Plaintiff seeks damages for mental and physical pain, an order instructing OCC to change its medical policies, and to be sent to a hospital for surgery.[1]

         On April 18, 2019, Defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgement pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. [doc. # 39]. Defendants claim Plaintiff's suit fails because

Plaintiff has failed to show that he (1) had a serious medical need of which these Defendants had actual knowledge and to which these Defendants were deliberately indifferent, and (2) that the deliberate indifference was pursuant to the official policy of the Sheriff's office such that the policy caused Plaintiff's alleged harm.

[doc. # 39-1 at 1]. On May 8, 2019, Plaintiff filed a response, claiming summary judgment should be denied because a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether Defendants provided proper medical care. [doc. # 46]. Defendants did not file a reply.

         On June 20, 2019, the Court granted in part Plaintiff's March 22, 2019 motion to compel discovery [doc. # 30] and ordered Defendants to produce OCC's policies concerning medical care and sick call procedures, finding the policies “necessary to resolving Defendants' motion as it relates to Plaintiff's” municipal liability claim. [doc. # 47]. The Court also granted Plaintiff leave to file a supplement to his opposition, and permitted Defendants to file a reply. Plaintiff filed a supplemental opposition. [doc. # 50]. Defendants did not file a reply.

         Standard of Law

         Summary judgment is appropriate “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.” 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 the 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.

         The 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 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 “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). If the nonmoving party is then unable to point to anything in the record to support its claim, summary judgment is appropriate. Id.

         When considering the evidence in a motion for summary judgment, the court construes “all facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Dillon v. Rogers, 596 F.3d 260, 266 (5th Cir. 2010). The court will resolve factual disputes in favor of the nonmoving party, “but only when there is an actual controversy, that is, when both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory facts.” Alvarez v. City of Brownsville, 904 F.3d 382, 389 (5th Cir. 2018). Rule 56 mandates the entry of summary judgment if the nonmoving 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. In such a situation, there is “no ...

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