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Stanfield v. Darbouze

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

June 19, 2017

BILLY WAYNE STANFIELD, #1767004, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. DARBOUZE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          CHARLES S. COODY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         In this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action, inmate plaintiff Billy Wayne Stanfield (“Stanfield”), complains that the defendants violated his rights secured by the Eighth Amendment when they were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs by failing to treat his skin cancer. Stanfield names as defendants Dr. Jean Darbouze, Medical Director at Easterling Correctional Facility, Dr. Hugh Hood, Associate Regional Medical Director, and Corrections Medical Services, Inc.[1] Stanfield seeks compensatory and punitive damages. The court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1) and M.D. Ala. LR 73.1, the parties have consented to the United States Magistrate Judge conducting all proceedings in this case and ordering the entry of final judgment.

         Pursuant to the orders of this court, the defendants filed a written special report, as supplemented, and supporting evidentiary materials addressing the plaintiff's claims. In accordance with the order entered on September 2, 2014 (doc. # 4), the court now deems it appropriate to treat the defendants' special report as supplemented as a motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff was provided an opportunity to respond to the motion as supplemented and has done so. Upon consideration of the motion, pleadings, responses and evidentiary material filed in support of and in opposition to the motion, the court concludes that the motion for summary judgment is due to be granted.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         “Summary judgment is appropriate ‘if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show there is no genuine [dispute][2] as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'” Greenberg v. BellSouth Telecomm., Inc., 498 F.3d 1258, 1263 (11th Cir. 2007) (per curiam) (citation omitted); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) (Summary judgment “should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine [dispute] as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”). The party moving for summary judgment “always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the [record, including pleadings, discovery materials and affidavits], which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine [dispute] of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The movant may meet this burden by presenting evidence which would be admissible at trial indicating there is no dispute of material fact or by showing that the nonmoving party has failed to present evidence in support of some element of his case on which he bears the ultimate burden of proof. Id. at 322-324.

         Once the defendants meet their evidentiary burden and demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to establish, with appropriate evidence beyond the pleadings, that a genuine dispute material to his case exists. Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. A genuine dispute of material fact exists when the nonmoving party produces evidence that would allow a reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict in its favor. Greenberg, 498 F.3d at 1263.

In civil actions filed by inmates, federal courts
must distinguish between evidence of disputed facts and disputed matters of professional judgment. In respect to the latter, our inferences must accord deference to the views of prison [medical personnel]. Unless a prisoner can point to sufficient evidence regarding such issues of judgment to allow him to prevail on the merits, he cannot prevail at the summary judgment stage.

Beard v. Banks, 548 U.S. 521, 530 (2006) (internal citation omitted). Consequently, to survive the defendants' properly supported motion for summary judgment, Stanfield is required to produce “sufficient [favorable] evidence” which would be admissible at trial supporting his claims of constitutional violations. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). “If the evidence [on which the nonmoving party relies] is merely colorable . . . or is not significantly probative . . . summary judgment may be granted.” Id. at 249-250. “A mere ‘scintilla' of evidence supporting the opposing party's position will not suffice; there must be enough of a showing that the [trier of fact] could reasonably find for that party.” Walker v. Darby, 911 F.2d 1573, 1576-1577 (11th Cir. 1990) quoting Anderson, supra. Hence, when a plaintiff fails to set forth specific facts supported by appropriate evidence sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to his case and on which he will bear the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment is due to be granted in favor of the moving party. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322 (“[F]ailure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.”); Barnes v. Southwest Forest Indus., Inc., 814 F.2d 607, 609 (11th Cir. 1987) (if on any part of the prima facie case the plaintiff presents insufficient evidence to require submission of the case to the trier of fact, granting of summary judgment is appropriate).

         For summary judgment purposes, only disputes involving material facts are relevant. United States v. One Piece of Real Prop. Located at 5800 SW 74th Ave., Miami, Fla., 363 F.3d 1099, 1101 (11th Cir. 2004). What is material is determined by the substantive law applicable to the case. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Lofton v. Sec'y of Dep't of Children & Family Servs., 358 F.3d 804, 809 (11th Cir. 2004) (“Only factual disputes that are material under the substantive law governing the case will preclude entry of summary judgment.”). “The mere existence of some factual dispute will not defeat summary judgment unless that factual dispute is material to an issue affecting the outcome of the case.” McCormick v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 333 F.3d 1234, 1243 (11th Cir. 2003) (citation omitted). To demonstrate a genuine dispute of material fact, the party opposing summary judgment “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. . . . Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no ‘genuine [dispute] for trial.'” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co, Ltd., v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

         Although factual inferences must be viewed in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, and pro se complaints are entitled to liberal interpretation by the courts, a pro se litigant does not escape the burden of establishing a genuine dispute of material fact. Beard, 548 U.S. at 525; Brown v. Crawford, 906 F.2d 667, 670 (11th Cir. 1990). Thus, the plaintiff's pro se status alone does not mandate this court's disregard of elementary principles of production and proof in a civil case.

         III. FACTS[3]

         Stanfield was incarcerated at the Easterling Correctional Facility when he first complained to the medical staff of a skin condition. On January, 2, 2013, Stanfield completed a health services request form indicating that he was having skin problems when he shaved. (Doc. # 11-3, Ex. A at 9). Stanfield was seen by a nurse and referred to the doctor. (Id.) On January 7, 2013, Stanfield refused a medical appointment. (Id. at 14). On January 14, 2013, Stanfield did not appear for his scheduled appointment with the doctor. (Id. at 15).

         On March 11, 2013, Stanfield complained that he was still experiencing “spots” on his face that were burning and itching. (Id. at 16). He did not, however, show up for sick call on March 12, 2013. (Id. at 17).

         On April 18, 2013, Stanfield completed another health service request form complaining that the rash on his face burned. (Id. at 21). The nurse noted the rash and that Stanfield had previously been treated with an antifungal cream. (Id. at 22). He was given Tolnaftate cream. (Id. at 23). On April 26, 2013, Stanfield completed a health service request form requesting treatment for the rash. (Id. at 24). However, he also refused to attend sick call. (Id. at 25).

         On May 10, 2013, Stanfield submitted a health service request form in which he indicated that the rash on his face was not getting any better; that another spot under his right eye had developed; and he had red bumps on his face. (Id. at 26). Although the antifungal cream helped with the itching, the rash was still present and Stanfield asked to see a doctor. (Id.).

         On May 20, 2013, Dr. Darbouze examined Stanfield and requested an appointment with a free world dermatologist be made for him. (Id. at 29). A consultative appointment with Dr. Thomas Taylor was scheduled that day for June 26, 2013. (Id. at 30). On June 8, 2013, Stanfield submitted a health service request form complaining about the rash on his face because it ...


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