United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Russ Walker United States Magistrate Judge
Jessie Ray Hickman (“Plaintiff”), a
former inmate of the Alabama Department of
Corrections, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983, claiming violations of his federal rights while he was
an inmate at the Elba Community Based Facility/Work Center
(“Elba”) in Elba, Alabama. Doc. 1. Plaintiff
names as defendants Sharon McSwain-Holland, the warden at
Elba; and Chequita Walker, the Chief Steward at Elba
(collectively “Defendants”). Plaintiff seeks only
damages. Id. at 6.
accordance with the court's orders, Defendants filed an
answer, special report, and supporting evidentiary material
in response to the allegations contained in the complaint.
Docs. 5, 19, 20. The court informed Plaintiff the
defendants' special report may, at any time, be treated
as a motion for summary judgment. Doc. 21. The court
explained the proper manner in which to respond to a motion
for summary judgment, including the fact that Plaintiff's
response should be supported by affidavits or statements made
under penalty of perjury and/or appropriate other evidentiary
materials. Id. at 2-3. Plaintiff responded. Doc. 24.
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1) and M.D. Ala. LR 73.1, the
parties consented to a United States Magistrate Judge's
conducting all proceedings in this case and ordering the
entry of final judgment. Doc. 16. This case is now pending
before the court on Defendants' motion for summary
judgment. Upon consideration of the motion, Plaintiff's
response, and the evidentiary materials filed in support of
and in opposition to the motion, the court concludes that
Defendants' motion for summary judgment is due to be
STANDARD OF REVIEW
court shall grant summary judgment 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). “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 [dispute] 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 to former Fed.R.Civ.P. 56
omitted; “issue” altered to “dispute”
to reflect the stylistic change in the current rule). 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) (alterations
added). The movant may meet this burden by presenting
evidence 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 its case on which it
bears the ultimate burden of proof. Id. at 322-24.
have met their evidentiary burden. Thus, the burden shifts to
Plaintiff to establish, with appropriate evidence beyond the
pleadings, that a genuine dispute material to the case
exists. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(e)(3) (“If a party fails to properly support an
assertion of fact or fails to properly address another
party's assertion of fact [by citing to materials in the
record including affidavits, relevant documents or other
materials], the court may … grant summary judgment if
the motion and supporting materials-including the facts
considered undisputed-show that the movant is entitled to it
… .”); see also Caldwell v. Warden, FCI
Talladega, 748 F.3d 1090, 1098 (11th Cir. 2014) (court
considers facts pled in a plaintiff's sworn complaint
when considering his opposition to summary judgment”).
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. The evidence must be
admissible at trial, and if the nonmoving party's
evidence “is merely colorable … or is not
significantly probative … summary judgment may be
granted.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). “A mere
‘scintilla' of evidence supporting the opposing
party's position will not suffice … .”
Walker v. Darby, 911 F.2d 1573, 1577 (11th Cir.
1990) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252). Conclusory
allegations based on subjective beliefs are likewise
insufficient to create a genuine dispute of material fact.
Holifield v. Reno, 115 F.3d 1555, 1564 n.6 (11th
Cir. 1997) (per curiam) (plaintiff's “conclusory
assertions …, in the absence of [admissible]
supporting evidence, are insufficient to withstand summary
judgment”). Only disputes involving material facts are
relevant, and what is material is determined by the
substantive law applicable to the case. Anderson,
477 U.S. at 248. 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. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).
evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all
justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. Although factual
inferences must be viewed in a light most favorable to the
nonmoving party and pro se complaints are entitled to liberal
interpretation by the court, a pro se litigant does not
escape the burden of sufficiently establishing a genuine
dispute of material fact. Brown v. Crawford, 906
F.2d 667, 670 (11th Cir. 1990). Thus, a plaintiff's pro
se status alone does not mandate this court's disregard
of elementary principles of production and proof in a civil
case. In this case, Plaintiff fails to demonstrate a genuine
dispute of material fact so as to preclude summary judgment
on his claims against Defendants. See Matsushita,
475 U.S. at 587.
SUMMARY OF MATERIAL FACTS
court views the facts in the light most favorable to
Plaintiff. Defendant McSwain-Holland acknowledges that
Plaintiff “experienced numerous medical emergencies
while housed at Elba … .” Doc. 20-1 at 2. Those
reflected in the record began in 2013. On April 25, 2013,
Plaintiff felt dizzy and passed out while working in the
laundry room at Elba. Doc. 20-1 at 9-10. About a week later,
on May 2, 2013, Plaintiff again had symptoms of a seizure
while working in the laundry; he was shaking, vomiting, and
foaming at the mouth. Id. at 11-13. McSwain-Holland
was notified. Id. Plaintiff was taken to the
hospital for treatment and returned to Elba. Id. at
12-21; Doc. 20-2 at 1. On June 21, 2013, Plaintiff had a
seizure in the yard. Id. at 20-2, at 2-3.
McSwain-Holland was notified. Id. A little over a
month later, on July 30, 2013, Plaintiff had a possible
seizure in the yard; he was found slumped over and shaking
with his eyes closed. Id. at 6-7. Again,
McSwain-Holland was notified. Id. Medical staff
treated the Plaintiff. Id. at 8.
months later, in December 2013, Plaintiff began working in
the kitchen. Doc. 24 at 2. On February 23, 2014, Plaintiff
“passed out on the facility Back
Yard.” Doc. 20-2 at 9-10. According to his body
chart, when Plaintiff was found he was non-responsive, but he
“soon became alert and talkative.” Id.
at 11. He had a 11/2 cm cut inside his bottom lip and a small
abrasion on his outer lower lip. Id. McSwain-Holland
was notified. Id. at 9-10. Medical staff treated
Plaintiff for a possible seizure. Id. at 11.
March 25, 2014, while Plaintiff was working in the kitchen,
Walker wrote Plaintiff a disciplinary report for refusing her
order to wash dishes at about 1:45 p.m. Id. at
14-16. According to the incident report, Plaintiff entered
Walker's office and said, “I am not going to wash
those dishes.” Id. at 14. A sergeant
questioned Walker, and Walker said, “I was helping
unload the canteen truck; she should have got someone else to
wash the dishes instead of waiting on me.” Id.
at 14. At a disciplinary hearing on April 2, 2014, Plaintiff
admitted he was guilty of failing to obey a direct order; he
admitted the statement but said, “I don't recall
saying it to Ms. Walker. I did say it when I was in the
dorm.” Doc. 20-3 at 3. On April 3, 2014,
McSwain-Holland approved the discipline imposed for the rule
violation. Id. at 4.
morning of April 3, 2014, Plaintiff was reported in the yard
“looking confused and glassy eyed.” Doc. 20-2 at
12. He said, “I just got a little hot. I don't need
anything but a little rest.” Id. He refused
medical treatment, although he had symptoms of
light-headedness, glassy eyes, dizziness, and overheating.
Id. at 12-13. ...