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Jacoby v. Peasant

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

July 9, 2018

BRENT JACOBY, #291 560, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. PEASANT, Defendant.

          RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          GRAY M. BORDEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Brent Jacoby, a state inmate incarcerated at the Kilby Correctional Facility in Mt. Meigs, Alabama, brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against Dr. John Peasant. [1]Jacoby alleges that Dr. Peasant violated his Eighth Amendment rights by failing to provide him with adequate medical care in June and July 2015 for a painful and itchy skin condition during a previous period of incarceration at Ventress Correctional Facility (“Ventress”). Jacoby seeks damages and requests trial by jury. Doc. 1.

         Dr. Peasant filed a special report. Doc. 18. The court entered an order which provided Jacoby an opportunity to file a response to Dr. Peasant's special report. Doc. 19. This order advised Jacoby that his response should be supported by affidavits or statements made under penalty of perjury and other evidentiary materials. Doc. 19 at 3. This order further cautioned Jacoby that unless “sufficient legal cause” is shown within ten days of entry of this order “why such action should not be undertaken, the court may at any time [after expiration of the time for his filing a response to this order] and without further notice to the parties (1) treat the special report[s] and any supporting evidentiary materials as a [dispositive] motion . . . and (2) after considering any response as allowed by this order, rule on the motion in accordance with law.” Doc. 19 at 3-4. Jacoby responded to Dr. Peasant's report, see Doc. 22, but his response does not demonstrate that there is any genuine dispute of material fact.

         I. 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] 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); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a) (“The 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.”). 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 indicating there is no dispute of material fact or by showing the non-moving party has failed to present evidence to support some element on which it bears the ultimate burden of proof. Id. at 322-24.

         The defendant has met his evidentiary burden. Thus, the burden shifts to Jacoby 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; Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(3); Jeffery v. Sarasota White Sox, Inc., 64 F.3d 590, 593-594 (11th Cir. 1995) (holding that, once the moving party meets its burden, “the non-moving party must then go beyond the pleadings, and by its own affidavits [or sworn statements], or by depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, ” demonstrate there is a genuine dispute of material fact) (internal quotations omitted). This court will also consider “specific facts” pled in a plaintiff's sworn complaint when considering his opposition to summary judgment. Caldwell v. Warden, FCI Talladega, 748 F.3d 1090, 1098 (11th Cir. 2014). A genuine dispute of material fact exists when the non-moving party produces evidence that would allow a reasonable factfinder to return a verdict in its favor. Greenberg, 498 F.3d at 1263; Allen v. Bd. of Public Educ., 495 F.3d 1306, 1313 (11th Cir. 2007).

         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 by sufficient evidence a genuine dispute of material fact. See Beard v. Banks, 548 U.S. 521, 525 (2006); Brown v. Crawford, 906 F.2d 667, 670 (11th Cir. 1990). Jacoby's pro se status alone does not compel this court to disregard elementary principles of production and proof in a civil case.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Eighth Amendment Claim Against Defendant in His Official Capacity

         Jacoby does not indicate the capacity in which he sues Dr. Peasant. To the extent he is sued in his official capacity, the law is settled that official capacity lawsuits are “in all respects other than name, . . . treated as a suit against the entity.” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985).

         State officials may not be sued in their official capacity unless the state has waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity or unless Congress has abrogated the state's immunity, and neither has occurred in this case. See Lancaster v. Monroe Cnty., 116 F.3d 1419, 1429 (11th Cir. 1997) (citing Seminole Tribe v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 59 (1996) (discussing abrogation by Congress); Pennhurst St. School & Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984) (discussing Eleventh Amendment immunity); Carr v. City of Florence, 916 F.2d 1521, 1525 (11th Cir. 1990) (establishing that the State of Alabama has not waived Eleventh Amendment immunity). In light of the foregoing, Dr. Peasant is a state actor entitled to sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment for Jacoby's Eighth Amendment claims seeking monetary damages from him in his official capacity. The claim for money damages brought against Dr. Peasant in his official capacity is, therefore, due to be dismissed.

         B. Eighth Amendment Claim Against Defendant in His Individual Capacity[2]

         Jacoby alleges that he contracted herpes around age 12 or 13 and has reoccurring bouts of herpes outbreaks due to stress and anxiety triggered by the prison environment. While housed in B-1 segregation dorm in June and July 2015, Jacoby experienced constant “pop ups” of herpes sores around his buttocks, thighs, pelvic, and genital area that would not go away. He submitted sick call requests to Dr. Peasant, who refused to prescribe medication that would suppress the herpes outbreaks and alleviate the associated painful burning and itching blisters. Because Dr. Peasant did not believe Jacoby had herpes, Jacoby alleges the physician was unsure how to treat his condition. Despite providing Dr. Peasant with past medical records documenting prescriptions Jacoby had been given to treat his herpes outbreaks, Jacoby complains that Dr. Peasant still refused to provide treatment on several occasions due to a belief that Jacoby's condition was due to scabies, not herpes. Even when test results confirmed that Jacoby had herpes, Jacoby states that Dr. Peasant still failed to provide treatment. Dr. Peasant's conduct, Jacoby claims, caused him to suffer for days and weeks at a time with painful, embarrassing, itching blisters on his penis, genital area, buttocks, pelvic area, and thighs without being provided any treatment to help suppress the outbreaks. Even after Jacoby reminded Dr. Peasant that Dr. Peasant previously had treated him for herpes, the physician told Jacoby he would not treat him for herpes or order him any medications. Doc. 9.

         Dr. Peasant is the Medical Director at Ventress, a position he has held since 2006. Dr. Peasant is familiar with Jacoby having examined him and treated him during his incarceration at Ventress regarding his medical needs and concerns. The evidentiary materials filed by Dr. Peasant address the allegations made by Jacoby. A thorough review of these documents and records demonstrate that the affidavit submitted by Dr. Peasant describing the treatment provided to ...


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