United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
WALLACE CAPEL, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
U.S.C. § 1983 action is before the court on an amended
complaint filed by Jeffrey Scott Clegg, a former state
inmate. In this complaint, Clegg alleges Dr. Bradford, an
optometrist contracted to provide services to state inmates,
violated his constitutional rights by failing to timely
provide him a new pair of prescription eyeglasses during a
prior term of incarceration at the Bullock Correctional
Facility. Doc. 5 at 7-8. Clegg alleges the defendant deprived
him of due process and equal protection with respect to
provision of his eyeglasses. Despite the assertion of a due
process violation, the claim presented by Clegg regarding the
alleged denial of adequate optometry services arises under
the Eighth Amendment and its protection against deliberate
indifference to an inmate's health, not the Due Process
Clause. Clegg seeks a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief
and monetary damages for the alleged violations of his
constitutional rights. Doc. 5 at 9, Doc. 33 at 1 & Doc.
49 at 1.
defendant filed a special report, supplemental special report
and relevant evidentiary materials in support of his reports,
including affidavits and certified copies of Clegg's
medical records, addressing the claims raised in the
complaint. In these documents, Dr. Bradford denies he acted
with deliberate indifference to Clegg's medical needs and
argues Clegg fails to allege a cognizable equal protection
reviewing the special reports filed by the defendant, the
court issued an order on August 23, 2016 directing Clegg to
file a response to each of the arguments set forth by the
defendant in his reports, supported by affidavits or
statements made under penalty of perjury and other
evidentiary materials. Doc. 22 at 1-2. The order specifically
cautioned that “unless within fifteen (15) days
from the date of this order a party . . . presents sufficient
legal cause why such action should not be undertaken
. . . the court may at any time [after expiration of the time
for the plaintiff filing a response to this order] and
without further notice to the parties (1)
treat the special reports and any supporting evidentiary
materials as a motion for summary judgment and (2) after
considering any response as allowed by this order, rule on
the motion for summary judgment in accordance with the
law.” Doc. 22 at 3. Clegg filed responses to this
order, including sworn declarations.
to the directives of the order entered on August 23, 2016,
the court now treats the defendant's reports as a motion
for summary judgment and concludes that summary judgment is
due to be granted in favor of the defendant.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
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); Rule 56(a), Fed.R.Civ.P.
(“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 issue [dispute]
of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Beard v. Banks, 548 U.S.
521, 529 (2006) (holding that a court “must examine the
record to see whether the [party moving for summary
judgment], in depositions, answers to interrogatories,
admissions, affidavits and the like, has demonstrated the
absence of a genuine [dispute] of material fact, and his
entitlement to judgment as a matter of law.”) (internal
citations and quotation marks omitted); Jeffery v.
Sarasota White Sox, Inc., 64 F.3d 590, 593 (11th Cir.
1995) (holding that moving party has initial burden of
showing there is no genuine dispute of material fact for
trial). 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
appropriate evidence in support of some element of its case
on which it bears the ultimate burden of proof.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-24; Moton v.
Cowart, 631 F.3d 1337, 1341 (11th Cir. 2011) (holding
that moving party discharges his burden by showing that the
record lacks evidence to support the nonmoving party's
case or that the nonmoving party would be unable to prove his
case at trial).
the moving party meets its evidentiary burden, the burden
shifts to the plaintiff to establish, with appropriate
evidence beyond the pleadings, that a genuine dispute
material to his case exists. At this juncture, the court
“must determine whether [the plaintiff], who bears the
burden of persuasion has by affidavits or as otherwise
provided in Rule 56 . . . set forth specific facts showing
that there is a genuine [dispute of material fact] for
trial.” Beard, 521 U.S. at 529 (internal
citations and quotation marks omitted); Jeffery, 64
F.3d at 593-94 (holding that, once a moving party meets its
burden, “the non-moving party must then go beyond the
pleadings, and by its own affidavits [or statements made
under penalty of perjury], or by depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, ” demonstrate
that there is a genuine dispute of material fact.). 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 a party produces
evidence that would allow a reasonable fact-finder to return
a verdict in its favor such that summary judgment is not
warranted. Greenberg, 498 F.3d at 1263; Allen v.
Bd. of Pub. Educ. for Bibb Cnty., 495 F.3d 1306, 1313
(11th Cir. 2007). “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).
“[T]here must exist a conflict in substantial evidence
to pose a jury question.” Hall v. Sunjoy Indus.
Group, Inc., 764 F.Supp.2d 1297, 1301 (M.D. Fla. 2011).
[This court] recognize[s] that at this stage [it] must draw
“all justifiable inferences in [the plaintiff's]
“favor.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202
(1986). In doing so, however, we 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
authorities. Overton [v. Bazetta, 539 U.S. 126, 132
(2003)]. 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, 548 U.S. at 530.
factual inferences must be viewed in a light most favorable
to the plaintiff and pro se complaints are entitled
to liberal interpretation, a pro se litigant does not escape
the burden of establishing by sufficient evidence a genuine
dispute of material fact. See Beard, 548 U.S. at
525; McKeithen v. Jackson, 606 Fed.Appx. 937, 938
(11th Cir. 2015); Ivory v. Warden, 600 Fed.Appx.
670, 675 (2015). Thus, Clegg's pro se status alone does
not compel this court to disregard elementary principles of
production and proof in a civil case.
court has undertaken a thorough and exhaustive review of all
the evidence contained in the record, including Clegg's
medical records. After this review, the court finds that
Clegg has failed to demonstrate a genuine dispute of material
fact in order to preclude entry of summary judgment in favor
of the defendant on his claims regarding alleged violations
of his constitutional rights.
claims presently before this court address actions taken by
Dr. Bradford in an effort to fit Clegg for eyeglasses from
October 19, 2015 until mid-April of 2016. Specifically, Clegg
alleges Dr. Bradford acted with deliberate indifference to
his need for new eyeglasses because Dr. Bradford did not
initially determine the correct prescription for his
eyeglasses and then failed to timely order eyeglasses in
accordance with a prescription issued by an outside
ophthalmologist. Doc. 5 at 7-8. Dr. Bradford denies Clegg
suffered a serious medical need - a need which, if left
untreated, posed a substantial risk of serious harm - or that
he acted with deliberate indifference to Clegg's eye
care. Doc. 21 at 11-14. It is likewise undisputed that
throughout the time relevant to the complaint Clegg
maintained a pair of eyeglasses within his possession which
adequately corrected his vision.
prevail on a claim concerning an alleged denial of medical
treatment, an inmate must-at a minimum-show that the
defendant acted with deliberate indifference to a serious
medical need. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976);
Taylor v. Adams, 221 F.3d 1254 (11th Cir. 2000);
McElligott v. Foley, 182 F.3d 1248 (11th Cir. 1999);
Waldrop v. Evans, 871 F.2d 1030, 1033 (11th Cir.
1989). Medical personnel may not subject an inmate to
“acts or omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence
deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.”
Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106; Adams v. Poag, 61
F.3d 1537, 1546 (11th Cir. 1995) (holding, as directed by
Estelle, that a plaintiff must establish “not
merely the knowledge of a condition, but the knowledge of
necessary treatment coupled with a refusal to treat or a
delay in [the acknowledged necessary] treatment.”).
That medical malpractice-negligence by a physician-is
insufficient to form the basis of a claim for deliberate
indifference is well settled. See Estelle v. Gamble,429 U.S. 97, 105-07, 97 S.Ct. 285, 292, 50 L.Ed.2d 251
(1976); Adams v. Poag,61 F.3d 1537, 1543 (11th Cir.
1995). Instead, something more must be shown. Evidence must
support a conclusion that a prison [medical care
provider's] harmful acts were intentional or reckless.
See Farmer v. Brennan,511 U.S. 825, 833-38, 114
S.Ct. 1970, 1977-79, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994); Cottrell v.
Caldwell,85 F.3d 1480, 1491 (11th Cir. 1996) (stating
that deliberate indifference is equivalent of recklessly
disregarding substantial risk of serious harm to inmate);
Adams, 61 F.3d at 1543 (stating that plaintiff must
show more than mere negligence to assert an Eighth Amendment
violation); Hill v. DeKalb Regional Youth Detention
Ctr.,40 F.3d 1176, 1191 n. 28 (11th Cir. 1994)
(recognizing that Supreme Court has defined “deliberate
indifference” as requiring more than mere negligence
and has adopted a “subjective recklessness”
standard from ...