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Charles Mccraney v. Angie Pleasant

March 13, 2013



This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [DN 42]. Fully briefed, it is ripe for decision. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is GRANTED.


Plaintiff is an insulin-dependent brittle diabetic whose blood sugar levels often fluctuate. On July 6, 2011, he became an inmate at the Hopkins County Jail. The jail's medical staff soon began a regimen of finger-stick blood sugar ("FSBS") checks on Plaintiff at least twice daily. They also provided him insulin twice daily due to his diabetes. Beginning December 20, 2011, Plaintiff was placed in medical isolation due to fluctuating blood sugar readings. Defendant Charles Townsend, a doctor, ordered that Plaintiff stay in medical isolation for thirty days without edible commissary. Plaintiff was initially lodged in a "seg pod," which is a pod containing six single cells. Later, he was put in a single observation cell, which Plaintiff refers to as the "hole."*fn1 During his medical isolation, FSBS checks and the administration of insulin continued. (See Blood Sugar Log Sheet [DN 42-2].)

Medical records reveal that while Plaintiff was in medical isolation, he was seen by the jail's medical staff several times for issues related to his diabetes. For example, on December 21, 2011,

Defendant Lila Cavanah, a nurse, examined Plaintiff after he began complaining of high blood sugar and vomiting. Cavanah believed that Plaintiff may have a gastrointestinal virus and recommended that he increase his water intake. (Sick Call Request Form & Med. Progress Note Dated Dec. 21, 2011 [DN 42-8].) The next day, on December 22, 2011, Cavanah examined Plaintiff for complaints of increasing blood sugar. After the examination, she administered four units of "R" insulin to lower it. She also advised Plaintiff to slow down his breathing and increase his water consumption. (Sick Call Request Form & Med. Progress Note Dated Dec. 22, 2011 [DN 42-9].) Later that evening, Cavanah again examined Plaintiff for complaints of nausea and other bodily pain. She administered six additional units of "R" insulin. She also advised Plaintiff to slow down his breathing, increase his activity and water consumption, and decrease the intake of foods that he was not supposed to eat. (Sick Call Request Form & Med. Progress Note Dated Dec. 22, 2011 [DN 42-10].)

On March 8, 2012, Plaintiff filed this suit against nurses Angie Pleasant, Lila Cavanah, Jodi Blake, and "Michael." Plaintiff also sued Dr. Charles Townsend in a separate action. These actions were consolidated. All of Plaintiff's claims arise from allegations of denial of treatment (or improper treatment) for his diabetic condition while he was in the Hopkins County Jail. Specifically, Plaintiff asserts that despite being charged for treatment, "never once did the Doctor or Nurses help." He then asks: "If they was trying to help me, why didn't they draw blood or change insulin or give me some pills to help bring it down . . . ." (Compl. [DN 1] 5.) Plaintiff also asserts that often, he would request additional blood sugar checks when he felt like his blood sugar was high, but the nurses refused to check his sugar. (Charles McCraney Dep. [DN 43-2] 46--47.) On June 6, 2012, the Court entered a Memorandum Opinion dismissing Michael as a defendant and limiting Plaintiff's claims against Pleasant, Cavanah, Blake, and Townsend to those "relating to not receiving medical attention for his diabetes while in the 'hole'. . . ." (Mem. Op. [DN 9] 7.) On January 9, 2013, Defendants filed a summary judgment motion. Plaintiff did not respond. The Court now considers the motion.


Before the Court may grant a motion for summary judgment, it must find that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of specifying the basis for its motion and identifying that portion of the record that demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once the moving party satisfies this burden, the non-moving party thereafter must produce specific facts demonstrating a genuine issue of fact for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247--48 (1986).

Although the Court must review the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, the non-moving party must do more than merely show that there is some "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Instead, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require the non-moving party to present specific facts showing that a genuine factual issue exists by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record" or by "showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence . . . of a genuine dispute[.]" Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1). "The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-moving party's] position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party]." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.


In their summary judgment motion, Defendants argue that Plaintiff was properly treated for his medical needs not only while he was in medical isolation, but also during his entire incarceration at the Hopkins County Jail. According to Defendants, the Court should grant summary judgment in their favor because they were not deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's diabetic condition and because Plaintiff's constitutional rights were not violated. For the following reasons, the Court agrees.

The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects prisoners from cruel and unusual punishment, including the denial of medical care and the receipt of inadequate medical care. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). An Eighth Amendment claim consists of both objective and subjective components. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). The objective component requires that the medical need be "sufficiently serious." Id. (quoting Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991)). This component is contextually driven and responds to "contemporary standards of decency." Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 8 (1992). The subjective component requires that the defendant's conduct be deliberately indifferent to the plaintiff's needs. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. As the Sixth Circuit has noted, deliberate indifference is "characterized by obduracy or wantonness-it cannot be predicated on negligence, inadvertence, or good faith error." Reilly v. Vadlamudi, 680 F.3d 617, 624 (6th Cir. 2012). Thus, to claim an Eighth Amendment violation based on inadequate medical care, a prisoner must demonstrate that the defendant acted or failed to act with "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs." Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835 (quoting Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104).

In the present case, Defendants concede that Plaintiff's diabetic condition is a "sufficiently serious" medical need, as required for the first step of the constitutional analysis. (See Defs.' Mem. of Law in Support of Mot. for Summ. J. [DN 42-1] 7.) But Defendants argue that summary judgment is nonetheless proper since Plaintiff cannot meet the test's subjective component. The Court agrees.

It has long been held that not every claim of inadequate medical treatment establishes an Eighth Amendment violation. Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105. Notably, a difference of opinion between the inmate and the prison's medical officials concerning treatment does not constitute a constitutional violation. Id. at 107--08. Courts distinguish between cases in which there is a complete denial of medical care and those where the claim is one of inadequate medical care. See Westlake v. Lucas, 537 F.2d 857, 860 n.5 (6th Cir. 1976). "Where a prisoner has received some medical attention and the dispute is over the adequacy of ...

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