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Zain v. Advance Health Care Provider

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

August 6, 2013

REVEL ZAIN, Plaintiff,
v.
ADVANCE HEALTH CARE PROVIDER et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOSEPH H. McKINLEY, Jr., Chief District Judge.

Before the Court is the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant Advanced Correctional Healthcare, Inc.[1] (DN 26). For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be granted.

I. SUMMARY OF CLAIMS

On initial review of this pro se, in forma pauperis complaint, the Court allowed Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim regarding failure to provide medical care and state-law claims to go forward against Defendant ACH.

In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that, as a state inmate housed at Hopkins County Jail ("HCJ"), he was attacked by three other inmates on November 17, 2011. He alleged that, after he pushed an emergency button, guards took him to the ACH nurses' station, where he told "Nurse Connie and Sgt. Stephens" that he had internal bleeding, cuts to his arms and knees, a fractured left middle finger, and needed to go to the hospital emergency room. Plaintiff alleged that they did nothing for his injuries and simply put him in isolation where he continued to be in pain and spit out blood.

Plaintiff alleged that he complained repeatedly to the guards about his injuries and was told that he needed to fill out a sick-call slip before he could see a doctor for treatment. He stated he submitted a sick-call slip and was taken to see Nurse Connie where he again requested emergency medical treatment for his fractured left finger and internal bleeding. He alleged that he was told there was nothing they could do for him and that he kept being told by ACH nurses that, without seeing a doctor, there was nothing they would do for him other than wrap his finger with tape. He alleged that it is the practice of Defendant ACH to charge inmates $20 for a doctor visit even though they only get to see a nurse and nurse assistant. He also alleged that, after he filed a grievance, he was told that his finger would heal normally with no treatment and that he could order pain medication from the commissary, which, he alleged, they knew he could not due to poverty.

II. ANALYSIS

Summary judgment standard

Summary judgment is proper "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). The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

The moving party's burden may be discharged by demonstrating that there is an absence of evidence to support an essential element of the nonmoving party's case for which he or she has the burden of proof. Id. Once the moving party demonstrates this lack of evidence, the burden passes to the nonmoving party to establish, after an adequate opportunity for discovery, the existence of a disputed factual element essential to his case with respect to which he bears the burden of proof. Id. If the record taken as a whole could not lead the trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, the motion for summary judgment should be granted. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).

Where the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof at trial, "a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The nonmoving party must do more than raise some doubt as to the existence of a fact; the nonmoving party must produce evidence that would be sufficient to require submission of the issue to the jury. Lucas v. Leaseway Multi Transp. Serv., Inc., 738 F.Supp. 214, 217 (E.D. Mich. 1990). The moving party, therefore, is "entitled to a judgment as a matter of law because the nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of [his] case with respect to which [he] has the burden of proof." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).

Eighth Amendment claim

Defendant ACH argues that it cannot be held responsible for the actions of its employees unless the alleged actions were performed in compliance with ACH policy or custom. Further, Defendant ACH argues that Plaintiff's rights were not violated. Defendant ACH argues that Plaintiff's allegedly broken finger does not rise to the level of a serious medical condition. Defendant ACH asserts that the nurse examined the finger, and implemented a course of treatment based on her observations, including stabilizing the finger and providing pain medication. Thus, Defendant ACH argues Plaintiff has not shown the objective component of an Eighth Amendment claim. Defendant ACH also argues that Plaintiff has not shown the subjective component of an Eighth Amendment claim because it was not until two days after the fight that Plaintiff submitted a sick-call request form due to his finger. At that point, the nurse secured the swollen and tender finger to another finger with tape and prescribed Tylenol 500 mg twice daily for three days. Ten days later, Plaintiff again submitted a sick-call request form stating that he had a fractured finger. He received an order for Tylenol to treat the finger pain but refused the medication and thereafter made no more complaints about his allegedly fractured finger.

Attached to Defendant ACH's motion are documents in support. First, there are Medical Progress Notes regarding Plaintiff containing entries on November 17, 19, and 30, 2011, March 2, 2012, and March 3, 2012. Those Progress Notes shows that on November 17, 2011, Plaintiff was brought to medical after the fight with scratches on his face and knees and bruising and swelling of his right shoulder. Another Progress Note dated November 19, 2011, records that Plaintiff believed his finger was broken during the fight. The Progress Note noted that the middle finger of the left hand was swollen and tender to the touch but no deformity was noted. The finger was taped and secured and Tylenol was prescribed. A Progress Note also notes that Plaintiff received an order for Tylenol for finger pain on November 30, 2011, but he refused the medication. The next entries on the Progress Note are in March 2012 and do not contain any complaints of finger pain. Also attached is a ...


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