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Price v. White

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division

May 22, 2014

MARK A. PRICE, Plaintiff,
v.
RANDY WHITE, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

THOMAS B. RUSSELL, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon Plaintiff Mark A. Price's Motion for Reinstatement for a Dismissed Claim, (Docket No. 41), and Defendants Randy White, Hobert Huddleston, and Mitchell McLeod's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Docket No. 43). Defendants have not responded to Plaintiff's Motion, and Plaintiff has not responded to Defendants' Motion. The time for both responses now has passed, and these matters are ripe for adjudication. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion will be DENIED, Defendants' Motion will be GRANTED, and summary judgment will be entered in Defendants' favor.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a convicted felon in the custody of the Kentucky Department of Corrections (KDOC). When this action was filed, Plaintiff was inmate at the Kentucky State Penitentiary (KSP). KSP policy requires that inmates in the disciplinary segregation unit keep their hair within a defined length. Plaintiff objected to having his hair cut because of his practice of the Jewish religion. Plaintiff submitted a grievance over the policy, which prison authorities denied. Plaintiff then brought this action, claiming that the refusal to exempt him from KSP's grooming standards violated his First Amendment right of free exercise of religion. Plaintiff presently is incarcerated at the Kentucky State Reformatory (KSR).

On initial review, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims relating to medical treatment but allowed Plaintiff to proceed on his individual-capacity claim for monetary damages and on his claims for injunctive relief under the First Amendment and under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000cc-1a. (Docket No. 8.) Plaintiff's remaining claims all are based on Plaintiff's allegations that Defendants have violated his First Amendment rights to freely exercise his religion by forcing him to cut his hair in contravention of his religious beliefs.

DISCUSSION

The Court will first address Plaintiff's Motion for Reinstatement of a Dismissed Claim, (Docket No. 41), before turning to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, (Docket No. 43).

I. Plaintiff's Motion for Reinstatement of a Dismissed Claim (Docket No. 41)

Plaintiff moves the Court to reinstate his Eighth Amendment medical-treatment claim relative to Defendant Randy White and dismissed defendants Dr. Steve Hiland, the physician at KSP; Dr. Doug Crall, the KDOC Medical Director; and Bob Wilkerson, a nurse at KSP. The Court construes this Motion as a motion for reconsideration of the Court's prior Order on initial review. (Docket No. 8.) As noted above, Defendants have not tendered a response to this Motion, and their Motion for Summary Judgment, discussed infra Part II, does not address the claim Plaintiff moves to reinstate. In spite of the absence of Defendant's opposition, the Court finds Plaintiff's Motion without merit.

Although the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not provide expressly for "motions for reconsideration, " courts generally construe such motions as motions to alter or amend a judgment under Rule 59(e). E.g., Moody v. Pepsi-Cola Metro. Bottling Co., 915 F.2d 201, 206 (6th Cir. 1990); Taylor v. Colo. State Univ., 2013 WL 1563233, at *8-9 (W.D. Ky. Apr. 12, 2013). The Sixth Circuit instructs that a motion for reconsideration should only be granted on four grounds: "Under Rule 59, a court may alter or amend a judgment based on: (1) a clear error of law; (2) newly discovered evidence; (3) an intervening change in controlling law; or (4) a need to prevent manifest injustice.'" Leisure Caviar, LLC v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv., 616 F.3d 612, 615 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting Intera Corp. v. Henderson, 428 F.3d 605, 620 (6th Cir. 2005)). Furthermore, because there is an interest in the finality of a decision, this Court and other district courts have held that "[s]uch motions are extraordinary and sparingly granted." Marshall v. Johnson, 2007 WL 1175046, at *2 (W.D. Ky. Apr. 19, 2007) (citing Plaskon Elec. Materials, Inc. v. Allied-Signal, Inc., 904 F.Supp. 644, 669 (N.D. Ohio 1995)); accord Rottmund v. Cont'l Assurance Co., 813 F.Supp. 1104, 1107 (E.D. Pa. 1992).

In its prior Order on initial review, the Court summarized Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim as follows:

Plaintiff's first claim involves the alleged failure to treat his broken hand. He alleges that on February 15, 2013, he arrived at KSP with a broken right hand and informed KSP medical staff of that fact. He states that he "signed up to see Dr. Hiland but was ignored by KSP medical." He states that he again signed up on March 12th, at which point Nurse Wilkerson told him that KSP medical was aware of his injury and that Dr. Hiland was not going to see him. He alleges that Nurse Wilkerson told him to lie down, his hand will heal. He states that he then wrote a letter to Dr. Hiland pleading for treatment for his hand, but Dr. Hiland ignored him.
According to the complaint, Plaintiff again requested medical assistance and Nurse Wilkerson came to see him and advised him that Dr. Hiland knew of his situation and was not going to treat him. Nurse Wilkerson told Plaintiff his hand would heal on its own. When Plaintiff told him his hand hurt, Nurse Wilkerson told him the pain would probably stop when it was totally healed. He states that on March 15, a nurse gave him an order for a mild pain pill. He states that he wrote to Warden White and appealed his grievance to Medical Director Crall. Plaintiff asserts that all Defendants were aware of yet neglected their responsibility in treating him or getting him treated. He alleges that his hand is healing "deformed."

(Docket No. 8, at 1-2.)

Generally, "[w]here prison officials are so deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of prisoners as to unnecessarily and wantonly inflict pain, they impose cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eight Amendment." Horn v. Madison Cnty. Fiscal Court, 22 F.3d 653, 660 (6th Cir. 1994) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976)). Thus, to establish an Eighth Amendment violation premised on inadequate medical care, a prisoner must demonstrate that the defendant acted, or failed to act, with "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 835 (1994) (quoting Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104); Terrance v. Northville Reg'l Psychiatric Hosp., 286 F.3d 834, 843 (6th Cir. 2002). In the Sixth Circuit, the test for "deliberate indifference" has both an objective and subjective component. Napier v. Madison Cnty., Ky., 238 F.3d 739, 742 (6th Cir. 2001). To satisfy the objective component, the inmate must show that the alleged deprivation is "sufficiently serious"- i.e., "that he is incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm." Id. (quoting Brown v. Bargery, 207 F.3d 863, 867 (6th Cir. 2000)). And to satisfy the subjective component, he must show that prison officials had a "sufficiently culpable state of mind." Id .; see also Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. More precisely, an inmate must show that "the official [knew] of and disregard[ed] ...


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