United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
KAREN K. CALDWELL, Chief District Judge.
Plaintiff Allen Meador, II, proceeding without counsel, has filed a motion [R. 37] pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) to alter or amend the summary judgment entered on March 12, 2014, in favor of the defendant, Michael Growse, M.D. Meador contends that when the Court granted Dr. Growse's motion for summary judgment, it improperly considered Dr. Growse's Declaration [R. 33], which Dr. Growse's counsel filed under seal on March 7, 2014, pursuant to a "Notice of Clarification of Sealed Document" [R. 32]. Through his counsel, Dr. Growse has filed a response [R. 38] to Meador's Rule 59(e) motion. For the reasons set forth below, Meador's motion to alter or amend the summary judgment in favor of Dr. Growse lacks merit and will be denied.
In April 2012, Meador filed this civil rights action, alleging that he suffered from chronic pain related to a pancreatic condition which was diagnosed in 2005, and that Dr. Growse's decision to change his pain management regimen in 2011 amounted to deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs and violated his right to right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, guaranteed by the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Meador sought substantial monetary damages from Dr. Growse for the pain and suffering which he alleges that he endured between March 3, 2011, and September 16, 2011.
On April 8, 2013, Dr. Growse filed, through his counsel, a motion "Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment" [R. 22], to which to which he attached a 16-page Memorandum of Law [R. 22-1] in support of his motion. On that same date, Dr. Growse's counsel filed, under seal, 209 pages of Meador's medical records. [R. 24] In his Memorandum of Law, Dr. Growse argued that Meador had failed to state a claim of deliberate indifference; that any changes made to Meador's medication regimen were warranted because of Meador's misconduct in hoarding medication in violation of prison rules; that at all times, Meador had received all medications and other forms of necessary medical treatment as to his pancreatic condition; that he was entitled to qualified immunity as to Meador's Eighth Amendment claims; and that he was entitled to summary judgment.
Dr. Growse's Memorandum of Law contained repeated references to his Declaration, cited to specific paragraphs of that Declaration, and summarized Meador's medical condition, events relating to Meador's medical condition, and the medical treatment which Meador had received at FMC-Lexington between March 2009 and July 2012. See R. 22-1, pp. 1-5; p. 8. It appears, however, that although Dr. Growse referred to his Declaration throughout his Memorandum of Law, the Declaration itself was not actually filed on April 8, 2013, as an attachment to the motion to dismiss/summary judgment and Memorandum of Law. The Declaration was filed in the record, under seal, on March 7, 2014. See R. 33. In her "Notice of Clarification, " Dr. Growse's counsel explained that the Declaration may have been inadvertently omitted from the record. See R. 32, p. 1.
On July 2, 2013, Meador filed a 14-page Response [R. 29] to Dr. Growse's motions. Meador also filed a 3-page document entitled "Declaration of Allen Meador, II, in Support of Mental Anguish as a Rusult [sic] of Having his Medication Delayed." [R. 29-1] In neither his response nor his own declaration did Meador mention, or refer to, or object to the fact that Dr. Growse's actual Declaration had not been filed in the record on April 8, 2013. Instead, Meador acted as if that document had been filed in the record on April 8, 2013, because in his Response, Meador identified and cited numerous paragraphs of Dr. Growse's "Declaration, " as if the Declaration had actually been filed in the record. See Meador Response [R. 29, pp. 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, (referring either to "Growse Decl." or "Id."]
Further, on January 24, 2014, the Clerk of the Court received a letter from Meador, in which he requested a copy of the docket sheet. [R. 31] On that same date, the Clerk of the Court mailed a copy of the docket sheet to Meador. See docket notation to R. 31. At no time between January 24, 2014, and March 7, 2014, did Meador file a letter or pleading objecting to (or for that matter, even noting) the fact that Dr. Growse's actual Declaration was missing from his April 8, 2013, motion to dismiss/summary judgment.
As noted, on March 7, 2014, Dr. Growse's counsel filed Dr. Growse's actual Declaration in the record under seal, explaining that the Declaration may have been inadvertently omitted from the record when the motion to dismiss/summary judgment was filed eleven months before. See "Notice of Clarification, " R. 32, p. 1. Dr. Growse's Declaration sets forth his version of Meador's medical history at the prison, his version of the relevant facts concerning Meador's medical treatment (including Meador's disciplinary conviction for secretly hoarding medication), and his professional opinion about both Meador's medical condition and the adjustments he ordered to Meador's medication regimen.
On March 14, 2014, the Court entered a Memorandum Opinion and Order ("the Opinion and Order") in which it granted Dr. Growse's motion for summary judgment, concluding that based on the record, Meador had not established that Dr. Growse had been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. [R. 34] The Court then entered judgment in favor of Dr. Growse. [R. 35] On that same date, Meador placed in the prison mail system a two-page pleading in which he objected to the filing of Dr. Growse's actual Declaration in the record, arguing that the Declaration "... is now untimely to be introduced into evidence...., " and that "... the defendant never served him that declaration." [R. 36, p. 1] Meador asked the Court to exclude Dr. Growse's actual Declaration from the record. [ Id. ] On March 20, 2014, the Clerk of the Court received Meador's pleading and filed it in the record on that date. [ Id. ].
On April 8, 2014, Meador filed his Rule 59(e) motion. [R. 37] Meador argues that the Opinion and Order and Judgment should be set aside because Dr. Growse did not receive permission to file his actual Declaration on March 7, 2014, (months after he had filed his motion to dismiss/summary judgment), and because he (Meador) had filed an objection to the late filing of Dr. Growse's actual Declaration. [ Id. ] Meador claims that he was prejudiced by the filing of Dr. Growse's Declaration on March 7, 2014, and the Court's reliance on it was clear error of law. [ Id. ]
On April 18, 2014, Dr. Growse responded to Meador's Rule 59(e) motion, arguing that Meador had not objected in a timely fashion to the fact that the actual Declaration had not been filed in the record in April 2013, and that Meador suffered no actual prejudice based on the fact that the Declaration was not filed in the record until March 2014. [R. 38] Dr. Growse further argued that the record contained overwhelming evidence that supported the result reached in the Opinion and Order, i.e., that the temporary change in Meador's medications-based on Meador's admitted violation of BOP rules by pretending to take medications but instead hoarding them-did not amount to deliberate indifference to Meador's serious medical needs.
A district court may only grant a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend the judgment if there has been "(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." Betts v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 558 F.3d 461, 474 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Henderson v. Walled Lake Cons.Sch., 469 F.3d 479, 496 (6th Cir. 2006)). However, motions under Rule 59(e) "are not intended as a vehicle to relitigate previously considered issues; should not be utilized to submit evidence which could have been previously submitted in the exercise of reasonable diligence; and are not the proper vehicle to attempt to obtain a reversal of a judgment by offering the same arguments ...