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Price v. Correct Care Solutions, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division

April 23, 2019

MARK A. PRICE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS, LLC, et al., DEFENDANTS.

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

          EDWARD B. ATKINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         This matter is before the Court on the Defendants', Correct Care Solutions, LLC, Shelli Conyers-Votan, and Dr. Angela Clifford, motion for summary judgment. [DE # 58]. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b), this case has been referred to the undersigned to conduct further proceedings, including preparing findings of fact and recommendations on any dispositive motions. [DE # 10]. After careful consideration and detailed review, and for the reasons that follow, the undersigned hereby RECOMMENDS that Defendants' motion for summary judgment [DE # 58] on all federal constitutional claims be GRANTED, that his state law claims be dismissed without prejudice, and this case be dismissed with prejudice.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This is a pro se civil rights case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. [DE #1]. In his complaint, Plaintiff Mark A. Price asserts three (3) claims against six (6) defendants. First, he alleges that on or about February 1, 2017, while incarcerated at the Northpoint Training Center (NTC) in Burgin, Kentucky, Nurse Shelli Conyers-Votan gave him arthritis medication to treat a minor ankle sprain which, five or six days later, caused him swelling in numerous joints. Subsequently, upon being seen by an NTC physician, Dr. Angela Clifford, Price contends that she mistakenly diagnosed him with rheumatoid arthritis, and failed to properly treat his (actual) ailments: Hepatitis C and diabetic nerve damage. [Id. at 5-7; Id. at 13]. Second, Price argues that sometime in May 2017, after having returned from the University of Kentucky Medical Center (UKMC), Dr. Clifford refused to follow the recommendations made by the treating physician at UKMC to treat his Hepatitis. [Id. at 8]. Lastly, in his third claim, Price alleges that sometime in May 2017, Dr. Clifford significantly reduced his prescription of Gabapentin, used to treat his diabetic neuropathy, increasing the amount of nerve pain in his feet.[1]

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A, upon initial screening of the complaint, the Court dismissed three (3) of the defendants and the claims against them. [R. 7]. Shortly thereafter, this matter was referred to the undersigned to conduct all further proceedings. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). [DE # 10]. On May 14, 2018, a Scheduling Order was entered establishing respective deadlines [DE # 20]; however, this order was later amended to reflect the dates proposed by Price.[2]

         Throughout this proceeding-and until the filing of this motion-Price's filing of several miscellaneous motions has caused the procedural posture of this case to shift in several respects. From May 25, 2018 to September 25, 2018-a total of four months-Price filed ten (10) motions. See generally DE ## 23, 24, 28, 31, 41, 44, 47, 48, 50, 52. Most of these motions were denied.[3]

         On November 1, 2018, indicating that he would soon be released from incarceration, Price sought a continuance of several of the deadlines set out in the amended scheduling order [DE #54]. The Court granted Price's motion, thus, extending the fact discovery deadline to January 16, 2019 (with status reports being submitted on this date), as well as the dispositive motion deadline to February 11, 2019. [DE #55 ¶¶ 2-3]. On January 14, 2019, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, accompanied by several medical records and grievance records. [DE #58]. The Court directed Price to respond to the defendants' motion on or before February 5, 2019. [DE #62]. No. response was submitted in opposition; instead on February 8, 2019, Price filed a notice of change of address [DE #69].

         Having received notice that Price's mail had been returned as undeliverable (see generally DE ## 66, 67, 68), the Court directed the Clerk to resend the mail to his new address designated in the letter. [DE #69]. Since February, time has come and gone, without any response from Price. Thus, the undersigned, having been tasked with issuing a recommendation on any dispositive motions, now considers the defendants' motion [R. 58]. Defendants move for summary judgment on all claims asserted against them, claiming that Price not only fails on the merits, but also that he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before pursuing this § 1983 action.

         SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         “A party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense - or the part of each claim or defense - on which summary judgment is sought.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “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.” Id. In making the determination as to whether summary judgment is warranted, “a court must view the evidence ‘in the light most favorable to the opposing party.'” Tolan v. Cotton, 572 U.S. 650, 657 (2014) (quoting Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970)). The court's summary judgment analysis “must be construed with due regard not only for the rights of persons asserting claims and defenses that are adequately based in fact to have those claims and defenses tried to a jury, but also for the rights of persons opposing such claims and defenses to demonstrate…prior to trial, that the claims and defenses have no factual basis.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986).

         “[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion.” Id. at 323. But there is “no express or implied requirement in Rule 56 that the moving party support its motion with affidavits or other similar materials negating the opponent's claim.” Id. As such, in some cases, the moving party may be “‘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 her case with respect to which she has the burden of proof.” Id. (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56). Such a motion “therefore requires the nonmoving party to go beyond the pleadings and by her own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. at 324 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         This is so because “[o]ne of the principal purposes of the summary judgment rule is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims or defenses.” Id. at 323-24.

         “[T]he existence of a mere scintilla of evidence in support of the non-moving party's position will not be sufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the non-moving party.” Sutherland v. Mich. Dept. of Treasury, 344 F.3d 603, 613 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251 (1986)). “Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citing First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 288 (1968)). In such a case, summary judgment is warranted. Alabama v. North Carolina, 560 U.S. 330, 344 (2010); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322; Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         WHETHER PRICE FAILED TO EXHAUST ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES

         1. The PLRA exhaustion requirement bars Price's federal claims.

         Defendants first argue that Price failed to fully exhaust the administrative grievance remedies available to him at NTC. As such, this failure warrants summary judgment in the defendants' favor on ...


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