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Moore v. Hopkins County

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

October 23, 2019

RICHARD EDWARD MOORE III PLAINTIFF
v.
HOPKINS COUNTY, KENTUCKY, et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Joseph H. McKinley Jr., Senior Judge United States District Court

         This matter is before the Court on Motions for Summary Judgment filed by two groups of defendants. [DN 100; DN 101]. The first group of defendants consists of Advanced Correctional Healthcare, Inc. (“ACH”), Matthew Johnston, Jodi Blake (now Smith), Stephanie Utley, Robin Ramburger, Cheryl Connelly, Jaclyn Gibson, Deborah Ash (collectively “ACH Defendants”). [DN 100]. The second group of defendants-named in their individual capacities-consists of Joe Blue, Jarret Backhust, Carl Coy, Victoria Davenport, Tracy Griffith, James Manns, Chris Melton, Amber Eagles, Brandon Lampton, Angela Hopper, and Adam Qualls (collectively “County Defendants”). [DN 101-1]. Fully briefed, this matter is ripe for decision. For the following reasons, the Court holds that Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment are GRANTED.

         I. Background

         Pro se[1] Plaintiff Richard Moore III was a pretrial detainee at Hopkins County Jail for three months. [DN 100-1 at 2, 6]. The Jail contracts with ACH to provide medical services. [DN 100 - 1 at 15-16]. During Moore's incarceration, he, or someone on his behalf, submitted 16 documented sick calls; he was seen at least 14 times. [DN 100-1 at 3; DN 100-6]. Moore's sick calls were for issues such as dental problems, chest pain, dizziness, requests for medication, and heart problems. [DN 100-6]. A Licensed Practical Nurse (“LPN”) responded to Moore's sick calls and treated him. [DN 100-23 Pl. 77:4-14]. He was prescribed medication for his dental issues and given relevant treatment for his other complaints. [DN 100-6; DN 100-9; DN 100-10]. Later, a dentist examined Moore and recommended that one tooth be extracted. [DN 100-11]. Moore refused to have the infected tooth extracted unless the dentist extracted of all his teeth. [DN 100-11; DN 100-12]. According to ACH Defendants' expert, Moore was given appropriate treatment while incarcerated. [DN 75-1 at 6]. Moore was released from jail to a rehabilitation facility. [DN 100-14].

         He then sued Defendants in this Court.[2] [DN 1]. The Court gave Moore permission to amend his complaint, which he did. [DN 23; DN 24]. Defendants initially included Hopkins County, Joe Blue, Carl Coy, Amber Eagles, Brandon Lampton, Angela Hopper, Jarret Blackhurst, Victoria Davenport, Tracy Griffith, James Manns, Chris Melton, and Adam Qualls. [DN 24]. Those defendants asked the Court to dismiss the case. [DN 44]. The Court dismissed the case as it applied to claims against Hopkins County and Hopkins County Jail employees sued in their official capacities; it did not dismiss the case as it applied to claims against Hopkins County Jail employees sued in their individual capacities. [DN 52]. Defendants now move for summary judgment. [DN 100; DN 101].

         II. Standard of Review

         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.

         Obligations under Rule 56 are not lessened for a pro se plaintiff. “The liberal treatment of pro se pleadings does not require the lenient treatment of substantive law, and the liberal standards that apply at the pleading stage do not apply after a case has progressed to the summary judgment stage.” Johnson v. Stewart, No. 08-1521, 2010 WL 8738105, at *3 (6th Cir. May 5, 2010) (internal citations omitted). The Sixth Circuit has made it clear that, when opposing summary judgment, a party cannot rely on allegations or denials in unsworn filings and that a party's “status as a pro se litigant does not alter [this] duty on a summary judgment motion.” Viergutz v. Lucent Techs., Inc., 375 Fed.Appx. 482, 485 (6th Cir. 2010); see also United States v. Brown, 7 Fed.Appx. 353, 354 (6th Cir. 2001) (affirming grant of summary judgment against a pro se plaintiff because he “failed to present any evidence to defeat the government's motion”). Statements in a verified complaint that are based on personal knowledge, however, may function as the equivalent of affidavit statements for purposes of summary judgment. Weberg v. Franks, 229 F.3d 514, 526 n.13 (6th Cir. 2000); Williams v. Browman, 981 F.2d 901, 905 (6th Cir. 1992).

         III. Discussion

         Moore alleges that the Defendants violated his Fifth, Eighth, Tenth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution. [DN 24]. He also alleges state claims under KRS § 71.040, negligence, gross negligence, and outrage (intentional infliction of emotional distress). [DN 24]. The Court considers each of Moore's claims in turn.

         A. Abandonment of Claims

         The ACH Defendants argue that Moore has abandoned his claims against all ACH Defendant individuals except ACH Defendant Johnston-the Court agrees. [DN 111 at 2-3]. The Sixth Circuit has said, “a plaintiff is deemed to have abandoned a claim when a plaintiff fails to address it in response to a motion for summary judgment.” Brown v. VHS of Mich., Inc., 545 Fed.Appx. 368, 372 (6th Cir. 2013) (collecting cases). Moore has abandoned all of his Fifth and Tenth Amendment claims because he fails to even mention them in his response. [DN 110]. Moore's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment claims against all of the ACH Defendants, except ACH Defendant Johnston, are abandoned because he only responded to arguments about ACH Defendant Johnston-he did not even discuss the other ACH Defendants in his response. [Id.]. So, the Court will only analyze Moore's claims against ACH Defendant Johnston.

         For the same reason that Moore's Fifth and Tenth Amendment claims against the ACH Defendants are abandoned, so are his Fifth and Tenth Amendment claims against the County Defendants. Moore's claims against County Defendants Victoria Davenport, Tracy Griffith, James Manns, Chris Melton, Brandon Lampton, and Adam Qualls are also abandoned because he did not address claims against these defendants in his response. Thus, only Moore's claims ...


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