United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
K. EPPS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
an inmate at Johnson State Prison in Wrightsville, Georgia,
is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis
(“IFP”) in this civil rights case. Before the
Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (Doc.
no. 29.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court
REPORTS and RECOMMENDS the
motion for summary judgment be GRANTED, a
final judgment be ENTERED in favor of
Defendants, and this civil action be CLOSED.
Plaintiff is proceeding IFP, the Court screened
Plaintiff's complaint in compliance with the IFP statute,
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A. The Court allowed
Plaintiff to proceed with a claim for deliberate indifference
to a serious medical need, based on Plaintiff's
allegations prison officials denied him a prosthetic leg and
treatment for vascular problems. (See doc. nos. 1,
10.) Plaintiff asserts this claim against Defendants Shawn
Emmons, former warden at Johnson State Prison
(“JSP”), Mitzi Hall, Director of Nursing at JSP,
and Sharon Sutton, Registered Nurse assigned by the Medical
College of Georgia to assist with inmate healthcare. (Doc.
nos. 1; 1-1, p. 3.) Plaintiff seeks a court order requiring
Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) to provide him with a
prosthetic leg, therapy with the prosthesis, and a medical
exam by a vascular surgeon. (Doc. no. 1-1, p. 5). Plaintiff
also seeks compensatory, nominal, and punitive damages for
pain and mental anguish. (Id.)
Defendants submitted a Statement of Material Facts pursuant
to Loc. R. 56.1, to which Plaintiff never responded, the
Court deems admitted all facts in that Statement which find
support in the record and Plaintiff has not properly opposed.
Scoggins v. Arrow Trucking Co., 92 F.Supp.2d 1372,
1373 n.1 (S.D. Ga. 2000); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); see also
Williams v. Slack, 438 Fed.Appx. 848, 849-50 (11th Cir.
2011) (finding no error in deeming defendants' statements
of material fact admitted where pro se prisoner
failed to respond with specific citations to evidence and
otherwise failed to state valid objection to statement).
However, Defendants, as movants, continue to “shoulder
the initial burden of production in demonstrating the absence
of any genuine issue of material fact.” Reese v.
Herbert, 527 F.3d 1253, 1268 (11th Cir. 2008); see
also Mann v. Taser Int'l, Inc., 588 F.3d 1291, 1303
(11th Cir. 2009). Thus, the Court will review Defendants'
representation of the record, including Plaintiff's sworn
deposition testimony, and factually supported opposition to
the Statement of Material Facts, “to determine if there
is, indeed, no genuine issue of material fact.”
Mann, 588 F.3d at 1303.
right leg was amputated in 2008, prior to his incarceration,
after a tree fell on his knee. (Pl. Dep., doc. no. 29-3, p.
26-27.) On July 18, 2013, Plaintiff came into GDC's
custody at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison after
being sentenced to twelve years of incarceration for
attempted rape. (Id. at 17; Emmons Decl., doc. no.
29-4, ¶ 7.) Although Plaintiff had a prosthetic leg
prior to his incarceration, he was not wearing it when taken
into custody on July 18, 2013, because it did not fit well
and “kept coming off.” (Id. at 28-30.)
On March 20, 2014, Plaintiff was transferred to JSP, where he
remains incarcerated. (Emmons Decl. ¶ 7.) Plaintiff has
had a wheelchair throughout his incarceration at JSP but no
prosthetic leg. (Pl. Dep., p. 33.) Plaintiff suffered back
pain and fatigue from being in a wheelchair. (Id. at
47.) Plaintiff testified he has not fallen at JSP.
(Id. at 47-48.)
procedures require Utilization Management Services
(“UM”) to review and approve prisoner medical
consultation requests, including prosthesis consultations.
(Hall Decl., doc. no. 29-5, ¶¶ 14-15; Sutton Decl.,
doc. no. 29-5, ¶ 23.) Only UM staff may approve or deny
requests for consultations or procedures. (Hall Decl. ¶
19; Sutton Decl. ¶ 24.) Defendants did not have
authority to overrule decisions made by UM. (Emmons Decl.
¶ 15; Hall Decl. ¶ 30; Sutton Decl. ¶ 26.)
29, 2014, a medical consultation request was submitted to
evaluate Plaintiff for a prosthesis. (Hall Decl. ¶ 23;
doc. no. 29-7, p. 3.) Dr. Wayne Wells at UM denied the
request on January 6, 2015, commenting Plaintiff entered the
system without a prosthesis. (Hall Decl. ¶¶ 22, 25;
doc. no. 29-7, pp. 3-4.) A new consultation was requested for
Plaintiff on March 5, 2015. (Hall Decl. ¶ 26; doc. no.
29-7, p. 5.) Dr. Wells again denied the request, noting there
had been no acute changes in Plaintiff's condition and
Plaintiff should continue with his current mode of
transportation by wheelchair. (Id.) On May 31, 2016,
a third consultation request was submitted on behalf of
Plaintiff for approval of a prosthesis. (Hall Decl. ¶
27; doc. no. 29-7, pp. 6-7.) UM approved the request, and
Plaintiff received a prosthesis on September 20, 2016.
(Id.; doc. no. 29-7, pp. 7-8.) Plaintiff presently
undergoes physical therapy for his right leg and exercises
for his left leg. (Pl. Dep., pp. 45, 48.)
Shawn Emmons was warden at JSP from October 15, 2016, until
July 1, 2017. (Emmons Decl. ¶ 3.) Plaintiff met with Mr.
Emmons once to discuss obtaining a prosthesis. (Pl. Dep., p.
36; Emmons Decl. ¶ 9.) Mr. Emmons spoke to medical
personnel following the meeting and learned Dr. Wells of UM
had already denied Plaintiff's request for a prosthesis.
(Emmons Decl. ¶ 9.) Mr. Emmons informed Plaintiff of the
denial. (Id.) Plaintiff testified he also asked Mr.
Emmons about obtaining his old prosthesis from home, but Mr.
Emmons told him he could not “get that leg from home
because it might have contraband in it and he was afraid if
they take it . . . loose, they might not put it back together
like it was.” (Pl. Dep., p. 36) Plaintiff did not
mention to Mr. Emmons his alleged falls in the shower or from
bed or his requests for vascular treatment. (Emmons Decl.
¶ 10.) As warden, Mr. Emmons had no authority to direct
medical care, request consultations from UM, approve or deny
consultation or procedure requests, or overrule UM decisions.
(Id. ¶¶ 12, 15-16.) Mr. Emmons did not
direct Plaintiff's medical care or treatment. (Emmons
Decl. ¶ 17.)
Mitzi Hall is the Director of Nursing at JSP. (Hall Decl.
¶ 3.) Ms. Hall does not treat inmates directly.
(Id. ¶ 31.) On November 3, 2014, Ms. Hall noted
on Plaintiff's medical problem list he is in a wheelchair
due to an above the knee amputation of his right leg.
(Id. ¶ 32.) On August 28, 2014, Ms. Hall noted
in Plaintiff's record he should be treated
prophylactically due to a trend of scabies in his dorm.
(Id. ¶ 33.) On March 23, 2016, Ms. Hall noted
in Plaintiff's record the need for a new consult
concerning Plaintiff's request for a stump shrinker.
(Id. ¶ 34.) Plaintiff never reported to Ms.
Hall falling in the shower or his bed or needing vascular
treatment. (Id. ¶¶ 35-36.)
only met with Ms. Hall once. (Pl. Dep., pp. 37-38.) At that
meeting, Plaintiff asked Ms. Hall about obtaining his old
prosthesis. (Id.) Ms. Hall directed Plaintiff to
speak with the CERT team about the issue. (Id.)
Plaintiff states he asked Ms. Hall for a prosthesis and she
told him he did not “deserve a leg” because he
did not have one when he arrived at JSP. (Id. at
34.) Ms. Hall states she never told Plaintiff he did not
deserve a prosthesis. (Id. ¶ 37.) Plaintiff
testified Ms. Hall never treated him and never refused to
give him medical treatment. (Pl. Dep., p. 53.)
Sharon Sutton is a registered nurse employed by Georgia
Correctional Health Care and was assigned to assist with
healthcare to inmates in GDC facilities. (Sutton Decl. ¶
3.) She has met with Plaintiff on several occasions during
his incarceration at JSP. (Id. ¶¶ 10-18.)
On September 23, 2014, Plaintiff complained of pain and
requested a TENS unit and socks for his stump. (Id.
¶ 10.) Ms. Sutton noted Plaintiff's consult for a
prosthesis was pending and referred Plaintiff to an upper
level provider for assessment and evaluation for his pain.
(Id.) Plaintiff later received a TENS unit for his
“phantom pain.” (Pl. Dep., p. 51.) On January 27,
2015, Plaintiff complained he fell out of his wheelchair,
injuring his left wrist and right stump. (Sutton Decl. ¶
11.) Ms. Sutton provided Motrin and a warm compress and
referred Plaintiff to an upper level provider. (Id.)
On April 13, 2015, Plaintiff complained of right stump
swelling and requested a walker and prosthesis. (Id.
¶ 13.) Ms. Sutton referred Plaintiff to an upper level
provider for assessment and evaluation. (Id.) On May
26, 2015, Plaintiff again requested a stump shrinker and a
prosthesis. (Id. ¶ 14.) Ms. Sutton informed
Plaintiff the prosthesis was not approved and referred him to
an upper level provider for assessment and evaluation.
September 28, 2015, Plaintiff informed Ms. Sutton he had
fallen two or three times a week due to
dizziness. (Id. ¶ 17.) Ms. Sutton noted
Plaintiff was in physical therapy five times a week and
ambulating with a walker. (Id.) She referred
Plaintiff to an upper level provider regarding his dizziness.
(Id.) On March 30, 2016, Plaintiff complained of
left foot numbness and a “knot” under his big
toe. (Id. ¶ 18.) Ms. Sutton noted Plaintiff
uses a wheelchair and wears a soft shoe on his left foot.
(Id.) She referred Plaintiff to an upper level
provider. (Id.) Plaintiff states Ms. Sutton treated
him when he went in for sick call but does not recall any
particular conversations. (Pl. Dep., pp. 41-42.) Plaintiff
states Ms. Sutton never refused to give him medical
treatment. (Id. at 53.)
never reported needing treatment for vascular issues to
Defendants Emmons and Hall. (Emmons Decl. ¶ 10; Hall
Decl. ¶ 36.) Additionally, Plaintiff does not have
circulation issues and has not been told he needs to see a
circulation specialist. (Pl. Dep., pp. 52-53.) Furthermore, a
medical problem list kept at the front of each GDC
inmate's medical chart documents long-term medical
conditions or short-term conditions resulting in permanent
changes to an inmate's health care. (Hall Decl. ¶
7.) Plaintiff's medical problem list indicates a history
of seizures, an above-knee amputation of his right leg,
hypertension, diabetes, and non-compliance in taking
Neurontin. (Id. ¶ 10.) The list does not
indicate a diagnosis of vascular or circulation problems.
(Id. ¶ 12; Sutton Decl. ¶ 21.)