United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
CHESTER V. ZEIGLER, Plaintiff,
HECTOR RIOS, et al., Defendants.
SUPPLEMENTAL REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
T. ERWIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a state prisoner, has brought this action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, alleging a violation of his rights under the
United States Constitution. United States District Judge
Vicki Miles-LaGrange has referred the matter to the
undersigned for the entry of appropriate orders as to
non-dispositive matters, and for the preparation and
submission of proposed findings and recommendations as to
dispositive matters, as referenced in 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B) and (C).
issue is Plaintiff's Supplemental Response to the Motion
for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 100). For the reasons provided
below, and for those expressed in the previous Report and
Recommendation (ECF No. 87), the Court should
GRANT Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 77).
lawsuit is based on allegations that Defendants denied and
delayed him medical treatment in violation of the Eighth
Amendment. (ECF No. 57). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that
Defendants failed to provide him proper medical care for his
broken jaw which had been diagnosed by prison officials at
Lawton Correctional Facility (LCF) on December 29, 2015. (ECF
Nos. 57:2; 67-3; 67-4). On January 4, 2016, Mr. Zeigler was
taken to the OU Medical Center where a physician told
Plaintiff that the broken jaw would require surgery. (ECF
Nos. 57:2-3; 67-6:9). Surgery was apparently scheduled
sometime after that appointment, but medical records indicate
that “for unknown reasons, the patient did not show for
their [sic] appointment.” (ECF No. 67-17:1). Mr.
Zeigler was returned to the LCF medical unit, where he claims
he was isolated without treatment for the jaw. (ECF No.
57:2-3). The surgery was then rescheduled for February 5,
2016 and on that date,  Mr. Zeigler was transported to the
hospital, but the procedure was not performed because
Plaintiff's jaw had healed. (ECF Nos. 57:3; 67-16:3-6;
Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and the
undersigned issued a Report and Recommendation, recommending
summary judgment in favor of the Defendants on the Eighth
Amendment claim. (ECF Nos. 77 & 87). In doing so, the
undersigned concluded: (1) that Mr. Zeigler had sufficiently
demonstrated that objectively, the harm he complained
was “sufficiently serious” to merit
constitutional protection, but (2) Plaintiff had failed to
raise a genuine issue of fact regarding whether Defendants
had exhibited “deliberate indifference.” (ECF No.
to Mr. Zeigler, Defendants committed deliberate indifference
by “declining to transport Plaintiff to a medical
facility to receive treatment even though treatment was
readily available.” (ECF No. 57:4). Plaintiff imputed
Defendants' failure to act as motivated by
“financial considerations, ” stating that
Defendants, as a “for-profit prison opted not to
transport Zeigler simply to avoid the expense of
surgery.” (ECF Nos. 57:5, 80:2). In response,
Defendants presented evidence that a
“miscommunication” had existed regarding the
surgery date, which the undersigned found would constitute
negligence, at best. (ECF No. 87:17). Because the Defendants had
met their burden to establish the absence of a genuine issue
of material fact, by pointing to evidence that they lacked
knowledge of the scheduled surgery date, the burden shifted
to Mr. Zeigler to “to present some evidence, other than
his initial pleadings, to show that there [was] more than
just a metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.”
(ECF No. 87:18) (citation omitted).
reply, Plaintiff referenced evidence wherein Dr. Sonkarley
had noted that for “unknown reasons, ” Mr.
Zeigler had failed to keep his surgery appointment. (ECF Nos.
80:2; 67-17:1). But the undersigned found that this evidence
did not support Plaintiff's position that the Defendants
had deliberately kept him from the surgery, because the
reasons for missing the appointment were “unknown,
” and Plaintiff had not presented any evidence that the
missed surgery had been motivated for financial reasons.
Thus, the undersigned concluded that “Mr. Zeigler has
failed to meet his burden to present evidence that would
create a disputed fact regarding whether Defendants had
indeed been unaware of the scheduled appointment and had
acted with deliberate indifference in failing to transport
him for surgery.” (ECF No. 87:19). Accordingly, the
undersigned recommended that the Court grant summary judgment
to Defendants. (ECF No. 87:19).
to the Report and Recommendation, Plaintiff retained counsel
and objected to the recommendation. See ECF Nos. 88,
91, 95. In a supplemental objection, counsel for Mr. Zeigler
requested the opportunity to present:
• “additional evidence and have time for limited
discovery that is needed to understand the true motivation
for ODOC's delay in treating a broken jaw[;]”
• “an affidavit stating what the dentist for ODOC
told him, that is, that because his jaw healed improperly, he
is not able to even get dentures put in[;]”
• “affidavits from others and [Plaintiff] that
ODOC never fixes or rarely fixes inmates [sic]
• Evidence at a hearing “to give additional
testimony to show Mr. Zeigler's explanation is not
(ECF No. 95:8-9). Judge Miles-LaGrange granted the request,
in part, allowing Plaintiff leave to conduct discovery for
the sole issue of presenting evidence regarding “the
true motivation for the Lawton Correctional Facility's
delay in ...