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Loftis v. Faubion

United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma

March 27, 2019

EMBRY JAY LOFTIS, Plaintiff,
v.
MITSI FAUBION, et. al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          RONALD A. WHITE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This action is before the court on Defendants' motion for summary judgment. The court has before it for consideration Plaintiff's complaint [Doc. 1], Defendants' motion [Doc. 25], Plaintiff's response to the motion [Doc. 31], and a special report [Doc. 24] prepared by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (“DOC”) at the direction of the court, in accordance with Martinez v. Aaron, 570 F.2d 317 (10th Cir. 1978).

         Plaintiff, a pro se prisoner in the custody of the DOC, is currently incarcerated at Oklahoma State Reformatory Work Center in Granite, Oklahoma. Plaintiff brings this action under the authority of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking relief for alleged constitutional violations during his incarceration at Mack Alford Correctional Center (“MACC”) in Stringtown, Oklahoma. Plaintiff was housed at MACC from February 13, 2014, until his transfer to the Oklahoma State Reformatory on August 1, 2017. [Doc. 24-7 at 2]. Defendants are Dr. Mitsi Faubion; Correctional Health Services Administrator Heather Knight; and Nurse Brittany Campbell. Defendants were employed at MACC at the time when Plaintiff's claims allegedly arose.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Faubion, Knight and Campbell were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical needs. Plaintiff claims that, prior to incarceration, he sustained a left foot injury from a chainsaw accident in 2001, and that he later suffered from an accidental gunshot injury to his left ankle in 2008. [Doc. 1 at 2]. Plaintiff claims he healed from both injuries. Id. After arriving at MACC, Plaintiff began experiencing severe pain in his ankle, and in and around his big left toe, when he walked the track. Id. Plaintiff claims he made requests to see a specialist, and alleges the pain continued to worsen while at MACC. Id. Plaintiff states it took almost two years of complaining in order to get medical assistance. Id. Plaintiff now claims he was “subjected to crule [sic] and unusual punishment, deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution; resulting from an inordinate delay of medical treatment of his pre-existing foot injury.” Id. at 3. Plaintiff sets forth two grounds for relief within his complaint.

         In Count One, Plaintiff claims Defendant Faubion “did act in her individual capacity, and contrary to state law and ODOC Policy Statements, with willful and wanton deliberate indifference and inexcusable disregard for Plaintiff's well-fare [sic] with the intent to either directly or indirectly deny Plaintiff's request to be seen by a [sic] outside specialist in order to obtain special shoes suitable for his foot condition, by communicating to him that ODOC no longer provides special shoes for offenders despite their foot condition.” Id. at 4.

         In Count Two, Plaintiff contends that Defendants Faubion, Knight and Campbell “have all acted in either their individual and/or official capacity by colluding . . . contrary to state statute and/or ODOC Policy, to deny or delay Plaintiff's outside medical treatment by either misleading him to believe that medical referral had been issued to see an outside provider and/or that they had submitted medical documents inorder [sic] to mislead him, or deliberately attempted to defame Plaintiff's claim of suffering from severe pain stemming from his foot condition . . . and to deliberately obstruct the administrative grievance process.” Id. at 9.

         Plaintiff asserts that he has exhausted his administrative remedies. Id. at 18. In support of his claims, Plaintiff attaches certain medical records, Request for Health Services documentation, and Request to Staff documentation. [Doc. 1-1].

         Standard of Review

         The defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment. Summary judgment is appropriate when “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that “a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is material if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Id. In making this determination, “[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.” Id. at 255. However, a party opposing a motion for summary judgment may not simply allege there are disputed issues of fact; rather, the party must support its assertions by citing to the record or by showing the moving party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Thus, the inquiry for this court is “whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52.

         Because Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, the court construes his pleadings liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972). This relaxed standard, however, does not relieve his burden of alleging sufficient facts on which a recognized legal claim could be based. Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991).

         Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

         Defendants allege, among other things, that Plaintiff has failed to exhaust the administrative remedies for the claims set forth in the complaint. [Doc. 25 at 19]. “No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Inmates are required to exhaust available administrative remedies, and suits filed before the exhaustion requirement is met must be dismissed. Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 740-41 (2001); Yousef v. Reno, 254 F.3d 1214, 1216 n.1 (10th Cir. 2001). “An inmate who begins the grievance process but does not complete it is barred from pursuing a § 1983 claim under PLRA for failure to exhaust his administrative remedies.” Jernigan v. Stuchell, 304 F.3d 1030, 1032 (10th Cir. 2002) (citation omitted). Substantial compliance is not sufficient. Id.

         “Proper exhaustion demands compliance with an agency's deadlines and other critical procedural rules.” Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 90 (2006). Futility is not an exception to the exhaustion requirement. Jernigan, 304 F.3d at 1032. Failure to exhaust is excused only if prison officials impede the prisoner's attempts. Little v. Jones, 607 F.3d 1245, 1250 (10th Cir. 2010).

         The procedure for exhausting administrative remedies in this case is set forth in DOC Policy OP-090124 (eff. Oct. 18, 2017) (“Inmate/Offender Grievance Process”). [Doc. 24-3]. The Inmate/Offender Grievance ...


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