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Dopp v. Honaker

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

September 30, 2019

BUDDY HONAKER et al., Defendants.


          CHARLES B. GOODWIN, United States District Judge.

         Now before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 110) of Defendants Laura Neefe, Theresa Sellers, Denise Beard, [1] Yvonne Neau, MD, and C. Stephen Paine, MD (the “CCA Defendants”). Plaintiff Richard Lynn Dopp has filed a Response (Doc. No. 113), and the CCA Defendants have replied (Doc. No. 114).


         Plaintiff’s sole surviving 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim stems from the medical care he received while incarcerated (1) from July 1, 2015, to October 11, 2016, at Cimarron Correctional Facility (“CCF”) (a facility in Cushing, Oklahoma, operated by a company formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America) and (2) from October 12, 2016, to April 20, 2017, at North Fork Correctional Center (“NFCC”), a facility operated by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (“ODOC”). See Am. Compl. (Doc. No. 9) at 8-9, 11, 12-20; see also Dopp v. Honaker, No. CIV-16-1164-D, 2018 WL 3301526, at *1 (W.D. Okla. Jan. 24, 2018) (R. & R.), adopted in part, 2018 WL 1447876 (W.D. Okla. Mar. 23, 2018).[2] The present Motion concerns the allegedly improper treatment Plaintiff received from the CCA Defendants while housed at CCF.[3] Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief, costs, and fees. See Am. Compl. at 9, 10, 11.


         Summary judgment is a means of testing in advance of trial whether the available evidence would permit a reasonable jury to find in favor of the party asserting a claim. The Court must grant summary judgment when “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). When considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court views the evidence and the inferences drawn from the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Pittsburg, Inc. v. PepsiCo, Inc., 431 F.3d 1241, 1255 (10th Cir. 2005).

         While the Court construes a pro se litigant’s pleadings liberally, all parties must adhere to applicable procedural rules. See Kay v. Bemis, 500 F.3d 1214, 1218 (10th Cir. 2007). A party that moves for summary judgment has the burden of showing that the undisputed material facts require judgment as a matter of law in its favor. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). To defeat summary judgment, the nonmovant need not convince the Court that it will prevail at trial, but it must cite sufficient evidence admissible at trial to allow a reasonable jury to find in the nonmovant’s favor-i.e., to show that there is a question of material fact that must be resolved by the jury. See Garrison v. Gambro, Inc., 428 F.3d 933, 935 (10th Cir. 2005). Parties may establish the existence or nonexistence of a material disputed fact through:

• citation to “depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . ., admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials” in the record; or
• demonstration “that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.”

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A), (B).

         When assessing the CCA Defendants’ Motion, the undersigned has treated the factual allegations of Plaintiff’s verified filings (e.g., the Amended Complaint and Plaintiff’s CCA Response), and of the affidavits submitted by the CCA Defendants, as affidavit or declaration evidence to the extent those allegations are sworn or declared under penalty of perjury and are “made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant or declarant is competent to testify on the matters stated.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4); see Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1111 (10th Cir. 1991); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1746.


         I. Defendants Sellers and Neefe

         The CCA Defendants first argue that Plaintiff has shown no “affirmative link” between any action taken by either Defendant Sellers or Defendant Neefe and the alleged constitutional deprivations, as required to hold someone individually liable on a § 1983 claim. See CCA Defs.’ Mot. at 25-30; Schneider v. City of Grand Junction Police Dep’t, 717 F.3d 760, 767-68 (10th Cir. 2013) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009)). Plaintiff responds that these Defendants “had minimal involvement” and that he does not object to their “dismiss[al]” from this lawsuit. Pl.’s CCA Resp. at 4.

         Based upon Plaintiff’s express representation, the Court shall dismiss Defendant Sellers and Defendant Neefe from this lawsuit pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2).

         II. The Remaining CCA Defendants

         Defendants Beard, Neau, and Paine dispute many of Plaintiff’s factual allegations and specifically deny that Plaintiff has shown that a genuine issue exists as to whether they acted with the requisite deliberate indifference in providing Plaintiff medical treatment at CCF. See CCA Defs.’ Mot. at 18-25.

         A. Relevant Facts[4]

         Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint on April 20, 2017, alleging, in relevant part, that the CCA Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff’s medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment when treating Plaintiff for severe pain caused by his “serious degenerative medical condition” of “cervical foraminal stenosis neck bone nerve cord impingement.” Am. Compl. at 8-9, 10-17. The Court has previously summarized his allegations:

Plaintiff has been diagnosed with a degenerative spinal condition that causes severe, chronic pain ..... While at CCF, Plaintiff received a previously scheduled appointment to be evaluated by a neurosurgeon at the OU Medical Center; the appointment resulted in Plaintiff’s examination by a “screener” who advised Plaintiff that surgery could correct his condition but OU Medical Center would not provide it due to budgetary constraints. Plaintiff “then requested Dr. Paine, T. Sellers, and S. May to schedule him to see an independent medical facility such as Laser Institute in OKC, OK, to provide the corrective surgery, but said requests were denied.” See Am. Compl. at 13. Plaintiff also provided the CCA Defendants with “copies of results of totally . . . independent medical facility, North American Spine Institute (NASI), . . . after they reviewed [Plaintiff’s] 2014 MRI CD images ..... NASI concluded [Plaintiff] required surgical fusion to correct his lower neck bone degenerative condition and relieve the pain caused by the nerve cord impingement.” Id. at 13.

Dopp, 2018 WL 1447876, at *5 (alterations and second, third, and fourth omissions in original); see also Id . at *2 (accepting two exhibits (Doc. Nos. 71-1 and 71-2) as part of Plaintiff’s pleading), *6 (noting that Plaintiff’s remaining § 1983 claim regards “surgical treatment of his medical condition”); Pl.’s CCA Resp. at 3 (“The point of all this is whether [Plaintiff] could have benefitted from corrective surgery and . . . whether [the CCA Defendants] were deliberately indifferent for failing to provide that surgery.”).

         The following facts are material to Plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment claim against the CCA Defendants ...

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