Dorsey v. Davidson Cnty. Sheriff's Office

Decision Date01 September 2011
Docket NumberConsolidated with 3:10-1006,NO. 3:10-0887,3:10-0887
CourtU.S. District Court — Middle District of Tennessee
TO: Honorable Kevin H. Sharp, District Judge

By Order entered September 29, 2010 (Docket Entry No. 3), this action1 was referred to the Magistrate Judge to enter a scheduling order for the management of the case, to dispose or recommend disposition of any pretrial motions 28 U.S.C. §§ 636(b)(1)(A) and (B), and to conduct further proceedings, if necessary, under Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the Local Rules of Court.

Presently pending before the Court are the Motion for Summary Judgment of Defendants Correct Care Solutions ("Correct Care")and Efren Vargas (Docket Entry No. 43), the Second Motion to Dismiss of Defendants Davidson County Sheriff's Office ("Sheriff's Office") and Ricky Temple (Docket Entry No. 33), the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment of the plaintiff (Docket Entry No. 83), and the Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment of Defendants Davidson County Sheriff's Officer and Ricky Temple (Docket Entry No. 95).2 For the reasons set out below, the Court recommends that the Defendants' motions be granted, the plaintiff's motion be denied, and this action be dismissed.


The plaintiff is currently an inmate at the Morgan County Correctional Complex. He filed his two actions seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on allegations that his civil rights were violated by events which occurred when he was a pre-trial detainee at the Davidson County Criminal Justice Center ("CJC") . Named as defendants are the Davidson County Sheriff's Office ("Sheriff's Office"), CJC correctional officer Ricky Temple, Correct Care Solutions, LLC ("Correct Care"), an entity which has contracted to provide medical care to inmates at the CJC, and Dr. Efren Vargas, a physician and the Medical Director for Correct Care.3

While an inmate at the CJC, the plaintiff injured his right shoulder on the evening of August 9, 2010, when he was hit by his cell door as it was closing.4 The plaintiff contends that several correctional officers contacted the CJC medical on his behalf throughout the night ofAugust 9, 2010, and during the morning of August 10, 2010, but were told by the medical clinic staff that the plaintiff could wait to be seen. The plaintiff asserts that he was eventually told by a correctional officer to go to sick-call on the afternoon of August 10, 2010, with other inmates who were going to the medical clinic but that once he arrived at the clinic, Defendant Temple prohibited him from seeing the nurse stating that the plaintiff was "not on the sick-call list" and told him to go back to his housing pod. See Complaint (Docket Entry No. 1), at 3-4. The plaintiff alleges that, after returning to his housing pod, he was taken to the medical clinic a short time later and was seen by Correct Care employee Ms. Ping who told him to fill out a sick call request and provided him with no actual treatment. See Amended Complaint (Docket Entry No. 28), at 4-5. The plaintiff was seen in the medical clinic on August 11 and 13, 2010, and was given pain medications and an x-ray, which showed no structural damage.

The plaintiff asserts that the pain in his shoulder continued to persist and that, although he was seen by medical care providers in the several months since the injury, the pain medication he was provided was ineffective to treat his continued pain and he was given no other treatment to repair his shoulder injury. He contends that his complaints that he had a serious shoulder injury were essentially ignored for approximately three months until he was finally given a MRI in early November 2010, the results of which revealed that he had a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder. He alleges that he was briefly given physical therapy for his injury but has not received any additional treatment. The plaintiff specifically alleges that Defendant Vargas treated him callously, mocked him, and refused to order the MRI until this lawsuit was filed.5

By their motion for summary judgment, Defendants Correct Care and Vargas deny that they were deliberately indifferent to the plaintiff's medical needs. To the contrary, they argue that the undisputed evidence establishes that an appropriate course of treatment was provided to the plaintiff for his injury. Therefore, they contend that they are entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. Defendants Correct Care and Vargas support their motion with the affidavit of Efren Vargas (Docket Entry No. 43-1) and with copies of the plaintiff's medical records. See Docket Entry Nos. 43-2 and 43-3.

Defendants Temple and the Sheriff's Office initially filed a motion to dismiss asserting that the facts set out in the plaintiff's pleadings are not sufficient to support constitutional claims against them. See Docket Entry No. 33. Subsequently, a cross-motion for summary judgment seeking summary judgment was filed by Defendants Temple and the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County ("Metro").6 See Docket Entry No. 95. Defendant Temple contends that the evidence before the Court fails to support a claim for individual liability against him. He asserts that he was a security officer at the medical clinic on August 10, 2010, and refused the plaintiff admittance to the clinic in accordance with CJC policy which only permits inmates from the same housing floor to visit the medical clinic at the time. See Affidavit of Ricky Temple (Docket Entry No. 99). He further asserts that a nurse approved of sending the plaintiff back to his housing unitand that the plaintiff was seen in the clinic a short time later when inmates from his housing floor were called to the clinic. Id. In the motion to dismiss, the Sheriff's Office contends that: 1) it is not an entity capable of being sued under Section 1983; and 2) the plaintiff fails to allege facts supporting a claim of municipal liability against it. See Docket Entry No. 33.

The plaintiff has responded in opposition to each of the motions filed by the defendants and has also filed his own motion for partial summary judgment seeking summary judgment on the issue of liability. He contends that the medical records support his claim that he was treated with deliberate indifference by the defendants.


A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is reviewed under the standard that the Court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in the complaint, resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor, and construe the complaint liberally in favor of the pro se plaintiff. See Kottmyer v. Maas, 436 F.3d 684 (6th Cir. 2006); Boswell v. Mayer, 169 F.3d 384, 387 (6th Cir. 1999); Morgan v. Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 11-12 (6th Cir. 1987). However, although the complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, the plaintiff must provide the grounds for his entitlement to relief and this "requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (abrogating Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)). See also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S._, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).

The factual allegations supplied must be enough to show a plausible right to relief. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-61. More than bare assertions of legal conclusions are required to withstand a motion to dismiss and the complaint must contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all of the material elements to sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory. Id.; Scheid v. Fanny Farmer Candy Shops, Inc., 859 F.2d 434, 436-37 (6th Cir. 1988). The Court need not accept as true legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences. See Gregory v. Shelby Cnty., 220 F.3d 433, 446 (6th Cir. 2000). Although Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not constitute a "hyper-technical, code-pleading regime," it "does not unlock the doors of discovery for a Plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950. A complaint does not "suffice if it tenders 'naked assertions' devoid of 'further factual enhancement.'" Id. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

A motion for summary judgment is reviewed under the standard that summary judgment is appropriate if "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). A "genuine issue of material fact" is a fact which, if proven at trial, could lead a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). In considering whether summary judgment is appropriate, the Court must "look beyond the pleadings and assess the proof to determine whether there is a genuine need for trial." Sowards v. Loudon Cnty., 203 F.3d 426, 431 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 875, 121 S.Ct. 179, 148 L.Ed.2d 123 (2000). In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court must view the evidence and all inferences drawn from underlying facts "in thelight most favorable to the party opposing the motion." See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., Ltd., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Gribcheck v. Runyon, 245 F.3d 547, 550 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 534 U.S. 896, 122 S.Ct. 217, 151 L.Ed.2d 155 (2001).

The moving party has the burden of showing the absence of genuine factual disputes from which a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving part...

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