Kelsey v. Ewing

Decision Date24 June 1981
Docket NumberNo. 80-2144,80-2144
Citation652 F.2d 4
PartiesDwight W. KELSEY, Appellant, v. Dr. EWING, individually and as well as in his official capacity as physician for the Department of Corrections, Stillwater State Prison, Appellee.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit

Dwight W. Kelsey, pro se.

Ward, Gray & Oehler, Ltd., and Robert S. Abdalian, Rochester, Minn. (argued), for appellant.

Warren R. Spannaus, Atty. Gen., State of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minn., David L. Valentini, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., St. Paul, Minn. (argued), for appellee.

Before HEANEY and BRIGHT, Circuit Judges, and OREN HARRIS, * Senior District Judge.

HEANEY, Circuit Judge.

Appellant Dwight W. Kelsey, an inmate at the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Stillwater, appeals from the December 2, 1980, order of the district court dismissing his claim brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. We reverse.

Kelsey's complaint, filed pro se on July 18, 1980, sought injunctive, declaratory and monetary relief for violations of his constitutional rights in the medical treatment he received at the Stillwater facility. The named defendant, Dr. James W. Ewing, is a physician at the St. Paul Ramsey Medical Center who has provided services at the Stillwater prison since January 1, 1980, pursuant to contract with the Minnesota Department of Corrections. Kelsey alleged that he was not given prompt and adequate treatment for a number of health problems, that medical information was being withheld from him, and that his medical records were improperly disclosed to a third party.

On October 30, 1980, Dr. Ewing filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) & 12(b)(6). Accompanying Dr. Ewing's motion was his affidavit in which he summarized his treatment of Kelsey. The motion was assigned to United States Magistrate Brian P. Short who, on November 3, 1980, recommended that the district court dismiss the suit on the ground that it was frivolous. The magistrate had before him Kelsey's complaint and Dr. Ewing's affidavit, but held no hearing and offered Kelsey no opportunity to file responsive affidavits prior to making the recommendation. The district court dismissed Kelsey's complaint based on the recommendation of the magistrate.

Kelsey filed this timely appeal from the order of dismissal, arguing that the district court improperly treated the defendant's motion as a motion for summary judgment without giving him notice and an opportunity to respond as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b) & 56. Furthermore, Kelsey maintains, his complaint was sufficient to raise genuine factual issues which precluded dismissal. Dr. Ewing responds that the dismissal was appropriate because Kelsey's claim was frivolous and insubstantial, and further argues that the claim for damages is barred by the doctrine of executive immunity.

We need not agonize over the issues raised by this appeal. The district court clearly erred in dismissing Kelsey's claim. Even if we assume that it was appropriate for the magistrate to treat the appellee's motion as one for summary judgment and to consider Dr. Ewing's affidavit, and even if we assume all statements contained in the affidavit are true, Kelsey's complaint contains sufficient unrebutted allegations to raise a factual question about whether he was unconstitutionally deprived of medical care while incarcerated at Stillwater. 1

Summary judgment is appropriate only when no genuine issue of material fact remains in dispute and the movant is clearly entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Vette Co. v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 612 F.2d 1076, 1077 (8th Cir. 1980). For the purposes of summary judgment, uncontested allegations must be taken as true in accordance with the Court's obligation to view the case in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Starling v. Valmac Indus., Inc., 589 F.2d 382, 386 (8th Cir. 1979). Here, there are a number of allegations in Kelsey's complaint that are not addressed by Dr. Ewing's affidavit, including (1) that Kelsey was still bleeding from surgery incisions when he was returned to prison in April, 1980, (2) that he was kept in lock-up in unhealthful living conditions and was denied a medically prescribed diet because Dr. Ewing refused to change his medical status following surgery; (3) that he was denied...

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17 cases
  • West v. Atkins
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • June 20, 1988
    ...against prison hospital administrator to proceed until identity of responsible members of medical staff was determined); Kelsey v. Ewing, 652 F.2d 4 (CA8 1981) (upholding § 1983 action against contract physician at state 8 In his brief and at oral argument, respondent insisted that West had......
  • Johnson-El v. Schoemehl
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit
    • July 17, 1989
    ...(1976), reh'g denied, 429 U.S. 1066, 97 S.Ct. 798, 50 L.Ed.2d 785 (1977); Toombs v. Bell, 798 F.2d 297, 298 (8th Cir.1986); Kelsey v. Ewing, 652 F.2d 4 (8th Cir.1981). 8 For this reason, dismissing this allegation on qualified immunity grounds would be inappropriate. For without disclosure ......
  • Banks v. Mannoia, 93-CV-294.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of New York
    • June 23, 1995
    ...L.Ed.2d 338 (1989); broken hip, Hathaway v. Coughlin, 841 F.2d 48 (2d Cir.1988); premature return to prison after surgery, Kelsey v. Ewing, 652 F.2d 4 (8th Cir.1981); diabetes requiring special diet, Johnson v. Harris, 479 F.Supp. 333 (S.D.N.Y.1979); a bleeding ulcer, Massey v. Hutto, 545 F......
  • Mandala v. Coughlin
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of New York
    • March 16, 1996
    ...104 L.Ed.2d 338 (1989), delay in removing broken pins in a hip, Hathaway, supra, premature return to prison after surgery, Kelsey v. Ewing, 652 F.2d 4 (8th Cir. 1981), a bleeding ulcer, Massey v. Hutto, 545 F.2d 45 (8th Cir.1976), and loss of an ear, Williams v. Vincent, 508 F.2d 541 (2d Ci......
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