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Ford v. Steward

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

July 8, 2019

RODNEY FORD, Plaintiff,




         Plaintiff Rodney Ford, a prison inmate in the custody of the Michigan Department of Corrections [“MDOC”], has filed a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Before the Court is Defendant Anthony Stewart's motion for summary judgment [Doc. #20], which has been referred for a Report and Recommendation under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). Defendant Stewart was the warden of the MDOC facility where the alleged violation occurred. For the reasons discussed below, I recommend that the motion be GRANTED and that Defendant Stewart be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

         I. FACTS

         At the time of the events alleged in the complaint, Plaintiff was incarcerated at the MDOC's G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson, Michigan, where Defendant Stewart was the warden. Plaintiff alleges that on October 21, 2017, he injured his knee and/or leg while playing basketball. Complaint [Doc. #1], ¶ 17. He was seen by MDOC medical personnel, specifically Defendant Sophia Bradley, a nurse, and Defendant Charles Jamsen, a medical doctor. Id. Bradley and Jamsen did not order x-rays or send Plaintiff for off-site evaluation, but provided him with crutches, ace wrap, Motrin, and ice detail for three days. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that on October 22, 2017, he sent a kite to prison health services because his knee was still swollen and extremely painful. He did not receive an immediate response. Id. ¶ 18. On October 24, 2017, after lunch, Plaintiff was seen by an as-yet unidentified medical officer, who, Plaintiff alleges, demanded that he return the crutches and ordered that he leave the clinic. Id. ¶ 19.

         On October 26, 2017, Plaintiff was transferred to the Chippewa Correctional Facility in Kincheloe, Michigan. Id. ¶ 21. Upon his arrival there, he underwent medical screening. Id. ¶ 23. However, x-rays were not taken until November 1, 2017. Id. ¶ 27. On November 21, 2017, Plaintiff was given a CT scan at War Memorial Hospital in Sault Ste. Marie, and received follow-up evaluations and treatment at the hospital on January 3 and February 1, 2018. Id. ¶ ¶ 31, 35-36.

         Plaintiff alleges that all of the Defendants, including Stewart, failed to implement proper medical procedures, and failed to take steps to remedy an obviously significant medical need. Id. ¶¶ 45-46.

         Exhibit A to Defendant's motion [Doc. #20] is the affidavit of Anthony Stewart. Mr. Stewart states that he was warden of the Cotton Facility at the time Plaintiff was housed there. Stewart Affidavit, ¶ 4. He states that as warden, he was not on medical staff, nor did his duties include recommending any course of action for medical diagnosis or treatment. Id. ¶ 5. He also states that he was not present in the gymnasium on October 21, 2017 when Plaintiff says that he was injured, nor was he asked to approve or deny any diagnostic tests or off-site medical care. Id. He states that any kite requesting medical care would be responded to by medical staff in Health Care Services, not the Warden's Office. Id. ¶ 6. Warden Stewart had no knowledge of Plaintiff's knee or leg injury. Id. ¶ 8. He also states that he did not initiate Plaintiff's transfer or otherwise request that it take place. Id.

         In his response [Doc. #23], Plaintiff argues that there remains a question of fact as to whether Warden Steward ordered his transfer, because he has not received a copy of the transfer order. The response also questions whether the Chippewa Facility was advised of Plaintiff's medical condition.[1]

         Attached to Defendant Stewart's reply brief [Doc. #26, Exhibit A] is Plaintiff's transfer order, dated October 19, 2017. It is signed by the facility's Transfer Coordinator and an Inspector, not by Warden Stewart.


         Summary judgment is appropriate where “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R.Civ.P. 56(c). To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party must show sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact. Klepper v. First American Bank, 916 F.2d 337, 341-42 (6th Cir. 1990). Drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party, the Court must determine “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 v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). Entry of summary judgment is appropriate “against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celetox Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). When the “record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, ” there is no genuine issue of material fact, and summary judgment is appropriate. Simmons-Harris v. Zelman, 234 F.3d 945, 951 (6th Cir. 2000).

         Once the moving party in a summary judgment motion identifies portions of the record which demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute over material facts, the opposing party may not then “rely on the hope that the trier of fact will disbelieve the movant's denial of a disputed fact, ” but must make an affirmative evidentiary showing to defeat the motion. Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1479 (6th Cir. 1989). The non-moving party must identify specific facts in affidavits, depositions or other factual material showing “evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the ...

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