United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION (GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY
E. Hudson Senior United States District Judge
Keith Smith, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and
in forma pauper is, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983
action. As pertinent here, Smith alleges that, while
incarcerated at Sussex II State Prison ("SIISP”)
Dr. Inder Gujral provided him with inadequate medical care
for Smith's chronic degenerative joint disease,
"which started in his knees, and has now spread to his
hips and lumbar." (Compl. 14.) Specifically, Smith contends
that Dr. Gujral provided inadequate medical care because:
Dr. Gujral incorrectly determined that Smith only had a mild
case of arthritis, which he treated with Motrin and Tylenol,
and, he waited more than a year and a half to refer Smith to
an outside specialist, (id. at 16-17); Claim 2 Dr.
Gujral denied Smith a "caretaker" inmate to push
Smith's wheelchair, (id.); and, Claim 3 Dr.
Gujral failed to order Smith a pair of knee braces
(id. at 17).
matter is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment
filed by Dr. Gujral. Smith has responded. For the reasons set
forth below, the Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 42)
will be granted.
STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
judgment must be rendered "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."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The party seeking summary judgment bears
the responsibility to inform the court of the basis for the
motion, and to identify the parts of the record which
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.
See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323
(1986). "[W]here the nonmoving party will bear the
burden of proof at trial on a dispositive issue, a summary
judgment motion may properly be made in reliance solely on
the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file." Id. at 324 (internal
quotation marks omitted). When the motion is properly
supported, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings
and, by citing affidavits or '"depositions, answers
to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate
'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial.'" Id. (quoting former Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c) and 56(e) (1986)).
reviewing a summary judgment motion, the court "must
draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the nonmoving
party." United States v. Carolina Transformer
Co., 978 F.2d 832, 835 (4th Cir. 1992) (citing
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255
(1986)). However, a mere scintilla of evidence will not
preclude summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251
(citing Improvement Co. v. Munson, 81 U.S. (14
Wall.) 442, 448 (1872)). "[T]here is a preliminary
question for the judge, not whether there is literally no
evidence, but whether there is any upon which a jury could
properly proceed to find a verdict for the party .. . upon
whom the onus of proof is imposed." Id.
(quoting Munson, 81 U.S. at 448). Additionally,
"Rule 56 does not impose upon the district court a duty
to sift through the record in search of evidence to support a
party's opposition to summary judgment." Forsyth
v. Barr, 19 F.3d 1527, 1537 (5th Cir. 1994) (quoting
Skotak v. Tenneco Resins, Inc., 953 F.2d 909, 915
n.7 (5th Cir. 1992)); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(3)
("The court need consider only the cited materials
support of his Motion for Summary Judgment, Dr. Gujral
submitted his own declaration ("Gujral Decl.," ECF
No. 43-2) and copies of Smith's medical records
("MR," ECF No. 43-1). Smith has opposed the Motion for
Summary Judgment by submitting his own affidavit ("Smith
Aff.," ECF No. 52-1).
course, the facts offered by affidavit or sworn declaration
must also be in the form of admissible evidence. See
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(4). In this regard, the statements in
the affidavit or sworn declaration "must be 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." Id.
Therefore, "summary judgment affidavits cannot be
conclusory or based upon hearsay." Evans, 80
F.3d at 962 (internal citations omitted).
has submitted a number of conclusory statements that run
afoul of these prohibitions. For example, Smith swears that
"SUSP fails to provide adequate medical care and that
Defendant Dr. Gujral is deliberately indifferent to this
failure." (Smith Aff. ¶ 13.) Conclusory assertions
of this ilk are irrelevant to the summary judgment analysis.
Evans, 80 F.3d at 962 (citations omitted).
Smith complains that "Dr. Gujral continued to prescribe
Plaintiff with anti-inflammatory medications, Motrin,
Tylenol, and etc., but Defendant Dr. Gujral directly knew
that Plaintiff is unable to take anti-inflammatory
medications, due to a[n] acid reflux condition and this is
indicated on the front cover of the medical charts along with
other allergies." (Smith Aff. ¶ 8.) This statement
suffers from a number of deficiencies. First, Smith fails to
state sufficient facts to indicate that he has personal
knowledge as to what is stated on the front cover of his
"medical charts." (Id.) Second,
Smith's medical records from his multiple trips to the
VCU Medical Center list his allergies and these records do
not indicate that he cannot take anti-inflammatory
medication. (See, e.g., MR 20, 41.) Third, Tylenol
is not anti-inflammatory medication. Fourth, Smith fails to state
any instance wherein he alerted Dr. Gujral that he was
allergic to any drugs prescribed by Dr. Gujral.
the Court notes that Smith's Affidavit contains a host of
complaints against the Virginia Department of Corrections and
other entities and persons who are not parties to this
action. (See, e.g.. Smith Aff. ¶¶ 12-27.)
These allegations are largely irrelevant to the Motion for
Summary Judgment filed by Dr. Gujral. the sole remaining
defendant before the Court.
light of the foregoing submissions and principles, the
following facts are established for the Motion for Summary
Smith's Interactions with Dr. Gujral
March of 2013 until August 23, 2016, Dr. Gujral served as the
Medical Director at SUSP. (Gujral Decl. ¶ 1
According to Dr. Gujral, he first encountered Smith on
September 23, 2014, in response to Smith's complaints of
leg pain. (Id. ¶ 5.) Dr. Gujral evaluated Smith
and made a request for a vascular clinic evaluation.
however, swears that his first encounter with Dr. Gujral was
on July 8, 2014. (Smith Aff. ¶ 4.) According to Smith,
he told Dr. Gujral that he was suffering from
"'severe, chronic degenerative joint disease
condition in both knees." (Id. ¶ 5.)
presented Dr. Gujral "with a copy of a MRI scan report,
from Dr. Graham, which clearly indicated that the right knee
has a tear of the meniscus, and the left knee [has] a complex
tear of the posterior horn of the medial meniscus."
(Id. ¶ 6.)
Dr. Gujral next saw Smith on January 21, 2015, Smith
"complained of leg, knee, and hip pain, and trouble
walking." (Gujral Decl. ¶ 6.) After evaluating
Smith, Dr. Gujral referred Smith for physical therapy,
recommended that he do exercises and ordered Tylenol for him.
contends that Dr. Gujral prescribed anti-inflammatory
medications, like Motrin for Smith, even though according to
Smith, Smith's medical chart reflected that Smith could
not take such medication because of his acid-reflux. (Smith
Aff. ¶ 8.)
Gujral ordered x-rays and later discussed them with Smith.
(Id.) During this discussion, Smith contends that
Dr. Gujral told Smith "that he only has a mild case of
arthritis." (Id.) Smith fails to provide any
date for when the x-rays were ordered and when the discussion
allegedly occurred. Nevertheless, the record indicates that
x-rays were ordered during Smith's meeting with Dr.
Gujral on March 10, 2015. (Gujral Decl. ¶ 7; MR 3.) On
that date, Smith was in a wheelchair complaining of back
pain. (Gujral Decl. ¶ 7.) Dr. Gujral ordered an x-ray of
Smith's back, hip, and knee and again referred Smith to
physical therapy. (Id.)
22, 2015, Smith saw medical personnel and complained that he
hit his head and knee after a fall on the way to a physical
therapy appointment. (MR 4.)
Gujral next saw Smith on August 18, 2015. (Gujral Aff. ¶
9.) Smith complained of back pain and spasms. (Id.)
Dr. Gujral evaluated Smith and recommended that Smith
"stay on his pain medicine and continue exercises."
(Id.) Dr. ...