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Claiborne v. Singh Gujral

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

April 1, 2019

TYEL LAWSHAWN CLAIBORNE, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
INDER JEET SINGH GUJRAL, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Robert E. Payne, Senior United States District Judge.

         Tyel Lashawn Claiborne, Sr., a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action. In his "PARTICULARIZED COMPLAINT FOR CIVIL ACTION NUMBER 3:17CV556" ("Particularized Complaint," ECF No. 17), the Court construes Claiborne to allege that Dr. Inder Jeet Singh Gujral, a physician at Sussex II State Prison ("Sussex II"), denied him adequate medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment with respect to the removal of the cast on his broken foot. (Part. Compl. 1-2.)

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 28) filed by Dr. Gujral. Claiborne has filed a response to the Motion for Summary Judgment, entitled "Re: MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT" ("Response," ECF No. 34). For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the Motion for Summary Judgment and will dismiss the action.

         I. SUMMARY OF CLAIBORNE'S CLAIM

         Claiborne contends that Dr. Gujral denied him adequate medical care with respect to his broken foot.[1] Claiborne faults Dr. Gujral because, upon Claiborne's insistence that Dr. Gujral remove the cast because Claiborne believed it had gotten wet and mildewed, Dr. Gujral removed the cast, and thereafter, refused to place a new cast on Claiborne's foot. (Part Compl. 1-2.) 'Claiborne asked for a foot brace, but Dr. Gujral gave him ace bandages instead. Claiborne contends that due to Dr. Gujral's refusal to recast Claiborne's foot, his foot healed "irregularly and [he] now [has] a permanent limp." (Id. at 2.) As relief, Claiborne seeks monetary damages. (Id. at 3.)

         II. STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

         Summary 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)).

         In 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 (1871)). "'[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.7" 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 . . . .").

         In support of his Motion for Summary Judgment, Dr. Gujral has submitted his own declaration (Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. A ("Gujral Decl."), ECF No. 29-1), and Claiborne's medical records (ECF Nos. 29-2, 29-3). As a general rule, a non-movant must respond to a motion for summary judgment with affidavits or other verified evidence. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324. Although, Claiborne filed a response, he has not cited any evidence that he wishes the Court to consider in opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgment. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3) (emphasizing that Mt]he court need consider only the cited materials" in deciding a motion for summary judgment).[2] Therefore, the Court may rely solely on Dr. Gujral's declaration and the supporting medical records in deciding the Motion for Summary Judgment. See Forsyth v. Barr, 19 F.3d 1527, 1537 (5th Cir. 1994) (“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.'" (quoting Skotak v. Tenneco Resins, Inc., 953 F.2d 909, 915 & n.7 (5th Cir. 1992))).

         Accordingly, the following facts are established for the Motion for Summary Judgment. The Court draws all permissible inferences in favor of Claiborne.

         III. UNDISPUTED FACTS

         A. Claiborne's Interactions With Dr. Gujral

         Dr. Gujral was employed as the medical director at Sussex II from March 2013 until August 23, 2016. Dr. Gujral is a board-certified physician and due to extensive training and experience in orthopedics, is board-eligible in orthopedic surgery. (Gujral Decl. ¶¶ 1, 3.) Claiborne has a history of foot pain that predates the incident that gave rise to this action. (Id. ¶¶ 5-7.)

         On July 20, 2016, Dr. Gujral examined Claiborne's right foot. (Id. ¶ 9.) Claiborne indicated that he injured the foot when he fell playing basketball in the recreation yard. (Id.) Dr. Gujral observed swelling on the outer side of the foot with accompanying tenderness, and an X-ray "demonstrated a displaced fracture at the base of 5th metatarsal." (Id.) Dr. Gujral placed a short cast on Claiborne's foot “to immobilize the fracture, provided instructions to [Claiborne] regarding cast care and ambulation with crutches, prescribed ibuprofen for pain, and ordered [Claiborne] be placed in the [Sussex II] infirmary on 23-hour observation to confirm [Claiborne] was keeping the right leg elevated and doing well with the treatment . . . ." (Id.) Dr. Gujral ordered a follow-up appointment in one week. (Id.)

         On July 21, 2016, Claiborne was evaluated by a different healthcare provider who instructed Claiborne to keep the follow-up appointment in one week, to "keep the cast dry at all times, to use a black plastic bag to cover the cast when showering, use crutches and continue with no weight bearing on the effected extremity." (Id. ¶ 10.) Claiborne was discharged back to general population. (Id.)

         On July 27, 2016, Dr. Gujral saw Claiborne for the follow-up appointment. (Id. ¶ 11.) Claiborne complained of foot pain; however, an examination revealed the cast was intact and his foot was not swollen. (Id.) Dr. Gujral advised Claiborne to continue to use crutches and begin partial weight bearing on his foot, prescribed additional ibuprofen to treat Claiborne's discomfort, and ordered that Claiborne be scheduled for a follow-up appointment ...


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