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Webb v. Delaney

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 11, 2016

ERIC WEBB, Plaintiff,
v.
STERLING CORRECTIONAL OFFICER DELANEY, STERLING CORRECTIONAL OFFICER WALRAVEN, Defendants.

ORDER

R. Brooke Jackson, United States District Judge

This matter is before the Court on defendants’ Motions for Summary Judgment [ECF Nos. 66 and 67] and defendant Delaney’s Motion to Strike Plaintiff’s Expert Witnesses and Motion in Limine [ECF Nos. 80 and 87]. The motions are ripe for review.

I. FACTS

Plaintiff Eric Webb is a prisoner in the custody of the Colorado Department of Corrections. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 1. He was incarcerated at the Sterling Correctional Facility in Sterling, Colorado at all times relevant to this dispute. Id. at ¶ 24. This case arises out of two incidents. The first incident took place on June 18, 2012. ECF No. 72-1 at 27:2-20. Webb jokingly wore his oversized orange pants in a way that resembled a dress. Id. Other inmates started to laugh, and as a result, defendant Correctional Officer Christopher Delaney ordered Webb to “cuff up.” Id. at 27:19-28:11. Webb turned around and placed his hands behind his back. Id. at 28:12-19. Webb claims that Delaney intentionally handcuffed him too tightly and twisted his wrists in a manner in which Delaney knew would injure his right arm. Id. at 28:16- 30:7, 70:1-4. Following his encounter with Delaney, Webb was placed in segregation for the night. He complained to the guards repeatedly because his right wrist “hurt the whole time” and “was swelling.” Id. at 43:2-25. The following day Webb was transferred to the emergency room at Sterling Regional Medcenter. ECF No. 72-3. Medical staff noted that Webb’s arm was swollen and bruised with “impending compartment syndrome.” Id. The emergency room doctor, Dr. Fenton, performed a fasciotomy of Webb’s right hand and forearm. Id.

The second incident occurred on September 18, 2012. ECF No. 73-1 at 86:11-12. Because Webb was “acting out, ” defendant Correctional Officer John Walraven ordered Webb to “turn around” and “cuff up.” Id. at 88:8-11; ECF No. 73-5. In anticipation of being handcuffed, Webb warned Walraven that his right arm was injured. ECF No. 73-1 at 88:12-13. When Walraven allegedly tried to “slap” the handcuff on Webb’s left arm, Webb turned around and brought his arm back as if he intended to punch Walraven. Id. at 89:1-10. Several staff members ran over to help Officer Walraven. ECF No. 73-1 at 89:12-14, 91:18-21. They were able to push Webb up against a wall and handcuff him. ECF No. 66-2 (original surveillance video). The following day Webb was transported to the emergency room at Sterling Memorial Medcenter to receive treatment for pain and swelling of his right wrist. ECF No. 73-5.

On May 23, 2014 Webb filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 arguing that defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights. ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 52-57. The Court subsequently granted the parties’ joint motion to dismiss ten named and two unnamed defendants. ECF No. 62. Additionally, the Court granted in part defendants’ motion to dismiss, dismissing Webb’s claims against all but two defendants. ECF No. 63. Delaney and Walraven are the remaining defendants in this case. Id. at 12. Webb retains his excessive force claim against Delaney and Walraven and his deliberate indifference claim against Delaney. Id. Delaney and Walraven now move for summary judgment. ECF Nos. 66, 67. Delaney also moves to strike Webb’s expert witnesses for untimely and insufficient disclosure. ECF No. 80. Furthermore, Delaney moves to exclude evidence relating to Webb’s 2013 injuries that were caused by incidents at other facilities and Webb’s deliberate indifference claim. ECF No. 87. The Court will address each motion in turn.

II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

The Court may grant summary judgment if “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 moving party has the burden to show that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party’s case. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). The nonmoving party must “designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. at 324. A fact is material “if under the substantive law it is essential to the proper disposition of the claim.” Adler v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 144 F.3d 664, 670 (10th Cir. 1998) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A material fact is genuine if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The Court will examine the factual record and make reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment. Concrete Works of Colorado, Inc. v. City & Cnty. of Denver, 36 F.3d 1513, 1517 (10th Cir. 1994).

III. QUALIFIED IMMUNITY

The qualified immunity doctrine “shields government officials performing discretionary functions from liability for damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Toevs v. Reid, 685 F.3d 903, 909 (10th Cir. 2012) (internal quotations and citations omitted). When the defendant asserts a qualified immunity “defense, ” the summary judgment standard is subject to a “somewhat different analysis from other summary judgment rulings.” Steffey v. Orman, 461 F.3d 1218, 1221 (10th Cir. 2006).

By asserting the doctrine of qualified immunity, a defendant “trigger[s] a well-settled twofold burden” that the plaintiff is “compelled to shoulder.” Cox v. Glanz, 800 F.3d 1231, 1245 (10th Cir. 2015). The burden shifts to the plaintiff to show (1) “that the defendant’s actions violated a specific statutory or constitutional right, ” and (2) that the right was “clearly established at the time of the conduct at issue.” Steffey, 461 F.3d at 1221. Courts have discretion to address either prong of this standard first. Cox, 800 F.3d at 1246. “In determining whether a plaintiff has carried its two-part burden . . . ordinarily courts must adopt plaintiff's version of the facts.” Thomson v. Salt Lake Cnty., 584 F.3d 1304, 1325 (10th Cir. 2009) (Holmes, J., concurring) (internal quotations and citations omitted). However, “plaintiff's version of the facts must find support in the record[.]” Id.

“It is only after plaintiff crosses the legal hurdle comprised of his or her two-part burden of demonstrating the violation of a constitutional right that was clearly established, that courts should be concerned with the true factual landscape[.]” Id. (emphasis in original). Considering the true factual landscape, “courts should determine whether defendant can carry the traditional summary judgment burden of establishing that there are no genuine issues of material fact for jury resolution and that defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Id. at 1326.

IV. ANALYSIS

A. Delaney’s Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 67]

Webb claims that Delaney used excessive force against him and was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 54, 55. Delaney contends that summary judgment is appropriate because, as a matter of law, Webb cannot (1) establish that Delaney used excessive force or was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs; (2) prove that Delaney’s conduct caused his injury; or (3) carry his burden to overcome Delaney’s assertion of qualified immunity. ECF No. 67. For the reasons discussed below, Delaney’s motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part.

1. Deliberate Indifference

In Webb’s response to Delaney’s motion for summary judgment he fails to respond to any of Delaney’s arguments with respect to the deliberate indifference claim. See ECF No. 72. He has failed to “designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Celotex, 477 ...


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