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Oslund v. Fauvel

United States District Court, D. Colorado

April 7, 2017

JAYSON M. OSLUND, Plaintiff,
v.
MAURICE FAUVEL, and C/O MULLEN, in their official and individual capacities, Defendants.

          ORDER

          Kathleen M Tafoya United States Magistrate Judge

         This case comes before the court on Defendants' “Combined Motion and Brief in Support of Summary Judgment” (Doc. No. 51 [Mot.], filed November 2, 2016). Plaintiff filed his response on December 12, 2016 (Doc. No. 55 [Resp.]), and Defendants filed their reply on December 30, 2016 (Doc. No. 58 [Reply]).

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, asserts claims for violations of his Eighth Amendment rights for the defendants' alleged failure to provide him proper medical care and use of excessive force. (See Doc. No. 6 [Compl.], filed May 7, 2015). At the time of the events in this case, Plaintiff was an inmate at the Sterling Correctional Facility (“SCF”) within the Colorado Department of Corrections (“CDOC”). (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff states Defendant Fauvel was assigned to be his primary medical care provider at SCF. (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges on March 7, 2013, he suffered a grand mal seizure. (Id.) As a result of the seizure, Plaintiff fell, was knocked unconscious, suffered a concussion, and required five stitches. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges Defendant Fauvel, who treated him after the seizure, failed to provide proper medical care by ordering Plaintiff to return to his cell following his first seizure, concussion, and head injury. (Id. at 6.)

         Later that day, Plaintiff suffered another seizure. (Id. at 7.) Plaintiff alleges his cellmate informed him that, during Plaintiff's second seizure, Defendant Mullen, “grabbed [Plaintiff] while [he] was seizing and convulsing, yelled at [him] to ‘Stop resisting', and then began slamming [his] head into the ground.” (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff states after the second seizure “[a]t some point [he] realized that [he] could not walk.” (Id.) Plaintiff states he has been immobile and has to use a wheelchair since his second seizure. (Id.)

         UNDISPUTED FACTS

         On the afternoon of March 7, 2013, Plaintiff was on the second tier of his living unit when he experienced a seizure, fell backwards, and hit his head on the concrete. (Mot., Ex. A [Oslund Dep.], 20:3-18; 22:10-18; 73:6-8.) Defendant Fauvel treated Plaintiff following the seizure. (Mot., Ex. G [Fauvel Aff.], ¶ 5.) Defendant Fauvel identified a laceration on Plaintiff's head about 3.5 cm in size and repaired it with five stitches. (Id. ¶ 7.) Defendant Fauvel also started Plaintiff on a medication to help control the seizures. (Id., ¶¶ 8, 17.) Officer Nathan Teter took Plaintiff back to his unit after he received medical treatment for the first seizure. (Mot., Ex. B [Teter Aff.], ¶ 3.)

         About fifteen to twenty minutes after Officer Teter returned Plaintiff to the living unit, Plaintiff had a second seizure. (Id., ¶ 4.) Officers Sherwood, Teter, Cook, Mullen, and Sergeant Munson were among the officers who responded. (Id. ¶ 5; Mot., Ex. C [Mullen Aff.], ¶ 3; Mot., Ex. D [Munson Aff.], ¶ 4; Mot., Ex. E [Cook Aff.], ¶ 4.) All of the officers were aware Plaintiff was experiencing a seizure. (Mullen Aff., ¶¶ 6-8; Munson Aff., ¶ 9; Cook Aff., ¶ 6.) Plaintiff's cellmate, Inmate Charles Garlick, was supporting Plaintiff's head. (Teter Aff., ¶ 6.) Plaintiff was incoherent and unaware of his surroundings. (Mullen Aff., ¶ 7.) At some point, Mr. Garlick was instructed to leave the cell. (Teter Aff., ¶ 9; Mullen Aff., ¶ 10; Munson Aff., ¶ 8; Cook Aff., ¶ 9.) Plaintiff was not conscious during the second seizure and has no recollection of what happened. (Oslund Dep. 13:12-24.)

         Plaintiff returned for medical treatment after having the second seizure. (Fauvel Aff., ¶ 10.) Defendant Fauvel ordered medication and checked Plaintiff's previous head wound for any further damage. (Id., ¶ 11.) Given that Plaintiff had experienced two seizures in one day, Defendant Fauvel ordered that Plaintiff be placed in observation segregation overnight as a precautionary measure. (Id., ¶ 11.) Following the seizure events on March 7, 2013, Defendant Fauvel began treating Plaintiff approximately every two weeks. (Id., ¶ 13.) At some point, Defendant Fauvel prescribed a wheelchair because of Plaintiff's complaints of balance problems and vertigo, which had developed after the seizures. (Id., ¶¶ 14, 17.) From March 11, 2013, through October 2014, when Defendant Fauvel left his employment at the CDOC, Defendant Fauvel ordered radiographs, CT scan, x-rays, and an MRI, all of which were read as “normal” (id., ¶¶ 15, 16, 19); ordered physical therapy to assist with Plaintiff's transition to a walker (id., ¶ 21); and continued to monitor and adjust Plaintiff's medication levels (id., ¶¶ 18, 25).

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment is appropriate 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 moving party bears the initial burden of showing an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). “Once the moving party meets this burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to demonstrate a genuine issue for trial on a material matter.” Concrete Works, Inc. v. City & Cnty. of Denver, 36 F.3d 1513, 1518 (10th Cir. 1994) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325). The nonmoving party may not rest solely on the allegations in the pleadings, but must instead designate “specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). A disputed 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 dispute is “genuine” if the evidence is such that it might lead a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Thomas v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 631 F.3d 1153, 1160 (10th Cir. 2011) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248).

         When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, a court may consider only admissible evidence. See Johnson v. Weld County, Colo., 594 F.3d 1202, 1209-10 (10th Cir. 2010). The factual record and reasonable inferences therefrom are viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment. Concrete Works, 36 F.3d at 1517. Moreover, because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the court, “review[s] his pleadings and other papers liberally and hold[s] them to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys.” Trackwell v. United States, 472 F.3d 1242, 1243 (10th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted); see also Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972) (holding allegations of a pro se complaint “to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers”). At the summary judgment stage of litigation, a plaintiff's version of the facts must find support in the record. Thomson v. Salt Lake Cnty., 584 F.3d 1304, 1312 (10th Cir. 2009). “When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007); Thomson, 584 F.3d at 1312.

         ANALYSIS

         1. Deliberate Indifference Claim Against Defendant Fauvel

         The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. U.S. Const. amend VIII. As such, it requires that “prison officials . . . ensure that inmates receive adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care, and [that they] must ‘take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates.'” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994) (citation omitted). The court's analysis of Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims involves both an objective and subjective component. Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298-99 (1991).

         As to the objective component, the court considers whether Plaintiff has been deprived of a sufficiently serious basic human need. “[A] medical need is considered ‘sufficiently serious' if the condition ‘has been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment . . . or is so obvious that even a lay person would easily recommend the necessity for a doctor's attention.' ” Oxendine v. Kaplan, 241 F.3d 1272, 1276 (10th Cir. 2001) (quoting Hunt v. Uphoff, 199 F.3d 1220, 1224 (10th Cir. 2001)).

         As to the subjective component of a deliberate indifference claim, the plaintiff must prove that the prison official “kn[ew] of and disregard[ed] an excessive risk to inmate health and safety.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. That is, “the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that ...


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