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Hockaday v. Christner

United States District Court, D. Colorado

June 26, 2019

DUMISAI H. HOCKADAY, Plaintiff,
v.
HELENE CHRISTNER, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          MARCIA S. KRIEGER, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (# 149), the Plaintiff's Response (# 153), and the Defendant's Reply (# 156); and the Plaintiff's “Motion Presenting Competing Expert Opinions Previously Submitted” (# 147), the Defendant's Response (# 150), and the Plaintiff's Reply (# 154). For the reasons that follow, the Motion for Summary Judgment is granted and the other Motion is denied as moot.

         I. JURISDICTION

         The Court exercises jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

         II. BACKGROUND[1]

         At all relevant times, Plaintiff Dumisai Hockaday was an inmate at the Sterling Correctional Facility, operated by the Colorado Department of Corrections. On July 29, 2016, Mr. Hockaday was attacked and injured by another inmate, suffering a broken right hand. He was treated by Nurse Nicole Stumpf at the Sterling clinic, who consulted via phone with Defendant Helene Christner, a nurse practitioner. Though NP Christner had the authority to refer inmates to a local emergency room, she did not refer Mr. Hockaday. As a result, Mr. Hockaday did not have a diagnostic radiology exam performed on his hand for 91 hours after the incident. He contends that the delay caused him excruciating pain, shortening and angulation of the bone, loss of grip strength, difficulty grasping, finger overlap, and stiffness.

         Following the Court's order (# 94) at the dismissal stage, the Amended Complaint (# 19) alleges one claim for a violation of Mr. Hockaday's Eighth Amendment rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. It alleges that NP Christner was deliberately indifferent to Mr. Hockaday's medical needs by delaying treatment. NP Christner now moves for summary judgment (# 149).

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure facilitates the entry of a judgment only if no trial is necessary. See White v. York Int'l Corp., 45 F.3d 357, 360 (10th Cir. 1995). Summary adjudication is authorized when there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and a party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Substantive law governs what facts are material and what issues must be determined. It also specifies the elements that must be proved for a given claim or defense, sets the standard of proof, and identifies the party with the burden of proof. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Kaiser-Francis Oil Co. v. Producer's Gas Co., 870 F.2d 563, 565 (10th Cir. 1989). A factual dispute is “genuine” and summary judgment is precluded if the evidence presented in support of and opposition to the motion is so contradictory that, if presented at trial, a judgment could enter for either party. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. When considering a summary judgment motion, a court views all evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, thereby favoring the right to a trial. See Garrett v. Hewlett Packard Co., 305 F.3d 1210, 1213 (10th Cir. 2002).

         If the movant has the burden of proof on a claim or defense, the movant must establish every element of its claim or defense by sufficient, competent evidence. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A). Once the moving party has met its burden, to avoid summary judgment the responding party must present sufficient, competent, contradictory evidence to establish a genuine factual dispute. See Bacchus Indus. Inc. v. Arvin Indus. Inc., 939 F.2d 887, 891 (10th Cir. 1991); Perry v. Woodward, 199 F.3d 1126, 1131 (10th Cir. 1999). If there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact, a trial is required. If there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, no trial is required. The court then applies the law to the undisputed facts and enters judgment.

         If the moving party does not have the burden of proof at trial, it must point to an absence of sufficient evidence to establish the claim or defense that the non-movant is obligated to prove. If the respondent comes forward with sufficient competent evidence to establish a prima facie claim or defense, a trial is required. If the respondent fails to produce sufficient competent evidence to establish its claim or defense, then the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         NP Christner moves for summary judgment on two grounds, first arguing that Mr. Hockaday did not exhaust his administrative remedies in CDOC's grievance process, and second arguing that there was no violation of Mr. ...


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