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Curtis v. Lloyd

United States District Court, D. Colorado

September 17, 2019

WILLIAM CURTIS, Plaintiff,
v.
RENEE LLOYD, 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 (# 108), the Plaintiff's Response (# 117), and the Defendants' Reply (# 119). For the following reasons, the motion is denied.

         I. JURISDICTION

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

         II. BACKGROUND[1]

         Plaintiff William Curtis[2] was an inmate at the Fremont Correctional Facility within the purview of the Colorado Department of Corrections. In January 2015, Mr Curtis experienced a number of symptoms of diabetes, most notably a loss of almost 30 pounds in a period of two weeks. On February 7, 2015, a correctional officer noticed this extreme and rapid weight loss and requested that he be seen at the medical clinic. The next morning, on February 8, Mr. Curtis was seen at the Fremont medical clinic by Defendant Nurse Renee Lloyd and Nurse Practitioner Trudy Sicotte, Nurse Lloyd's supervisor. Despite exhibiting symptoms of diabetes keto-acidosis, Nurse Lloyd determined that Mr. Curtis was not experiencing a medical emergency and he was returned to his cell house without treatment. Later that day, he lost consciousness. NP Sicotte ordered that Mr. Curtis be transported to a nearby hospital.

         The Second Amended Complaint (# 43), alleges two Eighth Amendment violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Nurse Lloyd. It alleges that Nurse Lloyd (1) unreasonably delayed treatment and (2) unreasonably denied treatment. Nurse Lloyd moves for summary judgment on both claims (# 108).

         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

         Nurse Lloyd challenges both Mr. Curtis' ability to prove a prima facie case and invokes the doctrine of qualified immunity. The arguments overlap when the qualified immunity analysis is applied.

         Qualified immunity protects individual state actors from civil liability if their conduct “does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Messerschmidt v. Millender, 565 U.S. 535, 546 (2012). When a defendant asserts qualified immunity, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to: (1) show facts that “make out a violation of a constitutional right, ” and (2) establish that, at the time of the conduct at issue, it was clearly established under existing law that the defendant's conduct would breach a constitutional right. Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 232 (2009). The Court may address these questions in whichever order is best suited to the case. If the plaintiff fails to satisfy either prong of this inquiry, the Court “must grant the defendant qualified immunity.” Holland ex rel. Overdorff v. Harrington, 268 F.3d 1179, 1186 (10th Cir. 2001). However, if the ...


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