United States District Court, D. Colorado
RAYMOND P. MOORE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendants' motion for
summary judgment. (ECF No. 182.) Plaintiff, an inmate at the
Sterling Correctional Facility (“SCF”), brings
this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that
Defendants violated his Eight Amendment rights by providing
delayed and inadequate medical care after he broke his hip.
Defendants' motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for
review. (ECF Nos. 189, 193.) The Court grants the motion for
the reasons below.
proceeds pro se; therefore, the Court liberally construes his
pleadings. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21
(1972). But the Court does not act as his advocate. See
Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991).
judgment is appropriate only if there is no genuine dispute
of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Gutteridge v.
Oklahoma, 878 F.3d 1233, 1238 (10th Cir. 2018). Whether
there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact depends on
whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to
require submission to a jury or is so one-sided that one
party must prevail as a matter of law. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986);
Stone v. Autoliv ASP, Inc., 210 F.3d 1132, 1136
(10th Cir. 2000). “The mere existence of some
alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat
an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment;
the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of
material fact.” Scott v. Harris, 550
U.S. 372, 380 (2007) (quotation omitted). In analyzing a
motion for summary judgment, a court must view the evidence
and all reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party and resolve factual
ambiguities against the moving party, thus favoring the right
to a trial. Adler v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 144 F.3d
664, 670 (10th Cir. 1998); Houston v. Nat'l Gen. Ins.
Co., 817 F.2d 83, 85 (10th Cir. 1987).
immunity shields individual defendants named in § 1983
actions unless their conduct was unreasonable in light of
clearly established law. Estate of Booker v. Gomez,
745 F.3d 405, 411 (10th Cir. 2014). “[W]hen a defendant
asserts qualified immunity, the plaintiff carries a two-part
burden to show: (1) that the defendant's actions violated
a federal constitutional or statutory right, and, if so, (2)
that the right was clearly established at the time of the
defendant's unlawful conduct.” Id.
establish an Eighth Amendment claim for delayed or inadequate
medical care under § 1983, an inmate must establish that
prison officials were deliberately indifferent to his serious
medical needs. Oxendine v. Kaplan, 241 F.3d 1272,
1276 (10th Cir. 2001). “Deliberate indifference
involves both an objective and a subjective component.
Sealock v. Colorado, 218 F.3d 1205, 1209 (10th Cir.
2000). To satisfy the objective component, a medical need
must be either sufficiently serious that it has been
diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or so obvious
that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity
for a doctor's attention. Oxendine, 241 F.3d at
1276. For claims involving a delay in receiving medical care,
the plaintiff must show that the delay resulted in
substantial harm. Id. To satisfy the subjective
component, the plaintiff must show that the prison official
knew of and disregarded an excessive risk to his health or
safety by failing to take reasonable measures to abate it.
Id.; Sealock, 218 F.3d at 1209. For claims
involving failure to treat a serious medical condition
properly, a medical professional's mere negligence in
diagnosing or treating the condition does not constitute
deliberate indifference. Sealock, 218 F.3d at 1211
(citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105-06
9, 2015, Plaintiff had an epileptic seizure and fell,
injuring his right hip. He was taken by wheelchair to the
medical clinic, where he was seen by Defendant Larson.
Defendant Larson cleaned the gravel out of Plaintiff's
hand and elbow and then released him back to his unit.
Defendant contends that Defendant Larson refused to examine
his hip or order an x-ray and that she told him he would be
called back for a follow-up. He further contends that in
response to his complaint of intense pain in his leg
Defendant Larson told him to “walk it off, ”
exacerbating his injury and causing severe pain. (ECF No. 94,
Am. Compl. at 7, ¶ 3.)
the next four days, Plaintiff complained of severe pain to
nurses in the med-line. The med-line is where inmates receive
medications twice a day, and where Plaintiff received his
epilepsy medication. Although SCF regulations prohibit
inmates and staff from discussing medical issues in the
med-line, Plaintiff contends that he complained to the nurses
in the med-line because no one responded to his
“emergency kites, ” which are paper requests to
be seen by medical staff submitted by inmates. (Id.
at 8, ¶ 4.) Plaintiff further contends he was told by
the med-line nurses that he would be placed on an “on
call” list to receive medical care. (Id. at
¶¶ 4, 5.) Defendants Kier and Holter both worked in
the med-line during this time period, though the complaint
does not contain specific allegations as to either of them
with respect to their conduct in the med-line.
13, 2019, Plaintiff was seen again at the medical clinic,
this time by Defendant Dowis. She gave him a wheelchair and
told him he was on the list to receive an x-ray in two days.
The amended complaint alleges that she did not examine his
hip or take his vitals.
evening, Plaintiff declared an emergency and returned to the
medical clinic, where he was seen by Defendant Kier.
Plaintiff contends that Defendant Kier had a “hostile
attitude” and performed a “hurried
examination” without giving him anything for his pain.
(Id. at 10, ¶ 13.) He was then sent to the
reginal medical center.
events that occurred after Plaintiff left SCF are not
directly relevant, but they help provide context for
Plaintiff's claims. At the regional medical center, an
x-ray revealed that Plaintiff had a fractured hip. He was
then transferred to the hospital. There, Plaintiff contends
he fell while transitioning between a bed and a walker,
further exacerbating his injury. Plaintiff received a hip
replacement on June 16, 2015. A few days later, Plaintiff was
transferred to another facility while he recovered from his
surgery. He returned to SCF on August 11, 2015.
August 21, 2015, Plaintiff filed an informal grievance about
the medical care he received, followed by a step 1 grievance
on August 29. On November 12, 2019, he received a letter
stating that his grievance was untimely because it was not
filed within thirty days of the date he knew or should have
known of the facts giving rise to the grievance. (ECF No.
182-5.) The letter also stated that ...