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Floyd v. Johnson

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Tyler Division

June 15, 2018

RANDAL FLOYD, #1705513


          Ron Clark, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Randal Floyd, an inmate confined at the Coffield Unit of the Texas prison system, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed the above-styled and numbered civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The complaint was referred to United States Magistrate Judge John D. Love, who issued a Report and Recommendation (Dkt. #60) concluding that Dr. John Morgan's motion for summary judgment (Dkt. #55) should be granted. Mr. Floyd has filed objections (Dkt. #61). After conducting a de novo review of the record, the pleadings, and the paper on file, the court concludes that Mr. Floyd's objections lack merit and Dr. Morgan's motion for summary judgment should be granted.


         Mr. Floyd complains he has been denied dentures, and he wants the court to compel the defendants to provide him with dentures. The sole remaining defendant is Dr. Morgan, a dentist. The competent summary judgment evidence reveals that Dr. Morgan examined Mr. Floyd on one occasion on August 1, 2016. See Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. #55), Exhibit A, pages 25-26. Dr. Morgan determined that Mr. Floyd's lower gums were infected. To treat the infection, Dr. Morgan prescribed antibiotics and concluded that the remnants of Mr. Floyd's bottom teeth would need to be extracted to prevent further infection and improve his oral hygiene. Dr. Morgan found that, pursuant to CMHC Policy E-36.4(I)(D), Mr. Floyd was not a viable candidate for dental prosthetics until the infection in his gum tissue was resolved. He concluded that Mr. Floyd did not meet the criteria of medical necessity to be issued dental prosthetics.

         Mr. Floyd was scheduled to have the remnants of his bottom teeth extracted. The extraction was to occur on November 16, 2016. Dr. Michael R. Johnson, another dentist, wrote that Mr. Floyd “arrived at the clinic and immediately decided to refuse exam or treatment.” See Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, Exhibit A, page 62.

         Magistrate Judge Love found that the competent summary judgment evidence does not support an inference of deliberate indifference, that Dr. Morgan is entitled to dismissal based on qualified immunity, and that Mr. Floyd has not shown that Dr. Morgan is able to provide the relief sought in this case. Mr. Floyd has filed objections.

         Standard of Review

         A “court shall grant summary judgment 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 for summary judgment has the burden of proving the lack of a genuine dispute as to all the material facts. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Galindo v. Precision Am. Corp., 754 F.2d 1212, 1221-23 (5th Cir. 1985).

         In deciding a motion for summary judgment, a court must make a threshold inquiry in determining whether there is a need for a trial. “In other words, whether there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). “[T]he 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.” Id. at 247-48.

         If the movant satisfies its initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a material fact dispute, then the non-movant must identify specific evidence in the summary judgment record demonstrating that there is a material fact dispute concerning the essential elements of its case for which it will bear the burden of proof at trial. Douglass v. United Servs. Auto. Ass'n, 79 F.3d 1415, 1429 (5th Cir. 1996). The non-movant cannot survive a motion for summary judgment by resting on the allegations in his pleadings. Isquith v. Middle South Utilities, Inc., 847 F.2d 186, 199 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 926 (1988). Rather, he must direct the court's attention to evidence in the record sufficient to establish that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. To carry this burden, the non-movant must present evidence sufficient to support a resolution of the factual disputes in his favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 257. The non-movant must submit competent summary judgment evidence sufficient to defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment. See, e.g., Burleson v. Texas Dep't of Criminal Justice, 393 F.3d 577, 589-90 (5th Cir. 2004); Domino v. Texas Dep't of Criminal Justice, 239 F.3d 752, 755 (5th Cir. 2001). All reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the non-moving party, but the non-moving party “cannot defeat summary judgment with conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or ‘only a scintilla of evidence.'” Hathaway v. Bazany, 507 F.3d 312, 319 (5th Cir. 2007); Miller v. Graham, 447 F. App'x. 549, 551 (5th Cir. 2011).


         1. Deliberate Indifference

         Deliberate indifference to a prisoner's serious medical needs constitutes an Eighth Amendment violation and states a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105-07 (1976); Jackson v. Cain, 864 F.2d 1235, 1244 (5th Cir. 1989). In Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 835 (1994), the Supreme Court noted that deliberate indifference involves more than just mere negligence. The Court concluded that “a prison official cannot be found liable under the Eighth Amendment . . . unless the official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; . . . the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.” Id. at 837.

         The Fifth Circuit discussed the high standard involved in showing ...

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