United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division
PITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court are Plaintiff Bernell Jackson Quillens's
complaint [#1], Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
[#32], brief in support [#33] and appendix [#34],
Plaintiff's response [#36], and Defendants' reply
[#38]. Plaintiff filed his complaint pro se and paid the full
filing fee for this case. The Court subsequently appointed
counsel to represent Plaintiff.
OF THE CASE
time he filed his complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983, Plaintiff was confined in the Hays County Law
Enforcement Center. Plaintiff alleges in July 2016, while in
the Hays County Jail, he notified jail personnel he had a
cyst on his foot. Plaintiff was subsequently transferred to
the Gillespie County Jail for housing and then returned to
the Hays County Jail. After filing a grievance regarding the
lack of medical treatment for his cyst, Plaintiff was
allegedly told there was nothing that could be done and he
would have to wait until he was released from jail. Plaintiff
alleges surgery for his cyst, that later turned out to be
cancer, was delayed until May 2017. Plaintiff sues Hays
County Sheriff Gary Cutler, Gillespie County Sheriff Buddy
Mills, and Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Freytag. He seeks
damages in the amount of $1.6 million.
move for summary judgment. Initially, they argue
Plaintiff's claims brought against them in their official
capacities are barred by Eleventh Amendment immunity.
Alternatively, they argue Hays County and Gillespie County
are entitled to summary judgment because Plaintiff cannot
establish either county had an official policy, custom, or
practice that caused the alleged constitutional violation.
Defendants also assert their entitlement to qualified
immunity. They argue Defendants did not fail to treat
Plaintiff, Plaintiff's medical treatment was objectively
reasonable, and they were not deliberately indifferent to
Plaintiff's serious medical needs.
responds genuine issues of material fact exist precluding
summary judgment. Specifically, Plaintiff contends the
declaration that “There is nothing more we can
do” reflects a policy, custom or widespread practice at
Hays County. Plaintiff counters there were many reasonable
options for Hays County, including getting him to a physician
or hospital without undue delay. Plaintiff argues Hays
County's deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's
serious medical needs resulted in a significant delay in
treatment, unnecessary pain and suffering, serious bodily
harm, physical impairment, and disfigurement. With respect to
Gillespie County, Plaintiff responds Gillespie County has a
practice of transferring a prisoner known to be in need of
surgery to another jail irrespective of the seriousness of
the medical condition. Plaintiff contends his transfer to
Hays County delayed a necessary surgery resulting in
substantial harm. Plaintiff asserts Sheriffs Cutler and Mills
can be held individually liable for implementing the policies
and practices. Plaintiff denies the defendants are entitled
to qualified immunity.
Summary Judgment Standard
will, on a motion for summary judgment, render judgment if
the evidence shows that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a
judgment as a matter of law. Eason v. Thaler, 73
F.3d 1322, 1325 (5th Cir. 1996); Int'l Shortstop,
Inc. v. Rally's Inc., 939 F.2d 1257, 1263 (5th Cir.
1991), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 1059 (1992). When a
motion for summary judgment is made and supported, an adverse
party may not rest upon mere allegations or denials but must
set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for
trial. Ray v. Tandem Computers, Inc., 63 F.3d 429,
433 (5th Cir. 1995); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56.
movants and non-movants bear burdens of proof in the summary
judgment process. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317 (1986). The movant with the burden of proof at trial must
establish every essential element of its claim or affirmative
defense. Id. at 322. In so doing, the moving party
without the burden of proof need only point to the absence of
evidence on an essential element of the non-movant's
claims or affirmative defenses. Id. at 323-24. At
that point, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to
“produce evidence in support of its claims or
affirmative defenses . . . designating specific facts showing
that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id.
at 324. The non-moving party must produce “specific
facts” showing a genuine issue for trial, not mere
general allegations. Tubacex v. M/V Risan, 45 F.3d
951, 954 (5th Cir. 1995).
deciding whether to grant summary judgment, the Court should
view the evidence in the light most favorable to the party
opposing summary judgment and indulge all reasonable
inferences in favor of that party. The Fifth Circuit has
concluded “[t]he standard of review is not merely
whether there is a sufficient factual dispute to permit the
case to go forward, but whether a rational trier of fact
could find for the non-moving party based upon the evidence
before the court.” James v. Sadler, 909 F.2d
834, 837 (5th Cir. 1990) (citing Matsushita, 475
U.S. at 586)). To the extent facts are undisputed, a court
may resolve the case as a matter of law. Blackwell v.
Barton, 34 F.3d 298, 301 (5th Cir. 1994).
Eleventh Amendment Immunity
contend the claims brought against them in their official
capacities are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. The Eleventh
Amendment generally divests federal courts of jurisdiction to
entertain suits directed against states. Port Auth.
Trans-Hudson v. Feeney, 495 U.S. 299, 304 (1990). The
Eleventh Amendment may not be evaded by suing state agencies
or state employees in their official capacity because such an
indirect pleading remains in essence a claim upon the state
treasury. Green v. State Bar of Texas, 27 F.3d 1083,
1087 (5th Cir. 1994).
claims brought against the defendants in their official
capacities are directed at Hays County and Gillespie County,
not the State of Texas. As such, Eleventh ...