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Pettigrew v. Wexford Medical Services Doctor Stallworth Greg Flury, P.A.

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

December 16, 2013

MORRIS J. PETTIGREW, SR. #359809 Plaintiff.
v.
WEXFORD MEDICAL SERVICES DOCTOR STALLWORTH GREG FLURY, P.A. PHYSICIAN'S ASSISTANT (NAME UNKNOWN) Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

GEORGE L. RUSSELL, III, District Judge.

I. Background

On August 27, 2012, the Court received this 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 verified Complaint for injunctive relief and damages from Morris Pettigrew, Sr., an inmate currently housed at the Western Correctional Institution ("WCI") in Cumberland, Maryland. Plaintiff contends that in June of 2012, he was scheduled to see a physician's assistant ("PA") to obtain clearance to work in the dietary department. He claims that the PA diagnosed him with scoliosis[1] of the spine, but denied him all requested treatment, i.e. MRI, hospital visits, cane, and braces. Plaintiff claims that he was subsequently given a cane for one month, but no other treatment for his scoliosis, which he asserts has been getting progressively worse since 2010. ECF No. 1. He further claims that blood chemistry has indicated possible infections with hepatitis or lupus. Id.

Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment, which remains unopposed.[2] ECF No. 12. The matter is ripe for consideration and may be determined without a hearing. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011).

II. Standard of Review

Where a plaintiff proceeds without counsel, his filing is to be "liberally construed" and "held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus , 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble , 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).

Because matters outside the pleadings shall be considered, Defendants' Motion shall be treated as a motion for summary judgment. Summary judgment is governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), which provides: "The 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." The Supreme Court has clarified that this does not mean that any factual dispute will defeat the motion:

By its very terms, this standard provides that 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.

Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original).

The "party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of [his] pleadings, ' but rather must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Bouchat v. Balt. Ravens Football Club, Inc. , 346 F.3d 514, 525 (4th Cir. 2003) (alteration in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). The court should "view the evidence in the light most favorable to... the nonmovant, and draw all reasonable inferences in [his] favor without weighing the evidence or assessing the witness' credibility." Dennis v. Columbia Colleton Med. Ctr., Inc. , 290 F.3d 639, 644-45 (4th Cir. 2002). The court must, however, also abide by the "affirmative obligation of the trial judge to prevent factually unsupported claims and defenses from proceeding to trial." Bouchat , 346 F.3d at 526 (quoting Drewitt v. Pratt , 999 F.2d 774, 778-79 (4th Cir. 1993) (internal quotation marks omitted).

In Anderson, the Supreme Court explained that in considering a motion for summary judgment, the "judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson , 477 U.S. at 249. A dispute about a material fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id . at 248. Thus, "the judge must ask himself not whether he thinks the evidence unmistakably favors one side or the other but whether a fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the [nonmoving party] on the evidence presented." Id . at 252.

The moving party bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact. No genuine issue of material fact exists if the nonmoving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of his or her case as to which he or she would have the burden of proof. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Therefore, on the issues for which the nonmoving party has the burden of proof, it is his or her responsibility to confront the summary judgment motion with an affidavit or other similar evidence showing there is a genuine issue for trial. Although a party may not generally rest on his pleadings to create a fact issue sufficient to survive summary judgment, the facts alleged in a verified complaint need not be repeated in a responsive affidavit in order to survive a summary judgment motion. See Roberson v. Hayti Police Dep't. , 241 F.3d 992, 994-95 (8th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted).[3]

III. Discussion

A. Denial of Medical Care In reliance on excerpts from Plaintiff's medical record and ...


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