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Cox v. Hartshorn

August 24, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael P. Mccuskey Chief United States District Judge


Before the court is the defendants' unopposed summary judgment motion [29].


Summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show 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." Fed. R. Civ. P.56(c); Outlaw v. Newkirk, 259 F.3d 833, 837 (7th Cir. 2001), citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Herman v. National Broadcasting Co., Inc., 744 F.2d 604, 607 (7th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1028 (1985). In determining whether factual issues exist, the court must view all the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Beraha v. Baxter Health Corp., 956 F.2d 1436, 1440 (7th Cir. 1992). Further, this burden can be satisfied by "'showing'--that is, pointing out to the district court--that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. If such a showing is made, the burden shifts to the non-movant to "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Outlaw, 259 F.3d at 837. A nonmoving party cannot rest on its pleadings, but must demonstrate that there is admissible evidence that will support its position. Tolle v. Carroll Touch, Inc., 23 F.3d 174, 178 (7th Cir. 1994). Credibility questions "defeat summary judgment only '[w]here an issue as to a material fact cannot be resolved without observation of the demeanor of witnesses in order to evaluate their credibility.'" Outlaw, 259 F.3d at 838, citing Advisory Committee Notes, 1963 Amendment to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(other citations omitted).

Fed. Rule Civ. Pro. Rule 56(c) "mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party there is no 'genuine' issue for trial." Mechnig v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 864 F.2d 1359 (7th Cir. 1988). A "metaphysical doubt" will not suffice. Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Disputed facts are material only if they might affect the outcome of the suit. First Ind. Bank v. Baker, 957 F.2d 506, 507-08 (7th Cir. 1992). The mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, *247-248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510 (1986).


The plaintiff, Aaron D. Cox alleges in this lawsuit that he was denied proper medical care at the Vermilion County Jail, in violation of his constitutional rights. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that he filed a number of medical requests for treatment for a rash on his left foot before he was seen by the jail nurse and that the nurse was negligent in prescribing treatment that did not work for his condition. The plaintiff brings a claim for money damages pursuant to 42 USC Section 1983 against defendants Patrick Hartshorn, the Vermilion County Sheriff, and Lynn Galloway, the jail nurse.

The defendants argue that they are entitled to summary judgment because there is no evidence that plaintiff's medical need was sufficiently serious or that defendants were deliberately indifferent to that need. The defendants assert that Galloway provided medical treatment for the rash on plaintiff's foot. Further, the defendants assert that Hartshorn was not personally involved in plaintiff's medical treatment and plaintiff did not address any medical requests to or ever speak with defendant Hartshorn about his medical issues. Further, the defendants argue that the plaintiff has not shown that a custom, practice or policy existed that caused his constitutional injury.

Undisputed Material Facts*fn1

1. From October 4, 2005, until April 3, 2006, Plaintiff Aaron Cox was a pretrial detainee in the Vermilion County Jail. He is currently incarcerated at the Hill Correctional Center (Cox Dep. pp. 5-10), Exhibit A).

2. Patrick Hartshorn is the Vermilion County Sheriff (Hartshorn Aff., para. 1, attached as Exhibit B).

3. Lynn Galloway is a nurse at the Vermilion County Jail (Galloway Aff., para. 1, attached as Exhibit C).

4. The plaintiff noticed that his left foot was inflamed a couple of weeks after coming to the jail. The plaintiff also noticed itchy, rash-like bumps in a little circle on the inside of his left foot. The bumps would bleed when the plaintiff scratched his foot. (Ex. A, Cox Dep., pp. 11, 21-23).

5. The plaintiff filled out an inmate request form on October 17, 2005. He requested medical attention, but did not indicate on the request the condition for which he required attention. The plaintiff stuck the request form through his cell door to be picked up by a wing officer after lockdown. (Id., pp. 11-15).

6. A couple of days after submitting the written request, the plaintiff spoke with a correctional officer in the control booth. This officer told the plaintiff that the nurse's office was crowded and that the nurse was seeing people ...

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