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Young v. Department of Corrections

United States District Court, D. Maine

July 17, 2017

JEREMIAH YOUNG, Plaintiff
v.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants

          DECISION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          John C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge.

         In this action, Plaintiff alleges Defendants were deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of serious harm to him when they failed to protect him from an assault by another inmate.

         The matter is before the Court on Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment. (ECF No. 37.) Through their motion, Defendants argue that Plaintiff did not experience more than a de minimis physical injury and, therefore, Plaintiff cannot recover damages for mental or emotional pain and suffering. Defendants further argue that Plaintiff cannot recover money damages from Defendant Maine Department of Corrections through a civil action filed in this Court.

         Following a review of the summary judgment record and after consideration of the parties' arguments, the Court grants in part Defendant's motion and dismisses Plaintiff's claim against the Maine Department of Corrections.

         Summary Judgment Record[1]

         Plaintiff Jeremiah Young, a prisoner incarcerated at the Maine State prison, was injured in an assault by another inmate on July 5, 2016. According to Plaintiff, as a result of the assault, in addition to the physical injuries he suffered, he has “suffered a great deal” and has nightmares all the time. Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages. (Defendants' Statement of Material Facts ¶ 1, ECF No. 38.)

         Plaintiff was examined by the prison's medical department immediately after the assault. The medical record reflects Plaintiff suffered abrasions to the left ear, the left corner of the left eye, the right temple, and the upper lip. In addition, Plaintiff sustained a bite wound on two fingers. The wound on one finger was closed with three steri-strips and the other wound only required cleaning. (Id. ¶ 2.) Plaintiff was seen in follow-up the next day for a bandage change. At that time, a nurse noted swelling and bruising of a finger and recommended ice. (Id. ¶ 3.)

         Three days after the incident (July 8, 2016), although the bite wound appeared to be healing well, because of a question regarding possible tendon damage to or a fracture of one of the fingers, an x-ray was ordered. (Id. ¶ 4.) The x-ray showed a “transverse, minimally displaced fracture” to one of Plaintiff's fingers. (Id. ¶ 5.) Plaintiff was provided a splint and the finger was taped to an adjacent finger. (Id. ¶ 6.) Plaintiff's finger was still swollen and painful one month later, though it retained sensation and circulation. (Id.)

         Discussion

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         “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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “After the moving party has presented evidence in support of its motion for summary judgment, ‘the burden shifts to the nonmoving party, with respect to each issue on which he has the burden of proof, to demonstrate that a trier of fact reasonably could find in his favor.'” Woodward v. Emulex Corp., 714 F.3d 632, 637 (1st Cir. 2013) (quoting Hodgens v. Gen. Dynamics Corp., 144 F.3d 151, 158 (1st Cir. 1998)).

         A court reviews the factual record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, resolving evidentiary conflicts and drawing reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. Hannon v. Beard, 645 F.3d 45, 47 - 48 (1st Cir. 2011). If the court's review of the record reveals evidence sufficient to support findings in favor of the non-moving party on one or more of her claims, a trial-worthy controversy exists and summary judgment must be denied to the extent there are supported claims. Unsupported claims are properly dismissed. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986) (“One of the principal purposes of the summary judgment rule is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims or defenses.”).

         B. Analysis

         Defendants argue they are entitled to summary judgment to the extent Plaintiff seeks to recover for mental or emotional injury and to the extent Plaintiff attempts to ...


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