Case 2:12-cv-00047-MTP Document 47 Filed 07/30/13 Page 1 of 13
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
CHARLES J. MCGRIGGS
CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:12cv47-MTP
MIKE HADDEN, ET AL.
OPINION AND ORDER
THIS MATTER is before the court on the Motions for Summary Judgment   filed
by Defendants Mike Hadden, Dr. Ron Woodall, and Dr. Michael West and on the Motion for
Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiff. Having reviewed the submissions of the parties and the
applicable law, the court finds that the Defendants’ Motions for Summary Judgment should be
granted and Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment should be denied.
Plaintiff Charles J. McGriggs, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed his
Complaint  pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on March 20, 2012. Through his complaint, and as
clarified during his Spears1 hearing, Plaintiff alleges claims against Defendant Dr. Michael West
for the denial and/or delay of adequate medical treatment in violation of the Eighth Amendment
and alleges claims against Defendants Dr. Ronald Woodall and Mike Hadden for the failure to
adequately investigate the situation and ensure that he received appropriate medical attention.
See Omnibus Order . The allegations in Plaintiff’s complaint occurred while he was a post-
1 Spears v. McCotter, 766 F.2d 179 (5th Cir. 1985). Plaintiff’s Spears hearing took place
on December 4, 2012.
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conviction inmate at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution (“SMCI”). Plaintiff is
currently incarcerated at the SMCI serving a 18-year sentence after having been convicted of
rape in Warren County. Plaintiff’s tentative release date is August 20, 2022.2
STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
This court may grant summary judgment only if, viewing the facts in a light most
favorable to Plaintiff, the Defendants demonstrate that there is no genuine issue of material fact
and that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Woods v. Smith, 60 F.3d 1161, 1164
(5th Cir. 1995). If the Defendants fail to discharge the burden of showing the absence of a
genuine issue concerning any material fact, summary judgment must be denied. John v.
Louisiana, 757 F.2d 698, 708 (5th Cir. 1985). The existence of an issue of material fact is a
question of law that this court must decide, and in making that decision, it must “draw inferences
most favorable to the party opposing the motion, and take care that no party will be improperly
deprived of a trial of disputed factual issues.” Id at 712.
There, however, must be adequate proof in the record showing a real controversy
regarding material facts. “Conclusory allegations,”3 unsubstantiated assertions,4 or the presence
of a “scintilla of evidence,”5 is not enough to create a real controversy regarding material facts.
“[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
2 See http://www.mdoc.state.ms.us/InmateDetails.asp?PassedId=K0205 (last visited
3 Lujan v. Nat’l Wildlife Fed’n, 497 U.S. 871, 902 (1990)
4 Hopper v. Frank, 16 F.3d 92, 96-97 (5th Cir. 1994)
5 Davis v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc., 14 F.3d 1082, 1086 (5th Cir. 1994)
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genuine issue of material fact.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).
In the absence of proof, the court does not “assume that the nonmoving party could or would
prove the necessary facts.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994)
Plaintiff’s claims are before the court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983
“neither provides a general remedy for the alleged torts of state officials nor opens the federal
courthouse doors to relieve the complaints of all who suffer injury at the hands of the state or its
officers.” White v. Thomas, 660 F.2d 680, 683 (5th Cir. 1981). Rather, “[i]t affords a remedy
only to those who suffer, as a result of state action, deprivation of ‘right, privileges, or
immunities secured by the Constitution and laws’ of the United States.” Id. (quoting 42 U.S.C. §
It is well-settled that Section 1983 does not “create supervisory or respondeat superior
liability.” Oliver v. Scott, 276 F.3d 736, 742 & n.6 (5th Cir. 2002); see also Thompkins v. Belt,
828 F.2d 298, 304 (5th Cir. 1987) (“Under § 1983, supervisory officials cannot be held liable for
the actions of subordinates under any theory of vicarious liability.”) (citations omitted). “To
state a cause of action under § 1983, the plaintiff must allege facts reflecting the defendants’
participation in the alleged wrong, specifying the personal involvement of each defendant.”
Jolly v. Klein, 923 F. Supp. 931, 943 (S.D. Tex. 1996) (citing Murphy v. Kellar, 950 F.2d 290,
292 (5th Cir. 1992)). Thus, supervisory prison officials may be held liable for a Section 1983
violation only if they either were personally involved in the constitutional deprivation or if there
is a “sufficient causal connection between the supervisor’s wrongful conduct and the
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constitutional violation.” Thompkins, 828 F.2d at 304; see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
676 (2009) (“Because vicarious liability is inapplicable to Bivens and § 1983 suits, a plaintiff
must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official's own individual
actions, has violated the Constitution.”).
Moreover, “[f]or purposes of liability, a suit against a public official in his official
capacity is in effect a suit against the local government entity he represents.” Mairena v. Foti,
816 F.2d 1061, 1064 (5th Cir. 1987) (citations omitted). The Supreme Court has held that in
order for a local governmental entity to have liability under Section 1983, a plaintiff must prove
that a policy, custom, or practice of that local government entity was the “moving force” behind
the constitutional violation. Monell v. Dep’t of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978).
Denial of Adequate Medical Care
Plaintiff alleges a claim against the Defendants for the denial and /or delay of adequate
medical treatment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Specifically, he claims he was denied
adequate medical treatment by Dr. West for his broken top partial dental plate.
“Prison officials violate the constitutional proscription against cruel and unusual
punishment when they are deliberately indifferent to a prisoner’s serious medical needs, as doing
so constitutes unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.” Davidson v. Texas Dep’t of Criminal
Justice, 91 Fed. App’x 963, 964 (5th Cir. 2004) (citing Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 297
(1991)). Deliberate indifference “is an extremely high standard to meet.” Gobert v. Caldwell,
463 F.3d 339, 346 (5th Cir. 2006) (quoting Domino v. Texas Dep’t of Criminal Justice, 239 F.3d
752, 756 (5th Cir. 2001)). The test for establishing deliberate indifference is “one of subjective
recklessness as used in the criminal law.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994). A
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prison official may not be held liable under this standard pursuant to Section 1983 unless the
plaintiff alleges facts which, if true, would establish that 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 838. Plaintiff must “submit evidence that prison officials ‘refused to treat him,
ignored his complaints, intentionally treated him incorrectly, or engaged in any other similar
conduct that would clearly evince a wanton disregard for any serious medical needs.” Davidson,
91 Fed. App’x at 965 (quoting Domino, 239 F.3d at 756). “[D]elay in medical care can only
constitute an Eighth Amendment violation if there has been deliberate indifference, which results
in substantial harm.” Mendoza v. Lynaugh, 989 F.2d 191, 195 (5th Cir. 1993).
Negligent conduct by prison officials does not rise to the level of a constitutional
violation. Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 333-34 (1986). The Plaintiff is not entitled to the
“best” medical treatment available. McMahon v. Beard, 583 F.2d 172, 174 (5th Cir. 1978); Irby
v. Cole, No. 4:03cv141-WHB-JCS, 2006 WL 2827551, at *7 (S.D. Miss. Sept. 25, 2006).
Further, a prisoner’s “disagreement with medical treatment does not state a claim for Eighth
Amendment indifference to medical needs.” Norton v. Dimazana, 122 F.3d 286, 292 (5th Cir.
The record reflects that Plaintiff received regular treatment for his dental issues. He first
received a top partial dental plate (“partial”) while he was incarcerated at the Mississippi State
Penitentiary in Parchman. On June 2, 2009, Plaintiff submitted a sick call because his “partial
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broke again.”6 Dr. Jeremy Hardy repaired the partial on June 10, 2009. On August 20, 2009,
Plaintiff submitted a sick call regarding another break in his partial. On September 4, 2009, Dr.
Hardy ordered Plaintiff a new partial because the partial was “broken in area of multiple
previous repairs and metal reinforcement.” See Ex. A to Motion  at 10; Ex. A  to Motion
 at 5-9.
On September 25, 2009, Plaintiff received his new partial. On January 6, 2010, Plaintiff
submitted a sick call because the teeth were broken off his partial. On January 7, 2010, Dr.
Hardy replaced the teeth in the partial. On October 18, 2010, Plaintiff submitted a sick call
relating to another broken tooth in his partial. On October 21, 2010, Dr. Glenn Hendrix
smoothed the edge of the broken denture tooth. See Ex. A  to Motion  at 10-17.
On September 13, 2011, Plaintiff submitted a sick call because his partial broke yet
again. On September 22, 2011, Dr. West recommended extracting Plaintiff’s remaining top teeth
and providing him with a full upper denture. Plaintiff did not agree with Dr. West’s
recommendations and refused this course of treatment. In fact, the Plaintiff signed a refusal of
treatment form. Plaintiff requested that his partial be replaced. This request was denied. See Ex.
A  to Motion  at 18-21; See Ex. A to Motion  at 12.
Plaintiff’s claims are based on the fact Plaintiff did not agree with Dr. West’s
recommendation, Dr. West refused to replace Plaintiff’s partial, and Plaintiff was not provided a
In his Motion  and Supporting Memorandum  Defendant Dr. West argues that
6 The medical records reflect that the Plaintiff’s partial had been repaired on November
21, 2008; December 17, 2008; and January 1, 2009.
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Plaintiff has failed to establish Dr. West was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff’s medical needs,
and thus, Dr. West is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.7 In support of his Motion , Dr.
West submitted a transcript of the Spears hearing, Plaintiff’s dental records, an affidavit of Dr.
West, and the Administrative Remedy Program second step response form. See Exs. A-D to
In his Motion for Summary Judgment  and Supporting Memorandum , which the
court construes as responses in opposition to Defendants’ Motions  , Plaintiff argues that
Dr. West denied him adequate medical treatment by refusing to replace Plaintiff’s partial and not
providing him with a soft diet.
In order to succeed on his claims, Plaintiff must demonstrate that Defendants were
deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. See Davidson, 91 Fed. App’x at 964.
Plaintiff has failed to show that Dr. West was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs.
Based on the evidence before the court, Dr. West nor any other medical professional ever refused
to treat Plaintiff, ignored his complaints, or denied him medical treatment.8 To the contrary,
when Plaintiff presented with a complaint, Dr. West saw him and provided him with a
recommendation for treatment.
According to Dr. West’s affidavit, it is his “professional opinion that the reason for the
continued breaks and fractures was that Mr. McGriggs did not have a sufficient number of top
7 Dr. West and Dr. Ron Woodall jointly filed a Motion for Summary Judgment.
Plaintiff’s claims against Dr. Woodall and Dr. Woodall’s arguments for summary judgment are
8 In addition to seeing Plaintiff on September 22, 2011, Dr. West cleaned Plaintiff’s teeth
on October 7, 2011. See Ex. A  to Motion  at 22-24.
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teeth to provide the necessary support for a partial denture. This lack of support was what led to
the prior breaks.” He states that it is his “professional opinion that the best course of treatment
would have been to remove the remaining top teeth and provide Mr. McGriggs with a full upper
denture.” He also states that Plaintiff did not request a soft diet and Plaintiff did not require a
soft diet because “Mr. McGiggs did still have most of his bottom teeth and it is my professional
opinion that he should have been able to chew his food with his remaining teeth.” Dr. West’s
sworn testimony is consistent with the medical records. See Ex. C to Motion .
Plaintiff refused the treatment recommended to him by Dr. West. Plaintiff’s alleged
injuries are a direct result of this refusal. Plaintiff alleges that Dr. West should have attempted
an alternative method of treatment, the replacement of his partial. Plaintiff did not want the teeth
extraction or the full denture. However, “disagreement with medical treatment does not state a
claim for Eighth Amendment indifference to medical needs.” Norton, 122 F.3d at 292.
The record demonstrates, Plaintiff was provided access to a medical professional, the
medical professional assessed Plaintiff’s condition, and Plaintiff disagreed with the medical
professional’s recommendation regarding the proper course of treatment. These facts are
insufficient to demonstrate deliberate indifference.
Even if Dr. West was negligent in his treatment of Plaintiff, this does not rise to the level
of a constitutional violation; Plaintiff is not entitled to the “best” medical treatment available.
See Daniels, 474 U.S. at 333-34; McMahon, 583 F.2d at 174; Davidson, 91 Fed. App’x at 965
(citing Stewart v. Murphy, 174 F.3d 530, 534 (5th Cir. 1999)) (“Unsuccessful medical treatment,
ordinary acts of negligence, or medical malpractice do not constitute a cause of action under §
1983.”); Bennett v. Louisiana ex rel. Dep’t of Public Safety and Corr., No. 07-31189, 2009 WL
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102080, at *4 (5th Cir. Jan. 15, 2009) (affirming dismissal of plaintiff’s wrongful death claim
against prison officials, reasoning “[w]hile the [officials] may very well have exercised poor
medical judgment in not performing additional tests on [the deceased prisoner], [plaintiff] has
not shown that their actions rise to the level of deliberate indifference”).
To the extent Plaintiff alleges claims against Dr. West in his official capacity, which
would in effect be a claim against SMCI or the Mississippi Department of Corrections
(“MDOC”), Plaintiff’s claims fail as a matter of law. As stated above, there is no respondeat
superior liability under Section 1983. See Oliver, 276 F.3d at 742 & n. 6. Further, Plaintiff has
failed to demonstrate that SMCI or the MDOC implemented a policy, custom, or practice that
was the “moving force” behind the alleged constitutional violation. See Monell, 436 U.S. at 694.
Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff has failed to create a genuine issue of material fact as to
whether Dr. West was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. Dr. West is entitled
to judgment as a matter of law.
Failure to Adequately Investigate
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Mike Hadden and Dr. Ron Woodall failed to adequately
investigate his spoken complaint and his Administrative Remedy Program (“ARP”) complaint
regarding inadequate medical treatment for his dental issues and failed to ensure that he received
appropriate medical attention. Mr. Hadden was the medical director of SMCI. Plaintiff alleges
that he spoke with Mr. Hadden about his medical situation. He alleges that Mr. Hadden said he
would look into the situation, but Plaintiff never heard back from Mr. Hadden. Plaintiff brought
suit against Dr. Woodall because he was the first-step responder to Plaintiff’s ARP grievance
and Dr. Woodall signed off on the denial of the ARP. See Omnibus Order .
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The record reflects that on or about October 10, 2011, Plaintiff submitted an ARP
grievance regarding the denial of adequate medical treatment for his dental issues. In November,
2011, Dr. Woodall provided a first step response stating that Plaintiff “refused extraction and
dentures; see refusal of treatment.” The second step response states “Offender McGriggs signed
a refusal of treatment re multiple extractions and dentures on 9/22/11. Claim has no merit.” See
Ex. B to Motion .
In their Motions and Supporting Memoranda, Defendants argue that Plaintiff has failed to
establish that Defendants violated his constitutional right, and thus, they are entitled to judgment
as a matter of law. The court agrees with Defendants. Plaintiff’s claim that Defendants Hadden
and Dr. Woodall failed to adequately investigate his grievance simply does not give rise to a
constitutional claim. See Dehghani v. Vogelgesang, 226 Fed. App’x 404, 406 (5th Cir. 2007)
(holding that plaintiff’s allegation that warden failed to adequately investigate his grievance did
not amount to a constitutional violation); Charles v. Nance, 186 Fed. App’x 494, 495 (5th Cir.
2006); Woodland v. City of Vicksburg, No. 5:05cv85-DCB-JCS, 2006 WL 3375256, at *3 (S.D.
Miss. Nov. 21, 2006) (stating that claim for “failure to investigate” did not amount to a
constitutional violation). Moreover, Plaintiff has no constitutional right to a grievance procedure
and has no due process liberty interest right to having his grievance resolved to his satisfaction.
See Geiger v. Jower, 404 F.3d 371, 374-75 (5th Cir. 2005); Jones v. Shabazz, No. H-06-1119,
2007 WL 2873042, at *21 (E.D. Tex, Sept. 28, 2007); see also Hernandez v. Estelle, 788 F.2d
1154, 1158 (5th Cir. 1986) (holding that the mere failure of a prison official to follow the
prison’s own regulation or policy does not amount to a constitutional violation); McGowan v.
Peel, No. 3:06cv659-DPJ-JCS, 2007 WL 710154, at *1-2 (S.D. Miss. March 6, 2007).
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Additionally, Plaintiff has failed to show that Defendants Hadden and Dr. Woodall were
deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition. See Davidson, 91 Fed. App’x at 964.
As previously mentioned, there is no supervisory or respondeat superior liability under Section
1983. See Oliver, 276 F.3d at 742 & n. 6. Accordingly, these supervisory Defendants cannot be
held responsible for Dr. West’s alleged denial of adequate medical treatment. See Thompkins,
828 F.2d at 304 (“Under § 1983, supervisory officials cannot be held liable for the actions of
subordinates under any theory of vicarious liability.”).
Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that Defendants Hadden and Woodall were personally
involved in the alleged denial of adequate medical treatment, or that they implemented an
unconstitutional policy that causally resulted in an injury to Plaintiff. Therefore, Plaintiff has
failed to establish a constitutional violation by these Defendants. See Stewart, 174 F.3d at 536
(holding that medical director was not deliberately indifferent to plaintiff’s serious medical needs
where director was not one of the treating physicians and had limited contact with plaintiff);
Hailey v. Savers, 240 Fed. App’x 670, 672 (5th Cir. 2007) (affirming dismissal of prison medical
administrator because plaintiff “failed to allege specific facts to demonstrate that [administrator]
had personal involvement in placing [plaintiff] in a job assignment that posed a substantial risk
of harm or that [administrator] implemented policies to physically harm [plaintiff]”). A
defendant’s involvement in the ARP process alone is an insufficient basis upon which to impose
constitutional liability. See Golden v. Walker, No. 5:08cv292-DCB-MTP, 2009 WL 3448833, at
*2 (S.D. Miss. Oct. 21, 2009).
Even if these Defendants were negligent in carrying out their duties in responding to
Plaintiff’s complaints, this does not meet the high standard of deliberate indifference. See Arnett
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v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 758 (7th Cir. 2011) (“Although [the official’s] failure to [investigate]
may amount to negligence, the summary judgment record does not lead to the conclusion that it
rose to the level of deliberate indifference.”).
Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff has failed to create a genuine issue of material fact as to
whether Defendants Hadden and Dr. Woodall were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical
needs. Defendants Hadden and Dr. Woodall are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Although Defendants have raised the defense of qualified immunity, “if it becomes
evident that the plaintiff has failed to state or otherwise establish a claim, then the defendant is
entitled to dismissal on that basis.” Well v. Bonner, 45 F.3d 90,93 (5th Cir. 1993) (citing Siegert
v. Gilley, 500 U.S. 226, 231-33 (1991)); see also Sappington v. Bartee, 195 F.3d 234, 236 (5th
Cir. 1999). Because the court finds that the Plaintiff’s claims are not cognizable as constitutional
claims, it need not address the issue of whether the Defendants are entitled to qualified
For the reasons stated above, the court finds that Defendants’ Motions for Summary
Judgment   should be granted and Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment  should
be denied. Accordingly,
IT IS THEREFORE, ORDERED:
1. That Defendant Mike Hadden’s Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED and
that this action is dismissed with prejudice.
2. That Defendants Dr. Ron Woodall and Dr. Michael West’s Motion for Summary
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Judgment is GRANTED and that this action is dismissed with prejudice.
3. That Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.
4. A separate judgment in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 58 will be
THIS, the 30th day of July, 2013.
s/ Michael T. Parker
United States Magistrate Judge