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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

HATTIESBURG DIVISION

CHARLES J. MCGRIGGS

PLAINTIFF

VS.

CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:12cv47-MTP

MIKE HADDEN, ET AL.



DEFENDANTS

OPINION AND ORDER

THIS MATTER is before the court on the Motions for Summary Judgment [33] [38] 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.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Charles J. McGriggs, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed his

Complaint [1] 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 [28]. 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

7/25/13).

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)

(emphasis omitted).

ANALYSIS

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. §

1983).

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.

2001).

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 [38] at 10; Ex. A [36] to Motion

[33] 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 [36] to Motion [33] 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 [36] to Motion [33] at 18-21; See Ex. A to Motion [38] 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

soft diet.

In his Motion [38] and Supporting Memorandum [39] 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 [38], 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

Motion [38].

In his Motion for Summary Judgment [44] and Supporting Memorandum [46], which the

court construes as responses in opposition to Defendants’ Motions [33] [38], 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
discussed below.

8 In addition to seeing Plaintiff on September 22, 2011, Dr. West cleaned Plaintiff’s teeth

on October 7, 2011. See Ex. A [36] to Motion [33] 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 [38].

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 [28].

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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 [33].

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.

Qualified Immunity

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

immunity.

CONCLUSION

For the reasons stated above, the court finds that Defendants’ Motions for Summary

Judgment [33] [38] should be granted and Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment [44] 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

filed herein.

SO ORDERED

THIS, the 30th day of July, 2013.

s/ Michael T. Parker
United States Magistrate Judge

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