United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
JEFFREY L. VIKEN, Chief Judge.
Plaintiff, Loren Reyna, a/k/a Two Bulls, is an inmate at the South Dakota State Penitentiary (SDSP) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. On July 20, 2011, Mr. Reyna filed a pro se civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging defendants (1) acted with deliberate indifference toward his serious medical needs, thus subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment; and (2) withheld requested legal documents from Mr. Reyna, thus denying him access to the courts in violation of the First Amendment. (Docket 1). To remedy these alleged constitutional violations, Mr. Reyna requests an award of money damages.
On March 5, 2013, Defendants Don Holloway, Kevin Thom, Jodie McClure, Sergeant Steele, Correctional Officer Maxfield, Lieutenant Haga, Jail Commander Grier, and Sheriffs Deputy Smiths moved for summary judgment. (Docket 85). Mr. Reyna opposes the motion. (Dockets 91; 92; 93; 94). For the reasons set forth below, the court grants defendants' motion for summary judgment.
Viewed in a light most favorable to Mr. Reyna, the nonmoving party, the facts are:
Mr. Reyna pled guilty to aggravated assault in Pennington County on August 27, 2008. (Docket 87 at ¶ 1; Mr. Reyna Dep. 6:5-16, Jan. 9, 2013 Sent. Tr. at 2, Sept. 16, 2008). Mr. Reyna subsequently received a ten-year, suspended sentence and was placed on probation. (Sentencing Tr. at 6). That same year, Mr. Reyna violated the terms of his probation and was sentenced to a prison term of ten years, with five years suspended. (Docket 87 at ¶ 4; Docket 94-3 at p. 1; Mr. Reyna Dep. 7:14-15, 7:23-8:1).
In 2010, Mr. Reyna moved the state court for a modification of sentence. (Docket 87 at ¶ 6; Mr. Reyna Dep. 13:6-15). On July 20, 2010, Judge A. P. Fuller signed a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum ordering the Warden of the State Penitentiary to return Mr. Reyna to the Pennington County Jail (PCJ) by August 13, 2010. (Docket 1 at pp. 7-8; Docket 87 at ¶ 7). Mr. Reyna arrived at the PCJ on August 13, 2010, and was scheduled to appear at a modification hearing on August 17, 2010. (Docket 1 at p. 7; Docket 87 at ¶¶ 8, 10; Mr. Reyna Dep. 14:7-13).
Upon Mr. Reyna's arrival at the PCJ on August 13, 2010, jail staff inventoried Mr. Reyna's possessions. (Docket 87 at ¶ 12; Docket 92 at p. 3). During this time, Sergeant Steele began flipping through and reading the paperwork in Mr. Reyna's box which was labeled "legal paperwork." (Docket 1 at p. 3; Docket 87 at ¶ 28; Mr. Reyna Dep. 27:3-10; Docket 92 at p. 4). Sergeant Steele continued reading the legal documents for approximately three to four minutes in Mr. Reyna's presence, but without Mr. Reyna's permission. (Docket 1 at p. 3; Mr. Reyna Dep. 31:19-21; Docket 92 at p. 4). These legal documents were then placed in PCJ's property room, along with Mr. Reyna's two inhalers and various other possessions. (Docket 1 at p.3; Docket 87 at ¶¶ 12, 15-16; Docket 92 at p. 3).
On August 14, 2010, Mr. Reyna submitted a sick call request to inform the medical staff he needed his medically prescribed inhaler. (Docket 1 at p. 12; Docket 87 at ¶ 17; Docket 92 at p. 5). Nurse Joyce Peterson reviewed Mr. Reyna's request on August 15, 2010, and reported that the "inhaler [would] be brought up." (Docket 1 at p. 12; Docket 87 at ¶ 18; Docket 92 at p. 3). Still without his inhaler, Mr. Reyna submitted an additional request for his inhaler on August 16, 2010. (Docket 1 at pp. 15-16). Although Mr. Reyna eventually received his inhaler on August 17, 2010, he experienced shortness of breath and anxiety attacks on twelve separate occasions during the three days he was without his inhaler. (Docket 1 at p. 4; Docket 87 at ¶ 20; Mr. Reyna Dep. 37:4-8; Docket 92 at p. 4). In the absence of his inhaler, Mr. Reyna had to resort to a Native American steam remedy whereby he placed a towel over his head and put his head in a sink for 45 minutes while running hot water. (Docket 1 at p. 4; Docket 87 at ¶¶ 22-24; Mr. Reyna Dep. 36:1-5; Docket 92 at p. 4). As a result of not having access to his inhaler, Mr. Reyna experienced chest pains and difficulty breathing. (Mr. Reyna Dep. 40:21-41:3).
On August 14, 2010, Mr. Reyna submitted a request for access to his legal paperwork. (Docket 1 at p. 10; Docket 87 at ¶ 30; Docket 92 at p. 5). Mr. Reyna submitted similar requests on August 15, 2010, and August 16, 2010. (Docket 1 at p. 4; Docket 87 at ¶ 31; Docket 92 at p. 5). Mr. Reyna received a portion of his legal paperwork on August 16, 2010, one day before his modification hearing. (Docket 1 at p. 4; Docket 87 at ¶ 32; Docket 92 at p. 5). The paperwork, however, was no longer in chronological order and portions of the paperwork were missing. (Docket 1 at p. 4; Docket 87 at ¶ 33; Mr. Reyna Dep. 53:2-6; Docket 92 at p. 5). Mr. Reyna submitted an additional request for legal paperwork on August 16, 2010. (Docket 1 at p. 14; Docket 92 at p. 5). Given the complications Mr. Reyna experienced in acquiring his legal paperwork, it was difficult for Mr. Reyna to present his case to Judge Fuller at the August 17, 2010, modification hearing. (Docket 92 at p. 5). Although Mr. Reyna believes Judge Fuller was going to rule in his favor, Judge Fuller was removed from office shortly after Mr. Reyna's modification hearing, and Judge Jeff Davis subsequently denied Mr. Reyna's motion without holding an additional hearing. (Docket 87 at ¶¶ 34-36; Docket 92 at 5).
Mr. Reyna remained at PCJ until August 19, 2010, when he was transported back to Mike Durfee State Prison (MDSP). (Docket 87 at ¶ 11; Mr. Reyna Dep. 14:24-15:3; Docket 92 at p. 3).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
"Summary judgment is appropriate when the evidence,  viewed in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, demonstrates that there is no genuine issue of material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Clark v. Kellogg Co. , 205 F.3d 1079, 1082 (8th Cir. 2000); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "Once the motion for summary judgment is made and supported, it places an affirmative burden on the non-moving party to go beyond the pleadings and by affidavit or otherwise designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Commercial Union Ins. v. Schmidt , 967 F.2d 270, 271 (8th Cir. 1992) (internal quotations and citations omitted). "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Although "the court is required to... give [the nonmoving] party the benefit of all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts, " Vette Co. v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co. , 612 F.2d 1076, 1077 (8th Cir. 1980), the nonmoving party may not "rest upon mere denials or allegations." Forrest v. Kraft Foods, Inc. , 285 F.3d 688, 691 (8th Cir. 2002). Instead, the nonmoving party must "set forth specific facts sufficient to raise a genuine issue for trial." Id.
Prisoners who proceed pro se are entitled to the benefit of liberal construction at the pleading stage. Quam v. Minnehaha Cnty. Jail , 821 F.2d 522 (8th Cir. 1987). Nonetheless, the summary judgment standard set forth in Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 remains applicable to prisoners proceeding pro se. Id . The district court is not required to "plumb the record in order to find a genuine issue of material fact." Barge v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc. , 87 F.3d 256, 260 (8th Cir. 1996). Moreover, the court is not "required to speculate on which portion of the record the nonmoving party relies, nor is it obligated to wade through and search the entire record for some specific facts that might support the nonmoving party's claim." Id . Courts must remain sensitive "to the special problems faced by prisoners attempting to proceed pro se in ...