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Montileaux v. Pennington County Sheriff Department

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division

March 31, 2016

MOSES VIRGIL MONTILEAUX, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
PENNINGTON COUNTY SHERIFF DEPARTMENT; JAMES ROWENHORST, Jail Commander; JAIL MEDICAL STAFF DEPARTMENT; CAPT. YANTIS, Head of Medical Staff; R.N. LAURIE GOOD, Head R.N. Nurse; STEVEN KLOSK, Medical Staff R.N.; and KEVIN THOM, Pennington County Sheriff,, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

KAREN E. SCHREIER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Plaintiff, Moses Virgil Montileaux, Jr., filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on November 5, 2014 while a detainee at the Pennington County Jail. Docket 1. After deposing Montileaux, defendants move for summary judgment. Docket 34. Montileaux did not respond to this motion. For the reasons stated below, defendants’ motion for summary judgment is granted, and Montileaux’s complaint is dismissed.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND[1]

While awaiting trial, Montileaux was incarcerated at the Pennington County Jail. Docket 36 at ¶ 2. Montileaux alleges that on January 9, 2013, Steven Klock, an EMT at the Pennington County Jail, delivered medication to him in his cell. Id. at ¶¶ 8-11. The pills were crushed and administered to Montileaux in a cup of water. Id. at ¶¶ 16-18. There is a dispute as to whether Klock used his bare fingers or a special device to crush Montileaux’s pills. Id. at ¶¶ 17, 19. Klock suffered a bloody nose while distributing medicine. Id. at ¶ 13.

After the incident, Montileaux was worried he caught a disease from exposure to Klock’s blood. Id. at ¶ 25. This stress caused him to feel sick, and he was unable to digest his food. Id. He explained his concern that he had contracted HIV or hepatitis to prison medical staff through the prison kiosk. Id. at ¶ 29. Montileaux requested a blood test. Id. at ¶ 44. A day or two later, Montileaux was tested for HIV and hepatitis, and both tests came back negative. Id. at ¶¶ 45-47. Klock was also tested for both diseases after the incident. Id. at ¶ 20. These tests also came back negative. Id. at ¶ 21.

On October 23, 2013, Montileaux filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming defendants violated his constitutional rights. Docket 1; Docket 36 at ¶ 3. After deposing Montileaux, defendants moved for summary judgment. Docket 34. They argue that they are entitled to dismissal on the merits of Montileaux’s claims, they are entitled to qualified immunity, and claims against the county should be dismissed because Montileaux has not raised a claim of unconstitutional policy or custom. Docket 35 at 10-14.

LEGAL STANDARD

Civil rights and pro se complaints must be liberally construed. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citation omitted); Bediako v. Stein Mart, Inc., 354 F.3d 835, 839 (8th Cir. 2004).

Under Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is appropriate where the moving party “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). The court must view the facts, and inferences from those facts, in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007) (quoting United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S.Ct. 993, 8 L.Ed.2d 176 (1962)); Helton v. Southland Racing Corp., 600 F.3d 954, 957 (8th Cir. 2010) (per curiam). Summary judgment will not lie if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Stuart C. Irby Co. v. Tipton, 796 F.3d 918, 922 (8th Cir. 2015).

The burden is placed on the moving party to establish both the absence of any genuine issue of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Once the movant has met its burden, the nonmoving party may not simply rest on the allegations in the pleadings, but must set forth specific facts, by affidavit or other evidence, showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256; Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

The underlying substantive law identifies the facts that are “material” for purposes of a motion for summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. “Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted.” Id. (citing 10A Charles A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Mary Kay Kane, Fed. Practice & Procedure § 2725, at 93-95 (3d ed. 1983)). “[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 genuine issue of material fact.” Id. at 247-48.

Essentially, the availability of summary judgment turns on whether a proper jury question is presented: “The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is the need for a trial-whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.” Id. at 250. Although pro se litigants such as Montileaux are entitled to a liberal construction of their pleadings, Rule 56 remains equally applicable to them. Quam v. Minnehaha Co. Jail, 821 F.2d 522, 522 (8th Cir. 1987).

DISCUSSION

As an initial matter, although Montileaux did not respond to the motion for summary judgment and the court adopts defendants’ facts, defendants’ motion is not automatically granted. “Even if a motion for summary judgment on a particular claim stands unopposed, the district court must still determine that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on that ...


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