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Morris v. Burnham

United States District Court, D. Utah

March 27, 2017

BRANDON L. MORRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
BRUCE BURNHAM, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          CLARK WADDOUPS, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Brandon Morris is a pro se prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis. He raises claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as to Defendant Dr. Bruce Burnham's inadequate medical treatment of Plaintiff's seizures and other issues while at Utah State Prison (USP). (See Dkt. No. 6.)

         Defendant filed a Martinez report with medical and other records and Defendant's declaration regarding Plaintiff's treatment. (Dkt. No. 20.) Defendant then moved for summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims, asserting qualified immunity. (Dkt. No. 24.) Plaintiff's response to the Martinez report and summary-judgment motion lacks substantive argument and evidentiary support.

         SUMMARY-JUDGMENT & QUALIFIED-IMMUNITY STANDARDS

         Summary judgment is appropriate when “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). Factual assertions may be supported by, citing to parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . ., admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or . . . showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.

Id. at 56(c)(1). A primary purpose of the summary-judgment rule “is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims or defenses.” Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).

         Ordinarily, the party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of showing “that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. This burden may be met merely by identifying portions of the record which show an absence of evidence to support an essential element of the opposing party's case. Johnson v. City of Bountiful, 996 F.Supp. 1100, 1102 (D. Utah 1998).

         However, when a defendant asserts qualified immunity at summary judgment, the standard Rule 56 burden shifts from the moving defendant to the plaintiff. Plaintiff then has the heavy burden to show that: “(1) the defendant violated a constitutional right and (2) the constitutional right was clearly established.” Becker v. Bateman, 709 F.3d 1019, 1022 (10th Cir. 2013). Here, Plaintiff has done nothing to rebut qualified immunity.

         UNDISPUTED MATERIAL FACTS

         Based on review of the record here, and in light of Plaintiff's failure to substantively oppose Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, the Court finds the following: • Seizures 1. Plaintiff first complained of seizures in April 2009. Depakote was prescribed to control possible seizure activity. (Burnham Decl. ¶ 6, Dkt. No. 20-1; Ex. 2, Medical Records at 68, 72, Dkt. No 20-2.)

         2. Defendant initially saw Plaintiff about seizures on January 12, 2010. Defendant was concerned whether Plaintiff was taking his seizure medications as prescribed. (Burnham Decl. ¶ 7; Ex. 2, Medical Records at 57.)

         3. On January 19, 2010, as recommended by USP staff, Plaintiff went to the University Medical Center (UMC) neurology department to be tested for possible epileptic seizures. UMC did a continuous electroencephalogram (EEG) and MRI of Plaintiff's brain. There was no evidence of epileptic seizures. (Burnham Decl. ¶ 8; Ex. 2, Medical Records at 56, 97.)

         4. Before UMC's assessment, Plaintiff was prescribed Dilantin and Tegretol to control his seizure-like symptoms. Defendant guessed that Plaintiff had not complied with his prescribed medication regimen because those medications would control ...


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