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Willis v. Raupe

March 26, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: William Q. Hayes United States District Judge



On November 16, 2004, Leroy Willis Jr. ("Plaintiff"), currently detained at the San Diego Central Jail, filed this civil rights action in pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, while he was incarcerated at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility ("RJD") in San Diego, California. Currently pending before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Steven Ritter, Lori Raupe (erroneously sued as Laura Raupe) and Nola Grannis ("Defendants") pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 56 [Doc. No. 84].

The Court has notified Plaintiff of the requirements for opposing summary judgment pursuant to Klingele v. Eikenberry, 849 F.2d 409 (9th Cir. 1988) and Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952 (9th Cir. 1998) (en banc) [Doc. No. 86].*fn1 In response, Plaintiff has filed several documents, supplemental briefs and memos in Opposition [Doc. Nos. 89, 91, 94, 97, 99], to which Defendants have filed a Reply [Doc. No. 95].

While this case was randomly referred to the Honorable Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) for disposition, the Court has determined that a Report and Recommendation regarding the disposition of Defendants' pending Motion for Summary Judgment is unnecessary. See S. D. CAL. CIVLR 72.3(a). Having now exercised its discretion to consider the matter as submitted on the papers without oral argument pursuant to S.D. CAL. CIVLR 7.1.d.1, the Court hereby GRANTS Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 56(c) for the reasons set forth in detail below.


A. Plaintiff's Allegations

In his Amended Complaint, which is not verified under penalty of perjury,*fn2 Plaintiff claims Defendants Steven Ritter, D.O., who is the Heath Care Manager/Chief Medical Officer ("CMO") at RJD, Lori Raupe, an inmate Appeals Coordinator at RJD, and Nola Grannis, Chief of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR") Appeals Branch, violated the Eighth Amendment's proscription on cruel and unusual punishment as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") by failing to provide, or ensure through inmate grievance procedures, adequate medical care beginning in May 2002. (Amend. Compl. [Doc. No. 5] at 1-5.)

In his Amended Complaint, which is far from lucid, but liberally construed,*fn3 Plaintiff claims to suffer from dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart condition.*fn4 Plaintiff specifically refers to a July 11, 2002 diagnosis conducted at Alvarado Medical Hospital, in support of his claim that CMO Ritter "displayed intentional deliberate indifference to a delay in a[n] organ transplant." (Id. at 4.)

The only documentary evidence of the July 11, 2002 diagnosis is an excerpt from Plaintiff's medical records, submitted as an exhibit to Plaintiff's original Complaint. (See Compl. [Doc. No. 1] at 11.) This exhibit, which appears to be one page of a multi-page "Interventional Cardiac Procedure Report," indicates that Plaintiff was admitted to Alvarado on July 11, 2002, where he was examined by Kevin Rapeport, M.D. Dr. Rapeport described Plaintiff as:

[a] 44-year old male with congestive heart failure, with known drug abuse, smoking and sarcoidosis. The patient requires cardiac catheterization to rule out cardiomyopathy, ischemic heart disease and [an] endomyocardial biopsy to rule out sarcoid heart disease.*fn5

(Compl. at 12, "History and Physical" dated 7/11/02.) Dr. Rapeport further noted that the "full risks, benefits and alternatives including the risks of MI, CVA, bleeding, infection, arrhythmia and death [were] discussed in detail with [Plaintiff] by ... Dr. Sun as well as myself and the patient consent[ed]." (Id.)

Thus, on July 11, 2002, it appears Plaintiff underwent a right and left heart catheterization, a "selective left and right coronary angiogram," and a left ventriculogram" with "no complications" and "minimal blood loss." (Id. at 11, 30-31 "Interventional Cardiac Procedure Report" and "Procedure Note" by John Mazur, M.D., re Endomyocardial Biopsy dated 7/11/02.) While Karl Sun, M.D. acted as Plaintiff's admitting physician, an endomyocardial biopsy was taken by Drs. Rapeport and John Mazur. (Id. at 11, 30.) The results of this biopsy, dated July 12, 2002, and also attached to Plaintiff's original Complaint, showed "moderate myocyte hypertrophy with focal interstitial fibrosis" but were "negative for active myocarditis and granuloma."*fn6 (Id. at 23 "Surgical Pathology Report.")

Plaintiff filed a CDC 602 inmate appeal challenging the sufficiency of his medical care after the 2002 biopsy. (See Compl. at 9-10 "Director's Level Appeal Decision," Log No. RJD 03-1274.) Defendant Grannis, as Chief of the CDCR's Inmate Appeals Branch, denied Plaintiff's grievance on February 24, 2004. (Id.) In his CDC 602, Plaintiff claimed that the "heart biopsy performed in 2002 indicate[d] heart problems for which he [wa]s not receiving appropriate treatment." (Id.) Plaintiff requested to "be seen by a specialist" and "someone other than Dr. Sun at the Alvarado Hospital" based on claims of a "racial conflict of interest." (Id.)*fn7

At the second level of appeal review, Plaintiff claims Defendant Raupe, in her capacity as the medical appeals reviewer, "intentionally denied [him] medical care" by refusing Plaintiff's request to "visit to a[n] outside clinic other than Alvarado." (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff alleged Raupe was "aware at the time" of the seriousness of his cardiomyopathy and "lung disease sarcoidosis" and that her decision "could possib[ly] lead to [Plaintiff's] death." (Id.)

According to Plaintiff's Director's Level Appeal decision, Raupe "found that [Plaintiff] was referred for a cardiology consultation" on April 25, 2003, where he was found to be "clinically stable," and that after the consult, Plaintiff was monitored at RJD by a Dr. Hunt. (Id. at 9.) Raupe indicated that Dr. Hunt "had been seeing [Plaintiff] on a regular basis," and that if he required "further specialty visits the facility physician [would] request a referral." (Id.)

Plaintiff appealed Raupe's decision; however, his grievance was denied at the Director's Level by Defendant Grannis because Raupe's review of Plaintiff's medical records and history showed he "had received medical care in accordance with [CDCR] regulations," specifically CAL. CODE REGS., tit. 15 § 3354, and because there was "no evidence ... to substantiate [his] allegation that Dr. Sun from Alvarado Hospital ha[d] a racial conflict of interest."*fn8 (Id.) Plaintiff claims Grannis, with "evil intent," denied his rights under the ADA in his capacity as Chief of Inmate Appeals because by denying his grievance on or about February 24, 2004, Grannis was "made aware that [Plaintiff] has a chronic heart and lung disease," yet nevertheless refused to permit him access to "another doctor other than Dr. Sun for [a] second opinion" concerning the July 11, 2002 biopsy conducted at Alvarado. (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff also includes reference to his need for a "cardiac diet," under the ADA but, like his claims related to the need for an organ transplant, he offers no further elucidation and points to no evidentiary support for such a claim.*fn9 (Id.)

Finally, Plaintiff objects to inadequate medical treatment performed during or after another "outside clinic visit" to Alvarado in April 2004, and concludes that CMO Ritter "refused to correct" his shaking and chest pain and denied him relief in the form of surgery he claims was required to repair "leaks" in his heart valves. (Amend. Compl. at 4; Compl. at 18.) The only evidence in the record that appears to coincide with this allegation is an exhibit attached to Plaintiff's original Complaint entitled "Echocardiogram Report" and prepared by the Rapeport Medical Corp. on April 29, 2004. (Compl. at 18.) Defendant Ritter also references Plaintiff's April 29, 2004 referral to Alvarado in his response to a complaint Plaintiff appears to have lodged with the Osteopathic Medical Board of California. (Id. at 13, Ritter Memorandum dated May 14, 2004.) In this memo, Ritter explains Plaintiff's medical history as follows:

Inmate-patient Willis arrived at RJ Donovan Correctional Facility on May 3, 2002. He was evaluated and treated appropriately. He presented with a history of Sarcoidosis, congestive heart failure, back pain and blurring vision. Since his initial visit he has been seen routinely by our Staff physicians on the various yards. In addition, referrals were made to ...

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