Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Stoltie v. Soares

May 26, 2009

BRIAN JOSEPH STOLTIE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DR. ANA SOARES, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Plaintiff claims defendant Dr. Soares, a staff psychiatrist, ordered emergency involuntary psychotropic medications against plaintiff's will and denied plaintiff's offer to take oral medication "against his will." (Complt. at 5.) Plaintiff alleges defendants Bennett, Terry, Holloway and Rayfield, medical technical assistants, "slammed" plaintiff to the ground, and that defendant Gooselaw administered the emergency medication by injection without plaintiff's consent. (Id.) Plaintiff argues these acts violated his civil rights 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Id.) Plaintiff also seeks damages under state tort law. (Id.) This matter is before the court on defendants' motion for summary judgment.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARDS UNDER RULE 56

Summary judgment is appropriate when it is demonstrated that there exists "no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).

Under summary judgment practice, the moving party always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any," which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.

Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)). "[W]here the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial on a dispositive issue, a summary judgment motion may properly be made in reliance solely on the 'pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file.'" Id. Indeed, summary judgment should be entered, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. See id. at 322. "[A] complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Id. In such a circumstance, summary judgment should be granted, "so long as whatever is before the district court demonstrates that the standard for entry of summary judgment, as set forth in Rule 56(c), is satisfied." Id. at 323.

If the moving party meets its initial responsibility, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue as to any material fact actually does exist. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). In attempting to establish the existence of this factual dispute, the opposing party may not rely upon the allegations or denials of its pleadings but is required to tender evidence of specific facts in the form of affidavits, and/or admissible discovery material, in support of its contention that the dispute exists. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586 n.11. The opposing party must demonstrate that the fact in contention is material, i.e., a fact that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pacific Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987), and that the dispute is genuine, i.e., the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party, see Wool v. Tandem Computers, Inc., 818 F.2d 1433, 1436 (9th Cir. 1987).

In the endeavor to establish the existence of a factual dispute, the opposing party need not establish a material issue of fact conclusively in its favor. It is sufficient that "the claimed factual dispute be shown to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial." T.W. Elec. Serv., 809 F.2d at 631. Thus, the "purpose of summary judgment is to 'pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial.'" Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e) advisory committee's note on 1963 amendments).

In resolving the summary judgment motion, the court examines the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The evidence of the opposing party is to be believed. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. All reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the facts placed before the court must be drawn in favor of the opposing party. See Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. Nevertheless, inferences are not drawn out of the air, and it is the opposing party's obligation to produce a factual predicate from which the inference may be drawn. See Richards v. Nielsen Freight Lines, 602 F. Supp. 1224, 1244-45 (E.D. Cal. 1985), aff'd, 810 F.2d 898, 902 (9th Cir. 1987). Finally, to demonstrate a genuine issue, the opposing party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts . . . . Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (citation omitted).

On August 29, 2007, the court advised plaintiff of the requirements for opposing a motion pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952, 957 (9th Cir. 1998) (en banc), cert. denied, 527 U.S. 1035 (1999), and Klingele v. Eikenberry, 849 F.2d 409 (9th Cir. 1988).

ANALYSIS

I. Facts*fn1

1. Plaintiff is a state prisoner presently housed at California Medical Facility in the California Department of Mental Health's Vacaville Psychiatric Program (VPP).

2. Plaintiff was convicted of assault with a weapon with intent to inflict great bodily injury.

3. Plaintiff has been admitted on numerous occasions between November 2006 and March 2008 to the VPP for treatment resulting from his serious mental illness, mental disorders and suicidal behavior of cutting himself with whatever instrument he can find (i.e. razor, staple), and exhibiting range and anger.

4. Plaintiff has been diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, with poor impulse control, low frustration tolerance level, anxiety, and racing thoughts. He has and can be easily agitated, aggressive, easily angered, with emotion lability (mood swings) with disproportionate and unpredictable anger/rage.

5. Defendants contend plaintiff has banged on cell walls and doors when frustrated at not getting his way. (Defts.' Ex. A, Medical Record - 11/20/06 - 11/27/06 at 18; Lipon Decl. at ¶ 8.) Plaintiff denies these facts are true, but failed to provide any evidence to the contrary.

6. Defendants contend Ana J. Soares, M.D., was employed by the California Department of Mental Health as a licensed staff psychiatrist for over 8 years working at the VPP at California Medical Facility and over 3 years at VPP's Q-3 Unit. Dr. Soares is a trained and experienced ABPN Board certified psychiatrist, who has taught psychiatry at UC Davis Medical Center where she did her post-graduate training. (Soares' Decl. at ¶¶ 1-7 & Ex. 1; Lipon Decl. at ¶ 6.) Plaintiff denies these facts to be true, but provided no evidence to the contrary.

7. On January 9, 2007, plaintiff was initially assessed and admitted to the VPP's Q-3 Unit by Dr. Soares after serious suicidal/self-injurious behavior on December 20, 2006, where he intentionally cut his arm and suffered significant blood loss requiring several stitches.

8. Dr. Soares reviewed plaintiff's medical history, which reflected suicidal/self-injurious behavior (mostly cutting himself since he was a teenager). For example, on October 9, 2006, plaintiff cut his right arm at the anteculilar vein with a razor blade with significant blood loss requiring a blood transfusion, stating he wanted to die. Plaintiff had a second self-injurious cut on October 25, 2006, where he cut himself on the same right arm in the same vein where he had previously cut with a razor blade.

9. Plaintiff has a family history of suicide with his grandfather committing suicide.

10. Dr. Soares and the Treatment Team assessed plaintiff as a high suicide risk and a high assault risk based on his serious mental illness and mental disorders, his medical history of disproportionate rage/anger, his suicidal/self-injurious behavior of cutting himself and criminal offense record of violence.

11. Dr. Soares was plaintiff's treating psychiatrist and leader of his Treatment Team between January 9, 2007 through March, 2007, until plaintiff was stabilized and transferred to the VPP's P-2 Unit on April 2, 2007, under Dr. Brim's care.

12. At the initial interview, plaintiff told Dr. Soares he would cooperate and agreed to voluntary psychotropic oral medications, including Seroquel, an anti-psychotic medication, to control and treat mental illness and disorders, his suicidal/self-injurious behaviors and his rage/anger issues, and signed informed consent agreements as part of his Treatment Plan.

13. Plaintiff also agreed to a voluntary oral medications plan to control and treat his mental illness and disorders, which included Seroquel, an anti-psychotic he specifically requested, after refusing it initially.

14. At about 5:30 p.m. on February 13, 2007, plaintiff engaged in serious self-injurious behavior by intentionally cutting his right arm and vein area with a staple, causing a one cm. wound with significant bleeding which required medical attention at VPP's B-Emergency Clinic and two stitches. Blood from his self-inflicted cut had seeped out from under his cell door, which an MTA noticed and then took plaintiff out of his cell for emergency medical treatment.

15. Defendants contend the attending psychiatrist put plaintiff on one-on-one suicide watch based on his February 13, 2007 self-injurious cutting behavior, and on February 14, 2007, a mini-Treatment Team went to plaintiff's cell to assess his suicide risk, treatment and medication needs to prevent further suicidal/self-injurious episodes. (Lopez Decl. at ¶ 5; Bunngay Decl. at ¶ 8c; Soares' Decl. at ¶¶ 15, 16e, 17; Ex. A - Medical Files - Phys. Progress Notes (at 74); IDN (at 138).)

Plaintiff denies these facts to be true, yet failed to provide any evidence to support his denials. Moreover, the physician's orders provided by plaintiff confirm that plaintiff was placed on a 1:1 suicide watch. (Pl.'s May 4, 2009 Stmt. Disputed Facts ("Stmt."), Ex. 1.) 15a. The attending psychiatrist ordered plaintiff to take 400 mg of Seroquel along with 100 mg of Benadryl. (Pl.'s Stmt. at 1, Ex. 1.) Plaintiff contends he took those medications by mouth. Id.

16. Defendants contend that on February 14, 2007, plaintiff twice refused to take his two scheduled morning oral medications, including Seroquel, his anti-psychotic medication at 0020 (12 a.m.) and at 0800 (8 a.m.). (Bunngay Decl. ¶ 8g; Ex. B - Medication & Treatment Chart (p. 29); Soares' Decl. ¶ 13; Lopez Decl. ¶ 5; Ex. B - Medication & Treatment Chart (at 29), Ex. E - Pl.'s Depo., 15:9-17:4.) Plaintiff denies these facts to be true, but in his declaration states that "[o]n the morning of February 14, 2007, I exercised my right to refuse my a.m. dose of medication and to participate in treatment." (Pl.'s Decl. at 2.)

17. On February 14, 2007, Dr. Soares and the Treatment Team went to plaintiff's cell, but he refused to talk to Dr. Soares, Dr. Armstrong, or anyone else on the Treatment Team despite their attempts to engage him and to encourage him to cooperate and meet with the Team. As a result, the Team and Dr. Soares were unable to properly assess plaintiff's suicide risk and treatment/medication needs to prevent another suicidal/self-injurious episode by plaintiff. (Soares' Decl. ¶¶ 15, 16d, 163; Lopez Decl. ¶ 6; Bunngay Decl. ¶¶ 8d, 8e. Ex. E - Pl.'s Depo. -17:5-18:6; 23:22-25:7; 25:22-27:19.)

Plaintiff denies these facts to be true. Plaintiff counters that while he did state that he would resist and fight forced drugging, he was not displaying or threatening harm to himself or others at this time. (Pl.'s Stmt. at 2.) Plaintiff informed the Treatment Team the morning of February 14, 2007 that he had "nothing to say." (Id., Ex. 3 - Special Incident Report at 7.)

18. On February 14, 2007, after discussion with the Treatment Team, Dr. Soares and the Team determined there was an emergency and plaintiff had become a danger to himself based on the following factors:*fn2 (Soares Decl. ¶ 16; Lipon Decl. ¶ 6; Lopez Decl. ¶ 5; Bunngay Decl. ¶¶ 8d, 8e.

a. Plaintiff had intentionally cut himself on his right arm causing significant blood loss the night before (on February 13, 2007).

b. The next morning, on February 14, 2007, plaintiff refused to take his two scheduled morning oral medications, including Seroquel, his anti-psychotic medication at 0020 (12 a.m.) and at 0800 (8 a.m.)

c. Plaintiff refused to talk to or respond to any questions from Dr. Soares or Dr. Armstrong, and refused to cooperate or meet with the Treatment Team.

d. Without his cooperation, the Team and Dr. Soares could not evaluate plaintiff's suicide and safety risks or treatment or medication needs to prevent another episode of suicidal/self-injurious behavior.

e. Plaintiff's oppositional and uncooperative behavior of refusing his two scheduled morning oral medications and his refusal to meet with the Team about his mental condition or treatment needs on February 14, 2007, and his suicidal/self-injurious behavior on February 13, 2007, demonstrated that he was not capable of making any judgments or giving informed consent about his treatment needs.

f. Until February 13, 2007, plaintiff had not engaged in any intentional cutting of himself since he was admitted on January 1, 2007. Plaintiff had been cooperative with his Treatment Team and assessed as doing fairly well on February 6, 2007. Plaintiff's behavior on February 13 and February 14, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.