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Giraldes v. Prebula

June 23, 2010

LARRY GIRALDES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
T. PREBULA, ET. AL., DEFENDANTS.



FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in an action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His complaint alleges that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs and inappropriately authorized his medical transfer from California Medical Facility ("CMF") to High Desert State Prison ("HDSP"). Defendants have moved for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the motion should be granted as to defendant Sauhkla and denied as to defendants Andreason, Gavia and Prebula.

I. Background

Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on April 28, 2005. Dckt. No. 62. On January 25, 2006, the previously assigned magistrate judge recommended that defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted. Dckt. No. 98. On March 27, 2006, the district judge declined to adopt the magistrate judge's findings and recommendations, found that disputed facts existed, and remanded the case to the magistrate judge for further proceedings. Dckt. No. 102. Defendants filed an interlocutory appeal. Dckt. No. 103. On May 6, 2008, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal. Dckt. No. 118.

The previous magistrate judge concluded that summary judgment should be granted. His findings and recommendations set forth the factual background of the case as follows:

Plaintiff alleges defendant Sauhkla, upon instruction from defendants Prebula and Gavia, prepared a memorandum authorizing plaintiff's transfer from California Medical Facility (CMF) to High Desert State Prison (HDSP) and [defendant] Dr. Andreasen approved the transfer knowing HDSP could not provide adequate medical care for his severe digestive problems, Hepatitis C and knee problems and that within days of the September 28, 2001 transfer plaintiff began to suffer vomiting and intestinal bleeding but was denied medical attention upon the ground the necessary care was unavailable at HDSP. . . .

The following facts are undisputed: Plaintiff was a prisoner at the California Medical Facility (CMF) from July 28, 1994, until September 28, 2001, when plaintiff was transferred to High Desert State Prison (HDSP). At all times relevant, defendant Dr. Andreasen was the Chief Medical Officer and defendant Dr. Sauhkla was a physician at CMF. Defendants Prebula and Gavia were correctional counselors at CMF.

California Medical Facility is a prison staffed and equipped for prisoners with medical or psychiatric needs requiring specialized and continuous care. Inmates with medical conditions requiring frequent outpatient diagnostic, treatment, or rehabilitative services are designated, "Category O." Such a designation can override a classification otherwise warranting placement in a more secure institution.[]

After portions of plaintiff's esophagus and stomach were removed in 1985, he began to suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition in which acid flows into the canal leading to the stomach. Plaintiff cannot eat large portions of food and is subject to nausea, vomiting, bloating, and diarrhea. Plaintiff loses weight easily.

Treatments for GERD include elevating the head about six inches while sleeping, medicines, eating several small meals daily instead of three large meals and regular liquid dietary supplements.

In 1994, plaintiff was designated "Category O" and was transferred to CMF, where he variously received a liquid diet or high-protein drinks, double portions of meals to be eaten as several small meals and the medicine Prevacid, which blocks the production of stomach acid.

In 1996, plaintiff began accumulating disciplinary convictions for trafficking narcotics, threatening staff, possessing a controlled substance, threatening a non-inmate, assault on a non-inmate, possessing of marijuana and burning a mattress.

In 1997, plaintiff underwent knee surgery to reconstruct one knee but he re-injured it. Orthopedic specialists examined plaintiff but disagreed about the advisability of additional surgery.

June 6, 1998, a physician not named as a defendant recommended rescinding plaintiff's Category O designation because plaintiff had not had serious medical problems since 1994. February 7, 2001, defendant Sauhkla found plaintiff's medical needs could be satisfied by any institution with outpatient care available,*fn1 recommended rescinding plaintiff's Category O designation and recommended transferring plaintiff to any institution consistent with his custody needs.

Defendants Andreasen and Sauhkla periodically consulted orthopedic specialists, compared recent and remote knee x-rays, examined plaintiff, monitored plaintiff's GERD symptoms and adjusted plaintiff's treatment. Defendant Andreasen authorized plaintiff's use of a cane or a brace and plaintiff's weight ...


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