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Ronald Chrisman v. David Smith

December 16, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rma E. Gonzalez, Chief Judge United States District Court


Presently before the Court is a motion for summary judgment brought by Defendants M. Sheridan, N. Marquez, and G. Escalante ("Defendants") pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff, a former state inmate, asserts an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, stemming from alleged inadequate and delayed medical care for injuries he sustained when he was attacked by another inmate. For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion for summary judgment.


On September 26, 2006, Plaintiff, then an inmate at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility ("RJD"), was attacked by another inmate. (Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") ¶ 14.) A corrections officer escorted Plaintiff to the Psychiatric Services Unit, and a Medical Technical Assistant ("MTA") examined him. (Declaration of K. Sheriff (Sheriff Decl.) ¶ 3.) During the examination, the MTA observed that Plaintiff had a bloody nose and that a fingernail on his left hand was bleeding. (Sheriff Decl. ¶ 4; Ex. 1) Pursuant to institution policy, the MTA documented his findings in a Medical Report of Injury or Unusual Occurrence Form. (Sheriff Decl. ¶ 4; Ex. 1) Pursuant to institution policy and custom and practice, the MTA called the attending nurse, who advised the MTA that Plaintiff did not have to be seen at the Triage Treatment Area ("TTA") and could be returned to his cell. (Sheriff Decl. ¶ 5.) A correctional officer escorted Plaintiff back to his cell without incident. (Id.)

On September 27, 2006, Plaintiff received a pass and went to the Facility One Clinic ("Clinic"). Plaintiff advised the clinic officer, Defendant G. Escalante, of his injuries. Escalante told him to "come back tomorrow." (Chrisman Decl. ¶ 12.)

The next day, September 28, 2006, Plaintiff filled out a Health Care Services Request Form requesting treatment for sciatica and a broken finger. (See Ex. 2.) At about 1:00 p.m., the attending nurse, Defendant N. Marquez, examined him. During the examination, Plaintiff reported a constant throbbing pain in his left fifth finger, which was tender, swollen and appeared bruised, and lower back pain, with related muscles spasms, numbness and tingling to his right lower extremities. (Declaration of N. Marquez (Marquez Decl.) ¶ 3; see Ex. 3.) Marquez took Plaintiff's vital signs and completed an M.D. referral, checking the box marked "Routine," which indicated her opinion that the reported injuries were non-emergent. Marquez also requested x-rays consistent with orders given to her that afternoon by the attending physician, and she then referred Plaintiff for a follow-up visit in the Physician's Clinic in two weeks. (Marquez Decl. ¶ 6.) She also gave Plaintiff a bottle of Ibuprofen 200 mg for pain before he left the clinic and advised him to submit another Health Care Services Request Form should his symptoms worsen. (Id.) Marquez had no further contact with Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 7.)

Plaintiff's symptoms worsened and, ultimately, he suffered through two surgeries, severe nerve damage and amputation of his finger. (Chrisman Decl. ¶ 23.) This action followed. (Doc. No. 1.) The case is presently before the Court on a motion for summary judgment brought by Defendants Sheridan, Escalante, and Marquez. (Doc. No. 70.) Plaintiff filed a response in opposition and Defendants filed a reply. (Doc. Nos. 72, 74.)


I. Legal Standard for a Motion for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is proper where the pleadings and materials demonstrate "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(2); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A material issue of fact is a question a trier of fact must answer to determine the rights of the parties under the applicable substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id.

The moving party bears "the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. To satisfy this burden, the movant must demonstrate that no genuine issue of material fact exists for trial. Id. at 322. Where the moving party does not have the ultimate burden of persuasion at trial, it may carry its initial burden of production in one of two ways: "The moving party may produce evidence negating an essential element of the nonmoving party's case, or, after suitable discovery, the moving party may show that the nonmoving party does not have enough evidence of an essential element of its claim or defense to carry its ultimate burden of persuasion at trial." Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co., v. Fritz Cos., 210 F.3d 1099, 1106 (9th Cir. 2000). To withstand a motion for summary judgment, the non-movant must then show that there are genuine factual issues which can only be resolved by the trier of fact. Reese v. Jefferson Sch. Dist. No. 14J, 208 F.3d 736, 738 (9th Cir. 2000). The non-moving party may not rely on the pleadings alone, but must present specific facts creating a genuine issue of material fact through affidavits, depositions, or answers to interrogatories. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324.

The court must review the record as a whole and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Hernandez v. Spacelabs Med. Inc., 343 F.3d 1107, 1112 (9th Cir. 2003). However, unsupported conjecture or conclusory statements are insufficient to defeat summary judgment. Id.; Surrell v. Cal. Water Serv. Co., 518 F.3d 1097, 1103 (9th Cir. 2008). Moreover, the court is not required "'to scour the record in search of a genuine issue of triable fact,'" Keenan v. Allan, 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir.1996) (citations omitted), but rather "may limit its review to the documents submitted for purposes of summary judgment and those parts of the record specifically referenced therein." Carmen v. San Francisco Unified Sch. Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1030 (9th Cir. 2001).

II. Analysis

A. Legal Standard for Deliberate Indifference to a Prisoner's Serious Medical Needs in ...

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