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Francisco Castaneda v. the United States of America

January 7, 2011

FRANCISCO CASTANEDA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
CALIFORNIA, GEORGE MOLINAR, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY,
CHRIS HENNEFORD, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY,
JEFF BRINKLEY, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY,
GENE MIGLIACCIO, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY,
TIMOTHY SHACK, M.D., IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, ESTHER HUI, M.D., IN HER INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY,
STEPHEN GONSALVES, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY,
CLAUDIA MAZUR, IN HER INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, DANIEL HUNTING, M.D. , DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dean D. Pregerson United States District Judge

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

[Motion filed on 8/11/2010]

Presently before the court is Defendant Robert Mekemson ("Dr. Mekemson") and Susan Pasha ("Nurse Pasha")'s Motion for Summary Judgment.*fn1 After reviewing the parties' moving papers and hearing argument, the court denies the motion and adopts the following order.

I. Background

The facts of this case, involving allegations of constitutional violations under the Eighth Amendment, are known to the parties and are more fully described in this court's previous orders. Accordingly, the court will only explain the facts here as necessary.

In December 2005, Francisco Castaneda ("Castaneda") was incarcerated at the North Kern State Prison. During a medical screening on December 8, 2005, Dr. Andrew Leong found a lesion on Castaneda's penis. Dr. Leong recommended that Castaneda see a urologist and obtain a circumcision. On December 27, Dr. Leong observed discolorations on Castaneda's penis, a constriction of the foreskin, and a foul smell. Dr. Leong filled out a "Physician Request for Services form." On the form, Dr. Leong wrote "rule out squamous cell [carcinoma]" and requested that Castaneda consult with a urologist. Dr. Leong requested the consultation "ASAP -- 1 -2 weeks" and marked the request as "Routine."

Roughly two weeks later, on January 11, 2006, Dr. Mekemson, in his capacity as Chief Medical Officer of the North Kern State Prison, reviewed Dr. Leong's request. Dr. Mekemson observed that Castaneda was scheduled to be transferred to a different facility the following day, January 12. Dr. Mekemson believed that Castaneda would receive a medical screening at the new facility, and therefore denied the request for a urology consultation.

Nurse Pasha examined Castaneda on February 7, 2006. Nurse Pasha observed a raised, white-yellow lesion on Castaneda's penis. Nurse Pasha filled out a Physician Request for Services Form. On the form, Nurse Pasha wrote, "Rule out squamous cell [carcinoma]." Nurse Pasha requested a urology consultation, marked the request "Urgent," and noted that Castaneda should make a follow-up visit in one month. One month later, on March 7, Castaneda had not yet received a urology consultation. Nurse Pasha again planned to follow up after one month. Castaneda was scheduled for a urology consultation on March 29, 2006, but was released into federal custody on March 26, 2006, three days before his urology appointment. Castaneda died of aggressive penile cancer in February 2008.

Plaintiffs allege that Dr. Mekemson and Nurse Pasha were deliberately indifferent to Castaneda's medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiffs also bring a wrongful death claim under California State Law. Dr. Mekemson and Nurse Pasha now move for summary judgment.

II. Legal Standard

A motion for summary judgment must be granted when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is 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). A party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion and of identifying those portions of the pleadings and discovery responses that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

Where the moving party will have the burden of proof on an issue at trial, the movant must affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party. On an issue as to which the nonmoving party will have the burden of proof, however, the movant can prevail merely by pointing out that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. See id. If the moving party meets its initial burden, the non-moving party must set forth, by affidavit or as otherwise provided in Rule 56, "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986).

It is not the Court's task "to scour the record in search of a genuine issue of triable fact." Keenan v. Allan, 91 F.3d 1275, 1278 (9th Cir. 1996). Counsel have an obligation to lay out their support clearly. Carmen v. San Francisco Sch. Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1031 (9th Cir. 2001). The Court "need not examine the entire file for evidence establishing a genuine issue of fact, where the evidence is not ...


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