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Henry Kodimer, By and Through His v. Tanacio

March 1, 2011

HENRY KODIMER, BY AND THROUGH HIS
GUARDIAN AD LITEM LYN RAMSKILL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TANACIO, AND JAMES WEST, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Roger T. Benitez United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' JOINT MOTION TO DISMISS CLAIMS BROUGHT UNDER COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO, ELLEN 42 U.S.C. § 1983

Defendants jointly moved to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(a). The motion was granted, as to the claims brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for the following reasons. The motion is denied as to the state claims.*fn1

I. Introduction

Rule 50(a) provides:

(1) If a party has been fully heard on an issue during a jury trial and the court finds that a reasonable jury would not have a legally sufficient evidentiary basis to find for the party on that issue, the court may:

(A) resolve the issue against the party; and

(B) grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law against the party on a claim...that, under the controlling law, can be maintained...only with a favorable finding on that issue.

For purposes of a Rule 50 motion, the evidence must be construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party (in this case, the Plaintiff). To grant the motion, such evidence must permit only one reasonable conclusion. Fisher v. City of San Jose, 509 F.3d 952, 957 (9th Cir. 2007). The Defendants moved at the conclusion of Plaintiff's case in chief. At this point in the trial, the Plaintiff has been fully heard on each of his claims, including his Due Process claims brought as a pretrial detainee under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the government defendants, Nurse Tanacio, Deputy West, and the County of San Diego as a policymaker. Having considered the evidence and having construed that evidence in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, the Court finds that:

1. A reasonable jury would not have a legally sufficient basis to find that the medical screening nurse, Defendant Ellen Tanacio, acted with deliberate indifference to a serious medical need of Mr. Kodimer in violation of his Due Process rights;

2. A reasonable jury would not have a legally sufficient basis to find that the jail classification deputy, Defendant West, acted with deliberate indifference to a serious medical need of Mr. Kodimer in violation of his Due Process rights; and

3. A reasonable jury would not have a legally sufficient basis to find that the policies or practices of the Defendant County of San Diego were deliberately indifferent to a serious medical need of Mr. Kodimer in violation of his Due Process rights.

II. Legal Standards Applicable to Individual Government Actors

In order to recover under § 1983 for the deprivation of a citizen's Due Process rights, a pretrial detainee plaintiff must prove that: (1) a government employee; (2) was subjectively aware; (3) of a serious medical need; and (4) acted with deliberate indifference. Simmons v. Navajo County, 609 F3d 1011, 1018 (9th Cir. 2010). In addition, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant's actions were the moving force behind events that ultimately led to a foreseeable harm (in this case, a suicide attempt). Under Ninth Circuit precedent, a heightened suicide risk qualifies as a serious medical need. Id. But, "a showing of medical malpractice or medical negligence is insufficient to establish a constitutional deprivation." Id. at 1019.

To meet the "subjective awareness" element, the government official must "know of and disregard an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference." Conn v. City of Reno, 591 F.3d 1081, 1096 (9th Cir. 2010). "Proof of subjective awareness is not limited to the purported recollections of the individuals involved." Id. at 1097. "Indeed, in certain circumstances, a factfinder may conclude that an official knew of a substantial risk from the very fact that the risk was obvious." Id. For example, where an inmate was so obviously mentally ill that a deputy who has received no training regarding the ...


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