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Raohl Hursh v. County of San Diego

May 23, 2011

RAOHL HURSH,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO, DEFENDANT.



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

ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Defendant County of San Diego's motion for summary judgment is before the Court. (Doc. No. 43.) Plaintiff opposes the motion. (Doc. Nos. 44, 53.*fn1 ) Defendant filed a Reply. (Doc. No.45.) For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff asserts federal claims against Defendant under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for Defendant's failure to place him in a lower bunk and provide appropriate medical care following his fall from an upper bunk. Plaintiff also asserts a state law claim based on the failure to provide medical care after Plaintiff's fall. The facts of the case are largely undisputed. Plaintiff was a convicted prisoner in the San Diego County Central Detention Facility.

Defendant's policy dictates that, following a medical screening, a prisoner is interviewed by a classification deputy that houses him on the appropriate floor of the facility. The prisoner is then assigned a particular cell and bunk by a floor tower deputy and taken to the cell by another deputy.

When a prisoner needs a lower bunk for medical reasons, but a lower bunk is not available, deputies provide the prisoner with a temporary plastic sled or "boat" that is placed on the floor of the cell with a mattress and bedding. The prisoner sleeps in the boat until a lower bunk becomes available.

When Plaintiff was booked into the facility on March 5, 2008, he was examined by a registered nurse. Plaintiff complained of chronic pain from prior injuries and walked with a limp. He was prescribed a cane and a lower bunk. The registered nurse entered this information into the Jail Information Management System ("JIMS"). When Plaintiff arrived at his assigned cell, a prisoner using a wheel chair was already assigned to the lower bunk and a boat would not fit in the cell because of the wheelchair's presence. Over the next ten days, Plaintiff asked deputies to move him to a lower bunk, but moving him to a lower bunk was continually deferred on to the next shift and he was not moved. On March 16, while exiting the upper bunk, Plaintiff's cane broke and he fell to the floor and suffered injury.

Plaintiff was taken to the medical clinic complaining of pain in his right shoulder, back, and forehead and had a small abrasion on his upper chest. His neck and shoulder x-rays were normal and he was prescribed Ibuprofin for a neck and shoulder strain. He was given Motrin and muscle relaxers daily from March 19, 2008 to April 28, 2008. Plaintiff was examined six more times over the next two months with continual improvement and a normal CT scan. He was released from custody on May 12, 2008.

DISCUSSION

Summary judgment should be granted when "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a). The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986). If the moving party meets this burden, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to set forth specific facts showing that a genuine issue remains for trial. Id. at 256-57.

A moving party can meet its initial burden by "produc[ing] evidence negating an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim or defense or [by] show[ing] that the nonmoving party does not have enough evidence of an essential element to carry its ultimate burden of persuasion at trial."

Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Co., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000). If the moving party meets this burden of production, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to "produce enough evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact." Id. at 1103 (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)). Evidence raises a genuine issue "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In determining whether there are genuine issues of material fact, the Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Margolis v. Ryan, 140 F.3d 850, 852 (9th Cir. 1998).

I. 42 U.S.C. § 1983

Plaintiff's § 1983 claim is based on Defendant's failure to place him in a lower bunk and provide appropriate medical care following his fall. Plaintiff's claims are only asserted against the County. A municipality may only be liable under § 1983 if the municipality "'subjects' a person to a deprivation of rights or 'causes' a person 'to be subjected' to such deprivation." Connick v. Thompson, 131 S. Ct. 1350, 1359 (2011) (quoting Monell v. New York City Dept. of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 692 (1978)). Municipalities are not ...


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