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Darryl Brown v. C. Terhune

August 30, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Ronald S.W. Lew Senior, U.S. District Court Judge

ORDER RE: Defendant Kate Macias' Motion for Summary Judgment; Request for Leave to Amend Defendant's Answer [182] On August 23, 2011, Defendant Kate Macias' Motion for Summary Judgment and Request for Leave to Amend Defendant's Answer [182] came on for regular calendar before this Court. The Court having reviewed all papers submitted pertaining to this Motion and having considered all arguments presented to the Court, NOW FINDS AND RULES AS FOLLOWS:


This Action centers around a claim brought by Plaintiff Darryl Brown ("Plaintiff") against six employees of the California State Prison-Los Angeles County ("CSP-LAC") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the alleged violation of Plaintiff's rights under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Plaintiff is a California state inmate who was incarcerated at CSP-LAC, specifically Lancaster State Prison (the "Prison"), at the time of the events giving rise to this Action. Plaintiff claims to suffer from vision impairment caused by his diabetes. Plaintiff alleges that in February 2004, he was injured when he fell on metal stairs while incarcerated at the Prison due to the alleged failure of prison officials and medical personnel to follow a medical prescription to place him in a lower tier/lower bunk, prevent him from falling down stairs and sustaining physical injuries, and provide him with adequate medical treatment after the fall.

Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that on February 1, 2004, he spoke to a correctional officer, N. Jackson, at Plaintiff's cell and told him he was suffering from blurred vision, dizziness and low sugar. Stephanie Johnson, a Medical Technical Assistant ("M.T.A."), told Plaintiff to report his problems at the infirmary when he received his daily insulin shot. Plaintiff, who claims he was wearing his "vision impairment" vest that day, avers that Defendant Kate Macias ("Defendant"), a correctional officer with the California Department of Corrections who was the control booth officer in Plaintiff's yard at the time, instructed Plaintiff to go to the infirmary for his insulin shot. Plaintiff then left his cell to go to the infirmary, unescorted by prison personnel.

As he walked down a metal staircase, Plaintiff lost his balance and fell. Plaintiff was then taken to the prison infirmary, where he was examined and then assessed by Pryor, a registered nurse. Plaintiff stated he had severe pain in his shoulder and back, and that his left hand was numb. Soon after, Dr. Haniffa Cassim ("Dr. Cassim"), the physician on call, called in response to a page from Pryor. Dr. Cassim instructed Pryor to administer Motrin and schedule a follow up examination for the next day. Pryor discharged Plaintiff to the custody of a correctional officer, Weier, who brought Plaintiff to his housing unit.

Plaintiff again saw Dr. Cassim on March 15, 2004, and Dr. Cassim examined Plaintiff at this time. During this examination Plaintiff complained he was suffering from pain in his back, left shoulder and arm, and that he was also suffering from poor vision. Plaintiff requested Dr. Cassim order x-rays or an MRI, but Dr. Cassim advised him these were not necessary. As such, based on this examination, Dr. Cassim diagnosed Plaintiff as a diabetic who had complaints of back pain, but concluded that no further treatment related to the fall was necessary. On March 29, 2004, Dr. Cassim examined Plaintiff a second time, and Plaintiff alleges that during this examination he complained he had pain from the fall and that he also renewed his request for x-rays.

On February 3, 2004, Plaintiff filed a prison grievance inmate "Form 602" appeal ("Form 602") regarding the alleged denial of medical treatment for his injuries related to his February 1, 2004 fall. On February 8, 2004, Plaintiff filed a second grievance requesting a single cell due to his disabilities and alleging that the Prison had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). The two appeals were combined and partially granted at the first level of review on March 16, 2005. Plaintiff was given a lower bunk and lower tier cell, but his request for further medical evaluation was denied, as was his request for a special diabetic diet.*fn1

At the second level of review, Plaintiff's February 3, 2004*fn2 grievance was denied. On December 17, 2004, Plaintiff's inmate appeals were reviewed at the third level of review, the Director's Level. Plaintiff again argued that he was in pain and suffering, and requested to receive x-rays, be provided with a diabetic diet, and that he be given a walking stick, a low bunk/low tier assignment and single cell privileges. The review "determined that the staff had acted appropriately on the Plaintiff's requests" and that Plaintiff's administrative remedies with respect to those appeals had been exhausted. [Decl. of Paul F. Arentz ("Decl. Arentz"), Ex. C, p. 94-95.]

On December 15, 2006, Plaintiff filed the operative Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, raising an Eighth Amendment Claim against six employees of the Prison, seeking monetary, declaratory and injunctive relief.

Specifically, Plaintiff filed suit against Defendants Dr. Cassim, Pryor, Johnson, Macias, Jackson and Weier. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants' conduct violated his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment, and sued all Defendants in their individual and official capacities.

On April 30, 2008, the Court denied Defendants' Motion to Dismiss as to all claims with the exception of Plaintiff's claim for monetary relief against Defendants in their official capacities [61]. On November 10, 2009, this Court granted Summary Judgment on Plaintiff's Section 1983 claim as to all Defendants,*fn3 with the exception of Defendant Macias [141]. Specifically, the Court found that triable issue of fact remained regarding Defendant Macias' liability on Plaintiff's Section 1983 claim. As such, Plaintiff's Section 1983 claim against Defendant Macias is the sole remaining claim in this Action.


A. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A genuine issue is one in which the evidence is such that a reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The moving party can satisfy this burden by: (1) presenting evidence that negates an essential element of the non-moving party's case or (2) demonstrating that the non-moving party failed to establish an essential element of the non-moving party's case on which the non-moving party bears the burden of proving at trial. Id. at 322-23.

Once the moving party establishes the absence of genuine issues of material fact, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to set forth facts showing that a genuine issue of disputed fact remains. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. However, the non-moving party is required by Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 56(e)*fn4 to go beyond the pleadings and designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324. Conclusory allegations unsupported by factual allegations are insufficient to create a triable issue of fact so as to preclude summary judgment. Hansen v. United States, 7 F.3d 137, 138 (9th Cir. 1993)(citing Marks v. Dep't of Justice, 578 F.2d 261, 263 (9th Cir. 1978)). A non-moving party who has ...

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