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William Meador v. C.S.P. Dental Annex

November 9, 2011

WILLIAM MEADOR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
C.S.P. DENTAL ANNEX, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in an action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Through the present motion, defendants Jennings, Crispin, and Zhang seek summary judgment in their favor pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Dckt No. 37. For the reasons set forth below, the court recommends that the motion be granted.

I. Background

This action proceeds on the complaint filed by plaintiff on March 2, 2010. Dckt. No. 1. That complaint alleges that defendants violated plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights during the his treatment for a dental problem.

The following facts are not disputed by the parties: Plaintiff is an inmate housed at California State Prison - Solano. Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J., Stmt. of Undisp. Facts in Supp. Thereof ("DUF"), Dckt. No. 37-1, 1. On October 2, 2009, plaintiff went to the dental clinic to have two teeth extracted. DUF 3. Prior to the extraction, plaintiff signed an informed consent form, which disclosed, among other things, that extraction could result in pain, swelling, infection, and bone fragments in the extraction site. DUF 4. The extractions were performed by defendant Jennings, a dentist working for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Hereinafter "CDCR"). DUF 5. Plaintiff attended a post-operative follow-up on October 7, 2009, where defendant Crispin, a dentist working for the CDCR, observed that one of the tooth extraction sites was infected. DUF 6. Defendant Crispin prescribed plaintiff pain medication and antibiotics and advised plaintiff to rinse his mouth after meals and before going to bed. DUF 6.

On October 13, 2009, plaintiff returned to the dental clinic, complaining of pain originating from the infected extraction site. DUF 7. Defendant Zhang, a dentist working for the CDCR, evaluated plaintiff and discovered a bone fragment. DUF 8. Removal of the bone fragment was scheduled for the following day and was performed by defendant Zhang. DUF 8-9. Plaintiff continued to experience pain, and on October 21, 2009, an additional bone fragment was discovered and removed by an individual who is not a party to the present suit. DUF 10. On October 28, 2009, plaintiff reported he was no longer experiencing pain. DUF 12.

II. Summary Judgment Standards

Summary judgment is appropriate when it is demonstrated that there exists "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). Summary judgment avoids unnecessary trials in cases in which the parties do not dispute the facts relevant to the determination of the issues in the case, or in which there is insufficient evidence for a jury to determine those facts in favor of the non-movant. Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 600 (1998); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-50 (1986); Nw. Motorcycle Ass'n v. U.S. Dep't of Agric., 18 F.3d 1468, 1471-72 (9th Cir. 1994). At bottom, a summary judgment motion asks "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52. "When reasonable minds could differ on the material facts at issue, summary judgment is not appropriate." Nw. Motorcycle Ass'n, 18 F.3d at 1472.

Focus on where the burden of proof lies on the issue in question is crucial to summary judgment procedures. "[W]here the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial on a dispositive issue, a summary judgment motion may properly be made in reliance solely on the 'pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file.'" Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). Indeed, summary judgment should be entered, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. See id. at 322. In such a circumstance, summary judgment should be granted, "so long as whatever is before the district court demonstrates that the standard for entry of summary judgment . . . is satisfied." Id. at 323.

Under summary judgment practice, the moving party always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.

Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quotations omitted). The opposing party must demonstrate -- through evidence in the form of affidavits and/or admissible discovery material -- a factual dispute that is both material (i.e., it affects the outcome of the claim under the governing law) and genuine (i.e., the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party). Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-50; Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, n.11 (1986). Alternatively, the opposing party may demonstrate that a material fact is genuinely disputed by "showing that the materials cited [by the moving party] do not establish the absence . . . of a genuine dispute, or that [the moving] party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(B); Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586. As noted, summary judgment should be entered, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322. Thus, "a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Id. at 323.

In resolving a summary judgment motion, the court examines the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits filed by the parties. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The evidence of the opposing party is to be believed, and all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the facts placed before the court must be drawn in his or her favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. Nevertheless, it is the opposing party's obligation to produce a factual predicate from which a favorable inference may be drawn. See Richards v. Nielsen Freight Lines, 602 F. Supp. 1224, 1244-45 (E.D. Cal. 1985), aff'd, 810 F.2d 898, 902 (9th Cir. 1987). Finally, to demonstrate a genuine issue, the opposing party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts . . . . Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (citation omitted).

On October 26, 2010, the court informed plaintiff of the requirements for opposing a motion pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952, 955-60 (9th Cir. 1998) (en banc), cert. denied, 527 U.S. 1035 (1999) (holding that either the district court or the moving party must inform a pro se prisoner of the requirements of Rule 56), and Klingele v. Eikenberry, 849 F.2d 409, 411-12 (9th Cir. 1988).

III. Analysis

Defendants contends they are entitled to summary judgment because plaintiff failed to proffer evidence that they were deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's serious medical need. A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment's proscription of cruel and unusual punishment where he or she deprives a prisoner of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities with a "sufficiently culpable state of mind." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). "An official's deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of serious harm to an inmate -- including the deprivation of a serious medical need -- violates the Eighth Amendment." Conn v. City of Reno, 572 F.3d 1047, 1054-55 (9th Cir. 2009). To succeed on an Eighth Amendment claim predicated on the denial of medical care, a plaintiff must establish that he had a serious medical need and that the defendant's response to that need was deliberately indifferent. Id. at 1055 (quoting Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006)); see also Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). A serious medical need exists if the failure to treat plaintiff's condition could result in further ...


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