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Drew Martin v. San Diego

March 6, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Michael M. Anello United States District Judge


Plaintiff Drew Martin filed this civil rights action against Defendants San Diego County, San Diego County Deputy Sheriffs Hardy and Navarro, and Stephanie Buchert, M.D, alleging violations of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, and related state law claims. Defendants Buchert, Hardy, and San Diego County move the Court for summary judgment as to all remaining claims.*fn1 Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, received notice of the pending motions pursuant to Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952, 957 (9th Cir. 1998) (en banc), cert. denied, 527 U.S. 1035 (1999), and Klingele v. Eikenberry, 849 F.2d 409 (9th Cir. 1988), but has not filed a response. [Doc. Nos. 43 & 46-3.] For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motions.


According to the allegations in Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint [Doc. No. 10], while incarcerated in the Administrative Segregation Unit ("ASU") at Vista Detention Facility in Vista, California, Plaintiff encountered a violent fellow inmate, Joaquin Martinez. Martinez suffered from diagnosed mental health problems, and was being treated by staff psychiatrist, Defendant Stephanie Buchert. Martinez allegedly threatened Plaintiff, prompting Plaintiff to submit a grievance form on September 9, 2010 advising Defendant Buchert of Martinez's increasingly aggressive and hostile behavior. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Buchert informed Martinez of the grievance, prompting Martinez to confront Plaintiff directly with the information. Plaintiff complained about the situation to Defendant Deputy Hardy, and requested a transfer away from Martinez. On September 22, 2010, Martinez entered Plaintiff's cell and stabbed Plaintiff three times in the abdominal area and slashed Plaintiff's face.*fn2 Plaintiff was evacuated to the trauma center at Scripps Memorial Hospital for surgery. Upon discharge, Plaintiff returned to the ASU, where he vomited blood. He ultimately spent a week in the medical unit before being transferred back to the ASU.

Based on these allegations, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Hardy failed to protect him from Martinez, and was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment and California state law. Plaintiff further claims that Defendants Hardy and San Diego County are liable for failing to summon immediately necessary medical care, as required by California Government Code section 845.6. Plaintiff also alleges Defendant San Diego County maintained customs, policies, and/or practices that resulted in his constitutional injuries. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Buchert owed him an affirmative duty of care under Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California, 17 Cal. 3d 425 (1976), which she breached when she failed to protect him from Martinez's threats of bodily harm. Finally, Plaintiff alleges a state law negligence claim against both Defendants Hardy and Buchert, and a California Civil Code section 52.1 claim for damages against Defendant Hardy.


The following material facts are not reasonably in dispute.*fn3 In 2008, Joaquin Martinez was convicted of first degree murder, had a history of substance abuse, including methamphetamine and heroin, and was receiving treatment from several mental healthcare professionals who noted his need for anti-psychotic medication and his extensive history of highly aggressive behavior. Martinez had murdered a woman, and cut off her hands and feet. He kept pictures of the dismembered body parts in his cell in the ASU at Vista Detention Facility. The ASU is the safest housing unit at Vista Detention Facility, as each prisoner is locked in his cell 23 hours per day. The inmates' cells are inspected weekly for contraband, including razor blades, filed down toothbrushes, and fishing line. Martinez was subject to the most restrictions possible, and was considered to be one of the most dangerous prisoners in the jail.

In an entry dated August 2, 2010, Defendant Buchert noted that Martinez had been self-mutilating his face. She increased his anti-depressant medications and continued his anti-psychotics. On September 9, 2010, Plaintiff filed an inmate grievance stating that Martinez was "becoming more aggressive and hostile towards other inmates, especially me." See Buchert MSJ, Ex. "E." The next day, a staff psychiatrist, Matthew Carroll, examined Martinez, diagnosed him with psychotic and depressive disorders, noted his antisocial personality traits, and determined he was competent to stand trial. Dr. Carroll also noted that Martinez had a history of not taking his medications. On September 13, 2012, Defendant Buchert increased Martinez's anti-psychotic medication after Martinez admitted to having thoughts that "someone is trying to steal my soul." See Buchert MSJ, Ex. "F."

Plaintiff testified during his deposition that Martinez knew how to manipulate fishing line to unlock his cell door. Plaintiff did not inform Defendant Hardy, or any one else, that Martinez could unlock his cell door. The day Martinez assaulted Plaintiff, Martinez was observed snorting something prior to the incident. Defendant Hardy was off duty and not present when Martinez assaulted Plaintiff; he first learned of the incident the next day. After the assault, medication was found in Martinez's possession, suggesting that he had not been taking his medication as prescribed.


1. Legal Standard

A court must grant summary judgment if the pleadings and supporting documents, viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c);

see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The moving party bears the initial responsibility of presenting the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record, together with affidavits, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. If the moving party meets its initial responsibility, the burden then shifts to the opposing party who must demonstrate the existence of a factual dispute. The fact in contention must be material, i.e., a fact that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986), and the dispute must be genuine, i.e., the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id. at 250; see Triton Energy Corp. v. Square D. Co., 68 F.3d 1216, 1221 (9th Cir. 1995).

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e) compels the non-moving party to "set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial" and not to "rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleading." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment against a party who, after adequate time for discovery, fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an ...

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