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Michael Bazley v. M. Gates

March 7, 2012



Plaintiff is a former state prisoner proceeding without counsel in a civil rights action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn1 He proceeds on his August 24, 2010 amended complaint on claims that defendants Walker, Traquina, Aguilera, and Saukhla ("defendants") were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment when they denied him medical treatment for his chronic Hepatitis C. Plaintiff also alleges defendant Saukhla, his primary care physician, prescribed plaintiff a drug knowing it would significantly damage plaintiff's liver, and threatened to punish plaintiff if he refused the drug.

Pending before the court are defendants' motion to compel (Dckt. No. 36), plaintiff's motion to compel (Dckt. No. 38), and defendants' motion for summary judgment (Dckt. No. 47).

For the reasons stated below, the undersigned denies both motions to compel and recommends that defendants' summary judgment motion be granted.

I. Motions to Compel

On January 7, 2011, the undersigned issued a discovery and scheduling order requiring that all requests for written discovery be served no later that February 10, 2011, and that any motions to compel be filed by April 13, 2011. Dckt. No. 31 at 4.

Defendants filed a motion to compel on April 12, 2011. Dckt. No. 36. Plaintiff filed a motion to compel, dated April 16, 2011. Dckt. No. 38 at 1.

Defendants move to compel plaintiff's response to their requests for production of documents and interrogatories. They contend that plaintiff's responses are incomplete, non-responsive, and tantamount to no responses at all. In light of the recommendation herein to grant defendants' motion for summary judgment, defendants' motion to compel further discovery responses is denied as moot.

Plaintiff moves to compel defendants' responses to his requests for production of documents and interrogatories. Plaintiff's motion, dated April 16, 2011, was filed after the deadline set by the court. Plaintiff asks that the court deem his motion timely filed, explaining in a declaration signed under penalty of perjury that on April 11, 2011, he suffered a stroke and was taken to an outside hospital. Dckt. No. 38 at 69.*fn2 He states that the stroke left him partially paralyzed, and that when he was released from the hospital on April 13th, he had limited access to the prison library. Id.; see Dckt. No. 45 (including copies of plaintiff's April 11, 2011 medical records).Good cause appearing, the court extends the discovery deadline, nunc pro tunc, to April 16, 2011, and deems plaintiff's motion to compel timely filed.

Through his motion, plaintiff claims that defendants' responses are incomplete, non-responsive, and tantamount to no response at all. He claims that his discovery requests are relevant, do not relate to privileged matters, and that defendants' failure to provide adequate responses is not justified. He also argues defendants are required to produce documents in their possession, custody or control. Attached to the motion are 65 pages of defendants' discovery responses. Plaintiff does not identify which request for production or interrogatory responses he contends are inadequate. Nor does plaintiff make any specific argument regarding why defendants' objections are not well-founded or should be disregarded by the court.

Defendants oppose plaintiff's motion, calling it "a copycat reaction to defendants' motion to compel," and arguing that plaintiff "merely parroted some verbiage from defendants' motion, but did not include any analysis as to why his motion to compel is warranted." Dckt. No. 42 at 2. Defendants argue that their discovery responses are complete and adequate, and that plaintiff's motion should be denied because he fails to indicate which of their responses, if any, are deficient, and which of their objections, if any, are inappropriate. Id. Through his reply brief, plaintiff responds "that every answer in the four corners of the Defendants['] responses is inadequate and incomplete." Dckt. No. 44 at 2.

As the moving party, plaintiff bears the burden of informing the court which discovery requests are the subject of his motion to compel, which of defendants' responses are disputed, why he believes defendants' responses are deficient, why defendants' objections are not justified, and why the information he seeks through discovery is relevant to the prosecution of this action. See, e.g., Brooks v. Alameida, No. CIV S-03-2343 JAM EFB P, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9568, 2009 WL 331358, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Feb. 10, 2009) ("Without knowing which responses plaintiff seeks to compel or on what grounds, the court cannot grant plaintiff's motion."); Ellis v. Cambra, No. CIV 02-05646-AWI-SMS PC, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109050, 2008 WL 860523, at *4 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 27, 2008) ("Plaintiff must inform the court which discovery requests are the subject of his motion to compel, and, for each disputed response, inform the court why the information sought is relevant and why Defendant's objections are not justified.").

As noted above, plaintiff has not provided specific arguments as to why any response or objection is deficient. Merely stating generally that defendants' responses are inadequate is not sufficient. Plaintiff claims generally that his motion should be granted because he seeks relevant information and information that is not privileged. However, a review of the discovery responses attached to plaintiff's motion reveals that none of defendants' objections are grounded in a claimed privilege. See Dckt. No. 38 at 3-67. And while a handful of the objections are based on relevance, defendants provide alternate grounds for those objections. Id. The undersigned will not review each of plaintiff's discovery requests and each of defendants' responses in order to determine whether any of defendants' responses are somehow deficient. Plaintiff, who indicates that he received defendants' discovery responses on February 23, 2011, id. at 2, has had ample time to do so himself. Plaintiff has not met his burden of describing why the information he seeks through discovery is relevant to the prosecution of this action, or why any particular response or objection is inadequate. See, e.g., Williams v. Flint, No. CIV S-06-1238 FCD GGH P, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98794, 2007 WL 2274520, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 3, 2007) ("It is plaintiff's burden to describe why a particular response is inadequate. It is not enough to generally argue that all responses are incomplete."). Accordingly, plaintiff's motion to compel is denied.

II. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment

A. Undisputed Facts

Plaintiff was infected with the Hepatitis C virus when he began serving his prison sentence at the Deuel Vocational Institute in July 2009. Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. ("Defs.' MSJ"), Stmt. of Undisp. Facts in Supp. Thereof ("SUF") SUF 1.*fn3 At all times relevant to plaintiff's complaint, defendant Walker was the Chief of California Prison Health Care Services, Office of Third Level Appeals, defendant Dr. A. Traquina was the Chief Medical Officer at California State Prison, Solano (CSP-Solano), defendant Dr. N. Aguilera was the Chief Medical Officer at California Medical Facility, and defendant Dr. Saukhla was a primary care physician at California Medical Facility. SUF 2.

Plaintiff was at the Deuel Vocational Institute Reception Center from July 17, 2009 through October 28, 2009. SUF 3. Reception Centers are designed to house and process incoming inmates by compiling and evaluating the inmates' records, including their criminal, medical, mental health and social histories, to identify specific placement needs before assigning them to a specific "mainline" prison. SUF 3.

On August 4, 2009, plaintiff submitted an appeal, which was assigned log number DVI-15-09-13038, claiming that the medical department failed to provide treatment for his Hepatitis C virus, despite his requests on July 17, 2009 and July 23, 2009. SUF 4. This appeal was denied by Deuel staff members at the informal, first, and second levels of review. SUF 5.

The Director's Level response was signed by defendant Walker. SUF 5. Walker is not a licensed medical professional and is not authorized to provide medical care. SUF 6. Walker concurred with the first and second level appeals decisions, which were based on a review of plaintiff's appeal, his Unit Health Record, and dialogue with clinicians involved in his care. SUF 7. In both the first and second level appeals, plaintiff was informed that Hepatitis C treatment is not provided to reception center inmates - an inmate must be at a mainline institution or at the reception center for at least 18 months. SUF 7. Reception Center inmates are not eligible for Hepatitis C treatment because they are usually housed there for a very short time. SUF 8. The treatment itself takes 48 weeks. SUF 29.

On October 28, 2009, plaintiff was transferred to the California Medical Facility. SUF 9. Dr. Saukhla provided treatment to plaintiff, mainly for his seizure disorder. SUF 10. On November 17, 2009, plaintiff submitted a health care request form indicating that he wanted Hepatitis C treatment. SUF 11. Dr. Saukhla ...

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