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Ricardo Valdez v. Correctional Officers Walker

May 9, 2012

RICARDO VALDEZ,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WALKER, GUFFEE, AND VORON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David Alan Ezra United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR

SUMMARY JUDGMENT Before the Court is Defendants Walker, Guffee, and Voron's (collectively, "Defendants") Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. # 46.) Pursuant to Local Rule 230(l), the Motion was submitted without oral argument. After reviewing the supporting and opposing memoranda, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion.

BACKGROUND

This matter involves a series of alleged incidents in which requests for medical attention made by Plaintiff Ricardo Valdez ("Plaintiff") were ignored over the course of approximately one year's time. ("FAC," Doc. # 12 at 3.) Plaintiff is currently an inmate at the Mule Creek State Prison ("Mule Creek") in Ione, California. (Id. at 1; Valdez Depo. at 63.) He was housed in an administrative segregation unit at California State Prison, Sacramento ("CSP-Sacramento") during the alleged incidents that form the basis of this action. (FAC at 2.) Defendants Walker, Voron, and Guffee were Correctional Officers at CSP-Sacramento during this time. ("Walker Decl.," Doc. # 46-4 ¶ 1; "Guffee Decl.," Doc. # 46-5 ¶ 2; "Voron Decl.," Doc. # 46-6 ¶ 1.)

Plaintiff Valdez has a long history of heart problems and suffered a heart attack at approximately age 38, which caused major heart damages. (Valdez Depo. at 15:5--16:18.) As a result of his heart problems, Valdez was prescribed numerous medications for his heart, blood, and veins. (Id. at 17:13--18:20.) Valdez' health record reflects a history of poor compliance with his blood pressure medication, which raises the risk of heart complications, as well as a history of diverting pain medications for personal gain. ("Heatley Decl.," Doc. # 46-3 ¶¶ 17--18.)

According to Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint ("FAC"), on the morning of April 17, 2006, Plaintiff informed Defendant Walker that he was experiencing severe chest pains and needed to see medical clinicians. (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff alleges that Walker indicated that he would call for help, but that he never returned. (Id.) At about 12:30 p.m. that day, Plaintiff allegedly notified two other officers not party to this case that he was experiencing numbness in his arm and hand. (Id.) Plaintiff was eventually placed in handcuffs and escorted down the hall, where he collapsed. (Id. at 4--5.) Plaintiff was taken to the infirmary on a gurney, given pain medication, and released. (Id. at 5.)

Plaintiff also alleges that sometime prior to the April 17, 2006 event, Plaintiff notified Defendants Guffee and Voron that he was experiencing severe chest pains and needed medical attention. (Id. at 3--4.) According to Plaintiff, Guffee told Plaintiff to wait for the routine medical walkthrough, which would have been in approximately three hours, and when Plaintiff protested the three-hour wait, Voron replied, "You're not dead, so you can wait." (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants neglected his medical needs from April 11, 2006 through February 15, 2007. (Id. at 5.) According to the FAC, Defendants' neglect resulted in Plaintiff suffering a massive heart attack that required surgery in February 2007. (Id., Ex. A.)

On August 22, 2008, Plaintiff filed the original Complaint, alleging that a "Jane Doe" was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs when she transported him to receive medical attention using a gurney instead of vehicle transportation. (Doc. # 1.) In an Order filed on August 26, 2009, the Court found that Plaintiff failed to state a claim for deliberate indifference under the Eighth Amendment as to Jane Doe and dismissed the Complaint with leave to amend. (Doc. # 11.) Plaintiff was granted 30 days within which to file an amended complaint.

On September 11, 2009, Plaintiff filed the present FAC. (FAC, Doc. # 12.) The FAC alleges that Plaintiff's Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated and seeks compensation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On October 5, 2009, the Court filed an Order dismissing Plaintiff's Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment claims. (Doc. # 13.) Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim remains. (Id.)

On August 12, 2010, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss, contending that Plaintiff failed to properly exhaust his administrative remedies. (Doc. # 25.) On March 30, 2011, the Court denied Defendants' Motion to Dismiss with respect to Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim in the FAC. (Doc. # 35.) In reaching that conclusion, the Court noted that Plaintiff's prison grievance "clearly complain[ed] about the pattern of alleged indifference to his medical conditions leading up to and resulting from the April 17, 2006 incident." (Id. at 12.)

On October 26, 2011, Defendants filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment ("Motion"). (Doc. # 46.) On February 7, 2012, Plaintiff filed an Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.*fn1 (Doc. # 53.) On February 24, 2012, Defendants filed a Reply. (Doc. # 56.)

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56 requires summary judgment to be granted when "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits 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 Porter v. Cal. Dep't of Corr., 419 F.3d 885, 891 (9th Cir. 2005); Addisu v. Fred Meyer, Inc., 198 F.3d 1130, 1134 (9th Cir. 2000). A main purpose of summary judgment is to dispose of factually unsupported claims and defenses. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323--24 (1986).

Summary judgment must be granted against a party that fails to demonstrate facts to establish what will be an essential element at trial. See id. at 323. A moving party without the ultimate burden of persuasion at trial-usually, but not always, the defendant-has both the initial burden of production and the ultimate burden of persuasion on a motion for summary judgment. Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Cos., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000). The burden initially falls upon the moving party to identify for the court those "portions of the materials on file that it believes demonstrate the absence of any ...


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