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Dean v. Gonzales

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 6, 2014

ALTON E. DEAN, Plaintiff,
v.
KATHRYN M. GONZALES, et al., Defendants.

ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

KENDALL J. NEWMAN, Magistrate Judge.

Introduction

Plaintiff is a state prisoner, proceeding without counsel, with a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983.[1] This action is proceeding on the fifth amended complaint filed November 28, 2011, against defendants Gonzales, Neustadt and Hailey-Currey. (ECF No. 34.) Plaintiff alleges that he received inadequate medical care while housed at the Sacramento County Jail. (Id.)

Pending before the court are cross-motions for summary judgment. (ECF Nos. 96, 103.) For the reasons stated herein, the undersigned recommends that defendants' motion be granted in part and denied in part, and that plaintiff's motion be denied.

Legal Standard for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate when it is demonstrated that the standard set forth in Federal Rule of Civil procedure 56 is met. "The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is 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).

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) (quoting then-numbered Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).) "Where the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof at trial, the moving party need only prove that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Nursing Home Pension Fund, Local 144 v. Oracle Corp. (In re Oracle Corp. Sec. Litig.) , 627 F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Celotex Corp. , 477 U.S. at 325); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 Advisory Committee Notes to 2010 Amendments (recognizing that "a party who does not have the trial burden of production may rely on a showing that a party who does have the trial burden cannot produce admissible evidence to carry its burden as to the fact"). 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. Celotex Corp. , 477 U.S. at 322. "[A] complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Id. at 323.

Consequently, if the moving party meets its initial responsibility, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue as to any material fact actually exists. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). In attempting to establish the existence of such a factual dispute, the opposing party may not rely upon the allegations or denials of its pleadings, but is required to tender evidence of specific facts in the form of affidavits, and/or admissible discovery material in support of its contention that such a dispute exists. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Matsushita , 475 U.S. at 586 n.11. The opposing party must demonstrate that the fact in contention is material, i.e., a fact that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pacific Elec. Contractors Ass'n , 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987), and that the dispute is genuine, i.e., the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party, see Wool v. Tandem Computers, Inc. , 818 F.2d 1433, 1436 (9th Cir. 1987).

In the endeavor to establish the existence of a factual dispute, the opposing party need not establish a material issue of fact conclusively in its favor. It is sufficient that "the claimed factual dispute be shown to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial." T.W. Elec. Serv. , 809 F.2d at 630. Thus, the "purpose of summary judgment is to pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial.'" Matsushita , 475 U.S. at 587 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e) advisory committee's note on 1963 amendments).

In resolving a summary judgment motion, the court examines the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The evidence of the opposing party is to be believed. See Anderson , 477 U.S. at 255. All reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the facts placed before the court must be drawn in favor of the opposing party. See Matsushita , 475 U.S. at 587. Nevertheless, inferences are not drawn out of the air, and it is the opposing party's obligation to produce a factual predicate from which the 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 586 (citation omitted).

Legal Standard for Claim Alleging Inadequate Medical Care

Although not entirely clear, it appears that plaintiff was a pretrial detainee during the relevant time period he was incarcerated at the Sacramento County Jail.

A pretrial detainee's protections against cruel and unusual punishment arise under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, but are evaluated under the Eighth Amendment's deliberate indifference standards. See Simmons v. Navajo Cnty., Ariz. , 609 F.3d 1011, 1017 (9th Cir. 2010); Clouthier v. Cnty. of Contra Costa , 591 F.3d 1232, 1241 (9th Cir. 2010) ("We have long analyzed claims that correction facility officials violated pretrial detainees' constitutional rights by failing to address their medical needs (including suicide prevention) under a deliberate indifference' standard."); Lolli v. Cnty. of Orange , 351 F.3d 410, 418-19 (9th Cir. 2003).

To establish a claim for failure to provide timely or adequate medical care, a prisoner must show that he suffered from a serious medical need and that prison officials were deliberately indifferent to that need. Estelle v. Gamble , 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). In the Ninth Circuit, the test for deliberate indifference consists of two parts, an objective prong and a subjective prong. See Clement v. Gomez , 298 F.3d 898, 904 (9th Cir. 2002) (citation omitted); McGuckin v. Smith , 974 F.2d 1050 (9th Cir. 1991), overruled on other grounds by WMX Techs., Inc. v. Miller , 104 F.3d 1133 (9th Cir. 1997) (en banc). Objectively, a prisoner must show a serious medical need, that is, a need that involves more than a de minimis injury that could result in further significant injury or the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain if left untreated. Estelle , 429 U.S. at 104; Jett v. Penner , 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006). Subjectively, deliberate indifference requires a purposeful act or failure to respond to that pain or possible medical need and harm caused by the indifference. Estelle , 429 U.S. at 104-05; Jett , 439 F.3d at 1096.

Plaintiff's Claims

Plaintiff is a wheelchair bound hemiplegic. (ECF No. 34 at 7.) Plaintiff alleges that defendants denied his requests for Tylenol with Codeine for pain, Dilantin for seizures, and leg bags and catheters, for the entire period of his incarceration from March 2, 2010, to April 26, 2011. ( Id. at 3.) Plaintiff alleges that on March 2, 2010, his pain medication was discontinued and he never received Dilantin. ( Id. at 5.) Plaintiff also alleges that he did not receive leg bags and catheters. ( Id. at 6.)

Plaintiff alleges that he had several life threatening seizures while housed at the Sacramento County Jail. ( Id. at 7.) Plaintiff alleges that he suffered from bed sores, urine and bladder infections as a ...


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