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Tilford v. Chau

United States District Court, S.D. California

July 1, 2014

J. CHAU, et al., Defendants.


GONZALO P. CURIEL, District Judge.


On October 15, 2010, Plaintiff Orlando Leroy Tilford ("Plaintiff"), an inmate housed at the Donovan Correctional facility proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a Complaint ("Complaint") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff contends that (1) his Eighth Amendment rights were violated when prison officials discontinued his morphine prescription (Id. at 2-3); and (2) his due process rights were violated because he was deprived of a fair hearing. (Id. at 5.) On October 10, 2013, Defendants J. Chau, M.D. and R. Walker, D.O. ("Defendants") filed a Motion for Summary Judgment ("MSJ"). (ECF No.10.) Plaintiff failed to file a Response.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), Magistrate Judge Mitchell D. Dembin submitted a Report and Recommendation ("R&R") to this Court on May 13, 2014. (Dkt. No. 30.) Plaintiff did not file objections to the R&R. This Court ADOPTS Judge Dembin's R&R in its entirety and GRANTS Defendants's Motion for Summary Judgment.


Defendant J. Chau, M.D., is employed by Donovan Correctional Facility and served as Plaintiff's primary care physician. (ECF No. 22-4; ECF No. 22-5.) On January 10, 2012, Dr. Chau diagnosed Plaintiff with a number of medical conditions, including avascular necrosis in both hips and knees, and chronic pain stemming from the avacular necrosis. (Id. at 103.) Dr. Chau ordered that Plaintiff's current medications including morphine be continued, and informed Plaintiff multiple times the importance of adhering to his medications. (Id.) However, Plaintiff's laboratory report showed that he was negative for hydromorphone. (Id. at 77.) Dr. Chau believed that Plaintiff was diverting his medication, and told Plaintiff that the Pain Management Committee would decide whether Plaintiff would be changed to an alternative medication treatment because of the diversion issue. (Id. at 69.)

On May 11, 2012, the Pain Management Committee, upon evaluating the evidence presented by Dr. Chau, recommended that Plaintiff be tapered off morphine but remain on Ibuprofen. (ECF No. 22-4, Ex. C. at 58-59.) Plaintiff complained of severe pain since being taken off morphine and filed two 602 Administrative Appeals consecutively. (Id.) Dr. Chau interviewed with Plaintiff for each of his appeals, increased his Ibuprofen, but denied his request of reinstating morphine. (Id. at 47, Ex. D.) Dr. Walker reviewed Dr. Chau's opinion and concurred with Dr. Chau. (ECF No. 22-3, Ex. B; ECF No. 22-4, Ex. E.) Dr. Walker also concluded that Plaintiff no longer needed morphine treatment and his pain could be managed with other medications. (ECF No. 22-3, Ex. B.)

On January 4, 2013, Dr. Chau recommended that Plaintiff receive Neurontin, which was denied by Dr. Seeley, Chief Medical Executive, on the ground that formulatory medications would have to be tried before Neurontin. (ECF No. 22-4 at 17-18.) Upon Plaintiff's appeal regarding the denail of Neurontin, Dr. Chau recommended Plaintiff instead take Amitriptyline to help his sleep difficulty. (Id. 15-16.) On February 20, 2013, a multi-disciplinary meeting was held to discuss Plaintiff's conditions. (Id. at 14.) The medical professionals at the meeting agreed that Plaintiff should remain on Ibuprofen and Amitriptyline for treatment of pain since he did not exhibit difficulty with daily activities. (Id.)


The district court's role in reviewing a Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation is set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Under this statute, the district court "shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report... to which objection is made, " and "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." Id . When no objections are filed, a district court may assume the correctness of the magistrate judge's findings of fact and decide the motion on the applicable law. Campbell v. U.S. Dist. Court , 501 F.2d 196, 206 (9th Cir. 1974); Johnson v. Nelson , 142 F.Supp.2d 1215, 1217 (S.D. Cal. 2001).


The legal standard governing a motion for summary judgment is correctly recited in the R&R and incorporated in this Order. (Dkt. No. 30.) Summary Judgment should be granted "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The Court holds the pro se Complaint to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Estelle v. Gamble , 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976).

"Section 1983 imposes two essential proof requirements upon a claimant: (1) that a person acting under color of state law committed the conduct at issue, and (2) that the conduct deprived the claimant of some right, privilege, or immunity protected by Constitution or laws of the United States." Leer v. Murphy , 844 F.2d 528, 632-33 (9th Cir. 1988); see also 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff must be able to prove a violation of rights, which would give rise to a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff presents ...

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