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Gilchrist v. Cate

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Francisco Division

August 5, 2014

REABERT C. GILCHRIST, Plaintiff,
v.
MATTHEW CATE, et al. Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

RICHARD SEEBORG, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se in this civil rights action brought under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, in which he alleges that defendants, employees of San Quentin State Prison, were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. The remaining defendants (Aiello and Zeltmann) move for summary judgment. For the reasons stated herein, defendants' motions for summary judgment are GRANTED as to all claims against all defendants.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are undisputed. On the evening of October 18, 2010 plaintiff reported to work at his evening (PM) cook position in San Quentin's H-Unit kitchen. (Aiello's Mot. to Dismiss & Mot. for Summ. J. ("Aiello MSJ") at 7.) Prior to the start of that day's PM meal program, plaintiff came to Officer Aiello, the officer assigned to supervise inmates employed in the H-Unit kitchen, requesting a job reassignment after he reported experiencing pain and numbness in his thigh. ( Id.; Compl. at 10-11.) Because plaintiff did not present Aiello with a medical clearance from his physician excusing him from his PM Cook duties, Aiello declined plaintiff's request for reassignment to a tray scullery position. (Aiello MSJ at 7.) As a result, plaintiff reported for his normal work assignment that day and continued to work throughout the evening. ( Id. )

During his shift, plaintiff informed Officer Zeltmann, the correctional supervising cook assigned to the H-Unit kitchen, that he was unhappy with his job assignment and was contemplating calling a "Man Down"[1] after that evening's meal service. (Zeltmann's Mot. to Dismiss & Mot. for Summ. J. ("Zeltmann MSJ") at 7.) During this conversation, Zeltmann did not observe that plaintiff exhibited any injuries that would have precluded him from carrying out his PM Cook duties; Zeltmann believed that plaintiff was simply unhappy with his job assignment and was not in need of any medical assistance. ( Id. at 7-8.) After the meal service was completed, defendants observed plaintiff walk to a wall, sit down and call "Man Down." (Aiello MSJ at 7; Zeltmann MSJ at 8.) After investigating the situation, Aiello issued plaintiff a Rules Violation Report for his refusal to work without a valid excuse to do so. ( Id. )

Plaintiff disputes several substantive factual assertions made by Aiello and Zeltmann. Plaintiff disputes Aiello and Zeltmann's claim that they were not aware of plaintiff's medical condition prior to or on the date of the incident. (Pl.'s Opp. to Aiello MSJ at 3-4.) He also asserts that he never requested that Aiello reassign him from his PM Cook position to the tray scullery position. ( Id. at 5.)

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is proper where the pleadings, discovery and affidavits demonstrate 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). Material facts are those which may affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute as to a material fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id. The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of identifying those portions of the pleadings, discovery and affidavits which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact . Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Where the moving party will have the burden of proof on an issue at trial, it must affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party. On an issue for which the opposing party by contrast will have the burden of proof at trial the moving party need only point out "that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Id. at 325.

The court is only concerned with disputes over material facts and "factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. It is not the task of the court to scour the record in search of a genuine issue of triable fact. Keenan v. Allan, 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996). The nonmoving party has the burden of identifying, with reasonable particularity, the evidence that precludes summary judgment. Id. If the nonmoving party fails to make this showing, "the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.

II. Claims

A. Eighth Amendment

Deliberate indifference to a prisoner's serious medical needs violates the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). A determination of "deliberate indifference" involves an examination of two elements: (1) the seriousness of the prisoner's medical needs; and (2) the nature of the defendant's response to those needs. McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. ...


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