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Watkins v. Singh

United States District Court, Eastern District of California

January 9, 2015

VAMIL SINGH, et al., Defendants.



Plaintiff is a California prisoner proceeding pro se with an action for violation of civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His remaining claims arise under the Eighth Amendment against defendants Dr. Bick and Dr. Dhillon[1] and concern medical treatment. Defendants Bick and Dhillon have filed a motion for summary judgment.

I. Plaintiffs Claims

In his complaint, which is signed under the penalty of perjury, plaintiff asserts that between January and April, 2005 he suffered from intermittent symptoms including severe chest pain and difficulty breathing which he believes resulted from heart problems. On April 25, 2005, plaintiff suffered from chest pain and was taken by gurney to the emergency room at the California Medical Facility (CMF). When he arrived at the emergency room, he was given nitroglycerin and placed on oxygen.

After plaintiff stabilized, plaintiff was approached by a Dr. Francis who asked plaintiff about his condition. After plaintiff explained his condition to Dr. Francis, Dr. Francis indicated to plaintiff that she would like to have plaintiff sent to an outside hospital for an angiogram. Dr. Francis asked plaintiff if he would consent to the outside visit and plaintiff indicated that he would.

Minutes before Dr. Francis approached plaintiff, plaintiff heard Francis argue with defendant Dr. Dhillon as to why he would not have plaintiff sent to an outside hospital for an angiogram. Defendant Dhillon stated to Francis that it was not necessary. As they argued, defendant Dhillon called cardiologist Dr. Dassah. After Dhillon hung up, Dhillon told Francis that Dr. Dassah stated it was not necessary to send plaintiff to an outside hospital. At that point, Dr. Francis told Dr. Dhillon that it was her opinion that plaintiff should be sent to an outside facility and that his normal electrocardiogram results should not dictate whether an outside visit should occur. As plaintiffs treating physician, it was up to defendant Dr. Dhillon whether to send plaintiff to an outside facility for an angiogram and he elected not to.

Also on April 25, 2005, defendant Dr. Bick, the Chief Medical Officer at CMF, looked over plaintiff and was aware of his situation as plaintiff had made requests to Bick that he be sent to an outside hospital for an angiogram or heart scan. Dr. Bick denied plaintiffs request.

Plaintiff was seen by cardiologist Dr. Dassah on April 27, 2005 and was given a treadmill test.

On June 22, 2010, plaintiff received the results of an ultrasound of his heart. The heart specialist indicated to plaintiff that he has mild mitral regurgitation of the small heart valve; a leaky heart valve. Plaintiff asserts that had he received better treatment through the years, he would not have this condition.

II. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate when it is demonstrated 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). A party asserting that a fact cannot be disputed must support the assertion by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials. . ." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A).

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. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). "[A] complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Id.

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 does exist. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.. 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). In attempting to establish the existence of this factual dispute, the opposing party may not rely upon the allegations or denials of their 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 the dispute exists or show that the materials cited by the movant do not establish the absence of a genuine dispute. 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 631. 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 ...

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