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Hill v. Director of Corrections

United States District Court, E.D. California

February 12, 2015

KENNETH HILL, Plaintiff,
v.
DIRECTOR OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants.

ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS [1]

EDMUND F. BRENNAN, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in an action brought under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. He alleges Eighth Amendment claims of deliberate indifference to serious medical needs against defendants Bal, Duc, and Menon. Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 47. Plaintiff filed an opposition to defendants' motion, ECF No. 49, and defendants filed a reply, ECF No. 50.[2] For the reasons that follow, defendants' motion for summary judgment should be granted.

I. BACKGROUND[3]

Almost immediately upon his arrival at California State Prison-Sacramento (CSP-Sacramento) in March 2004, plaintiff met with Duc, a doctor at the prison. Pl.'s Dep. 21:1-3, 29:1-11. Thereafter, plaintiff and Duc met every two weeks. Id. at 30:10-13. At some point in 2004, Duc diagnosed plaintiff with an enlarged prostate, prescribed Flomax, and ordered a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. Id. at 37:13-23, 38:12-23.[4] An August 2004 PSA test indicated a PSA level of 5.3 ng/mL. Id. at 38:24-39:4.[5] In April 2006, Duc referred plaintiff to the U.C. Davis Urology Department (UCD-UD). Id. at 40:3-12.[6] An April 20, 2006 consultation report from UCD-UD describes plaintiff's urinary complaints, attributes them to "benign prostatic hyperplasia, " and outlines a treatment plan (which includes a prescription for Flomax). ECF No. 48-6 at 9. Duc was plaintiff's primary treating physician from the time plaintiff arrived at CSP-Sacramento in March 2004 until sometime in 2006, when Menon became plaintiff's primary physician. Pl.'s Dep. 50:3-9, 51:1-18.

PSA tests from June 2005, August 2005, September 2005, December 2005, and March 2006 indicated that plaintiff's PSA level exceeded the normal 4 ng/mL. See ECF No. 48-5 at 21-26. On June 26, 2007 and September 7, 2007, Menon informed plaintiff that his PSA levels were still elevated. Pl.'s Dep. 53:8-13. On September 27, 2007, plaintiff's PSA level was 8.4 ng/mL. Compl. at 4. A September 27, 2007 letter from UCD-UD to Duc attributed plaintiff's elevated PSA level to "obstructive voiding." ECF No. 48-6 at 3. Menon "sent [plaintiff] back" to UCD-UD on November 27, 2007. Pl.'s Dep. 53:14-17. The UCD-UD tests indicated bladder outlet obstruction. Id. at 53:14-16. Menon later prescribed plaintiff morphine and methadone for pain related to his prostate and bladder. Id. at 97:20-25.

A March 2008 clinic note from UCD-UD states that a biopsy was performed on March 6, 2008. ECF No. 48-6 at 5. The result of that biopsy indicated prostate cancer. Id. at 5, 6. On March 20, 2008, a urologist from UCD-UD informed plaintiff of the diagnosis and discussed treatment options. Id. at 6. On June 18, 2008, plaintiff underwent a robotic-assisted laparscopic radical prostatectomy at UCD-UD. Id. at 7.

On March 25, 2008-after plaintiff learned of the diagnosis but before his prostatectomy-plaintiff submitted an inmate administrative appeal. ECF No. 48-5 at 10. In that appeal, plaintiff stated that he had been complaining of urinary problems since the early 2000s, expressed dissatisfaction with the delay in ordering a biopsy, and requested that the surgery take place as soon as possible. Id. Plaintiff also claimed that physicians at the U.C. Davis Medical Center informed him that "it took many years for the cancer to be in such a[n] advanced state." Id. at 12.

The First Level Appeal Decision, which bears Menon's signature and is dated July 22, 2008, partially granted plaintiff's appeal. Id. at 13-14. That decision explained that plaintiff's "request to have surgery is granted in that on June 18, 2008, a robotic prostatectomy was performed at UC-Davis Medical Center." Id. at 13. The decision also notes that Menon interviewed plaintiff on June 26, 2008. Id.

The Second Level Appeal Response, dated September 2, 2008 also partially granted plaintiff's appeal. Id. at 15. Although that response was signed by Bal, the text indicates that Duc reviewed the matter on behalf of Bal. Id. at 16-17. The response states that plaintiff was given proper imaging studies with a CT scan, that plaintiff was referred to UCD-UD, and that the urologists ordered extensive testing including biopsy of the prostate to arrive at the diagnosis of cancer. Id. at 16.

Plaintiff appealed the Second Level Appeal Response, and, on August 3, 2009, the CDCR issued a Director's Level Decision. Id. at 18-20. That decision indicated that a review of plaintiff's Unit Health Record revealed the following:

You received five UCDMC Urology Clinic evaluations between April 2006 and November 2007 related to urinary symptoms.
Your Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) (prostate test) level was elevated on June 26 and September 7, 2007. Notation from a urology evaluation on November 27, 2007, indicated a bladder outlet obstruction with a report of an increased PSA.
A CT scan of your abdomen/pelvis was completed on January 8, 2008; the results were unchanged from a previous study completed in April 2006, which showed a small, stable left inguinal hernia; and your prostate was noted as normal.
You had a needle biopsy of the prostate on March 6, 2008; the results revealed adenocarcinoma (prostate cancer).
...
You were scheduled to have prostate surgery on May 2, 2008; however, the surgery was cancelled because you had eaten after midnight. Although you signed a consent form acknowledging you should not eat the night before surgery, it was not clear of the California State Prison, Sacramento (SAC) staff notified you that your surgery was to happen on this date or if the medical orders were given not to feed you the night before the surgery.
You received an evaluation on May 27, 2008; documentation indicated your surgery would be rescheduled; and you ...

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