Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ballinger v. Bright

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 15, 2016

BILLY BALLINGER, Plaintiff,
v.
DARIN BRIGHT; GREG ELLIS; J. LEWIS; Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOCKET NO. 11)

          William Alsup United States District Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         This is a civil rights action filed under 42 U.S.C. 1983 by a pro se prisoner at Avenal State Prison. Plaintiff claims that defendants Dr. Darin Bright, Greg Ellis, and J. Lewis, who are prison officials, violated his Eighth Amendment rights when he was housed at the California Training Facility ("CTF") by being deliberately indifferent to his knee condition. Defendants move for summary judgment, plaintiff has opposed the motion, and defendants have replied. For the reasons set out below, defendants' motion is Granted.

         STATEMENT

         The following facts are not in dispute, unless otherwise noted.

         Plaintiff suffers from extensive degenerative joint disease in his left knee, and he also has a discrepancy in his leg length. In 2007, plaintiff received an M.R.I. for his knee and in May 2008 he underwent arthroscopic surgery. Since that surgery, he has continued to experience locking, buckling, spasms and instability in his knee that causes him severe pain. He has received steroid injections, narcotic and non-narcotic pain medication, a hinged knee brace and a cane, custom orthotic boots, and enrolled in the CTF Chronic Care Program (under which prisoners are closely monitored for changes in their medical condition) (Custodian of Records ("COR") Decl. CCHCS-000011; Bright Decl. ¶ 14). Plaintiff is morbidly obese (COR Decl. CCHSC-000011).

         In September 2014, plaintiff filed an administrative appeal at CTF requesting to be seen by a podiatrist, an orthopedic specialist for knee replacement surgery (id. CCHCS-000006). In the appeal he explained his condition, the surgery, and his continuing symptoms (ibid.). He further stated that the knee brace and medications he was provided were alleviating the pain (ibid.) In response, he was seen by Dr. Tarrar, a primary care physician and surgeon (id. CCHCS-000008). He was advised to lose weight and exercise to alleviate his knee pain, his request to see an orthopedic specialist for knee replacement surgery was denied, and he was referred to a podiatrist to address his leg-length disparity (ibid).

         Plaintiff appealed this decision to the second level of review, reiterating his requests and complaints, and adding a request for a new M.R.I. examination (id. CCHCS-000005). He further stated that the brace and pain medication are the "reason" he can work (ibid.) at his job in the kitchen. The appeal was denied at the second level by defendant Dr. Bright, the Chief Medical Executive at CTF, and S. Camara, whom defendant Ellis, the CTF Chief Executive Officer, designated to act on his behalf because Ellis was absent (id. CCHCS-000010-11; Ellis Decl. ¶¶ 6-7). Dr. Bright found that an orthopedist would not help because a second surgery would not have a better outcome than the unsuccessful first surgery, plaintiff is morbidly obese and requires weight loss to address his knee pain, and plaintiff is able to walk to and from the yard and the mess hall (COR Decl. CCHCS-000011; Bright Decl. ¶ 14). Dr. Bright in his declaration further explains that his reasoning was based on the fact that steroids had not relieved the pain, plaintiff was provided narcotic and non-narcotic pain medication, a cane, a hinged knee brace, had a job in the prison kitchen, declined a lower bunk, and enrolled in the CTF Chronic Care Program (ibid.). Dr. Bright advised plaintiff that he could improve his knee problems by losing weight and strengthening his leg with exercise (COR Decl. CCHSC-000011). Dr. Bright also denied the referral to a podiatrist because a podiatrist does not treat leg length disparities or knee conditions, and instead recommended that plaintiff's primary care physician order orthotics for the problem (ibid.).

         In December 2014, petitioner appealed this decision to third and final level of review where it was denied by R. Robinson, a designee of defendant Lewis, who is the Deputy Director with the California Correctional Health Care Services and responsible for reviewing administrative appeals at the third level of review (COR Decl. CCHCS-000003). Lewis states that he receives too many appeals to review and decide them all within the legal deadline denied plaintiff's administrative appeal. (Lewis Decl. ¶¶ 2, 4-5). In this appeal, plaintiff stated that the "hardly" goes to the yard because of the knee pain, and that he feels pain while he works (COR Decl. CCHCS-00005). His appeal was denied on the grounds that he was evaluated by doctors, and receiving the medically necessary treatment for his condition (id. CCHCS-000003). On January 8, 2015, Dr. Tarrar, submitted a "Physician Request for Services" ("RFS") form to defendant Dr. Bright requesting an updated M.R.I. of plaintiff's left knee (Compl. 3b-3c). Dr. Bright denied the request on January 20, 2015 (Bright Decl. ¶ 3 n.1).

         Plaintiff received custom boots from the orthotics department, and he has not complained about their functionality (Bright Decl. ¶ 13).

         Plaintiff claims that defendants violated the Eighth Amendment and were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs.

         ANALYSIS

         A. Standard of Review

         Summary judgment is proper where the pleadings, discovery and affidavits 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). 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.