United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS
ALLISON CLAIRE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a civil rights
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently before
the court is defendant’s motion for summary judgment
(ECF No. 37), which plaintiff opposes (ECF No. 39).
alleges that he suffers from degenerative spinal issues that
cause him to suffer “sever[e], debilitating pain,
[r]equring daily treatment with pain medication, [p]hysical
therapy, and surg[e]ry.” ECF. No. 1 at 6, ¶¶
6-7. He maintains that after his transfer to Mule Creek State
Prison (MCSP) in January 2013, defendant Horowitz ignored his
complaints of pain and refused to provide him with adequate
treatment. Id., ¶¶ 7-8. Specifically, he
alleges that, without any apparent medical basis, defendant
refused to continue prescribing morphine, which had been
effective at treating his pain, and would prescribe only
methadone, which provided no relief. Id.,
Motion for Summary Judgment
moves for summary judgment on the ground that she was not
deliberately indifferent to plaintiff’s serious medical
needs because her decision to prescribe methadone instead of
morphine was based upon her professional opinion that
methadone was a more appropriate medication for plaintiff.
ECF No. 37-1 at 7-8. Alternatively, she argues that she is
entitled to qualified immunity. Id. at 8-9.
outset, the court notes that plaintiff has failed to comply
with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c)(1)(A), which
requires that “a party asserting that a fact . . . is
genuinely disputed must support the assertion by . . . citing
to particular parts of materials in the record . . . .”
Plaintiff has also failed to file a separate document
disputing defendants’ statement of undisputed facts, as
required by Local Rule 260(b).
it is well-established that the pleadings of pro se litigants
are held to “less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per curiam).
Nevertheless, “[p]ro se litigants must follow the same
rules of procedure that govern other litigants.”
King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987),
overruled on other grounds, Lacey v. Maricopa
Cnty., 693 F.3d 896 (9th Cir. 2012) (en banc). However,
the unrepresented prisoners’ choice to proceed without
counsel “is less than voluntary” and they are
subject to “the handicaps . . . detention necessarily
imposes upon a litigant, ” such as “limited
access to legal materials” as well as “sources of
proof.” Jacobsen v. Filler, 790 F.2d 1362,
1364-65 & n.4 (9th Cir. 1986). Inmate litigants,
therefore, should not be held to a standard of “strict
literalness” with respect to the requirements of the
summary judgment rule. Id.
court is mindful of the Ninth Circuit’s more
overarching caution in this context, as noted above, that
district courts are to “construe liberally motion
papers and pleadings filed by pro se inmates and
should avoid applying summary judgment rules strictly.”
Thomas v. Ponder, 611 F.3d 1144, 1150 (9th Cir.
2010). Accordingly, the court considers the record before it
in its entirety despite plaintiff’s failure to be in
strict compliance with the applicable rules. However, only
those assertions in the opposition which have evidentiary
support in the record will be considered.
opposition, plaintiff reiterates that his prescription was
changed for non-medical reasons at the direction of prison
administration and argues that defendant’s facts are
disputed. ECF No. 39 at 1-2.
Legal Standards for Summary Judgment
judgment is appropriate when the moving party “shows
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). Under summary judgment practice,
“[t]he moving party initially bears the burden of
proving the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact.” In re Oracle Corp. Sec. Litig., 627
F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). The moving party may
accomplish this 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), admission, interrogatory answers, or
other materials” or by showing that such materials
“do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine
dispute, or that the adverse party cannot produce admissible
evidence to support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1).
the non-moving party bears the burden of proof at trial, the
moving party need only prove that there is an absence of
evidence to support the non-moving party’s case.”
Oracle Corp., 627 F.3d at 387 (citing
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325); see also
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). Indeed, 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.” Celotex, 477
U.S. at 322. “[A] complete failure of proof concerning
an essential element of the nonmoving party’s case
necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.”
Id. at 323. In such a ...