United States District Court, E.D. California
Christopher Harbridge is a state prisoner proceeding pro
se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights
action. Defendants Hall, Lee, and Tucker are represented by
Deputy Attorney General Diana Esquivel. Pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 16(e), the court now issues its final
filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 on March 16, 2010. This action is proceeding to trial on
Claim 17, as stated in plaintiffs second amended complaint,
against defendants Hall, Lee, and Tucker for deliberate
indifference of his serious medical need in violation of the
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
court has subject matter jurisdiction over this federal civil
rights action. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Venue is proper because
the conduct allegedly occurred in this judicial district. 28
U.S.C. § 1391.
parties demand a trial by jury. Fed.R.Civ.P. 38(b). The trial
of this matter is scheduled to commence at 1:00 p.m. on May
2, 2017, in Courtroom 5, before United States District Judge
Dale A. Drozd.
Plaintiff is a prisoner in custody at the California
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
("CDCR") and has been incarcerated at Pleasant
Valley State Prison ("PVSP") since 2005. Plaintiff
is serving a life sentence for his 1997 conviction for second
all times relevant to this lawsuit, defendant Hall was a
Licensed Vocational Nurse at PVSP, defendant Lee was a
Correctional Officer at PVSP, and defendant Tucker was a
Correctional Officer at PVSP. All defendants were acting
under color of state law.
incident giving rise to this claim occurred on the evening of
May 2, 2006.
a. Plaintiff had been released from administrative
segregation to be housed in Building 4, Facility A at PVSP.
b. At approximately 6:45 p.m., plaintiff was involved in a
physical altercation with a prospective cellmate in the
dayroom of Building 4. Plaintiff was thereafter escorted out
of the building.
c. Plaintiff later returned to Building 4. At around 8:54
p.m., plaintiff assaulted another prospective cellmate.
d. During this second altercation, an officer struck
plaintiff on the left ankle and left thigh with an expandable
baton to stop the assault.
e. After this second altercation, plaintiff was escorted to
the Facility A Program Office and placed in a holding cell.
Defendants Hall, Lee, and Tucker, were not present during the
physical altercation in Building 4.
same evening, on May 2, 2006, at approximately 9:00 p.m.,
defendant Hall evaluated plaintiffs injuries in the Program
Office and noted that plaintiff had a swollen left ankle and
a cut that was bleeding on his left thigh.
Defendant Hall retrieved a wheelchair for plaintiff.
Defendant Hall did not receive a call from anyone regarding
plaintiff for the remainder of his shift.
Defendant Hall had no further interaction with plaintiff
after May 2, 2006, nor was defendant Hall informed that
plaintiff had required or requested medical care.
plaintiff left the Program Office the night of May 2, 2006,
he was sent to a cell on the second floor of Building 1,
Facility A, where defendants Lee and Tucker were the
second-watch floor officers from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
May 4, 2006, plaintiff submitted a request for medical care.
In addition to requesting medication for other ailments,
plaintiff also requested that his foot be x-rayed because he
could not walk.
May 5, 2006, at or around 1:00 a.m., plaintiff was treated
for his complaints of ankle pain. Medical staff x-rayed
plaintiffs ankle and discovered a small distal fracture. A
cast was placed on plaintiffs ankle that same day.
Disputed Factual Issues
Whether defendant Hall believed plaintiffs ankle was possibly
broken and informed former defendants Herrera and McBride.
Whether defendant Hall knew plaintiff required medical
Whether defendant Hall refused to treat plaintiffs injuries
from May 2 to 4, 2006.
Whether plaintiff refused to go to the Treatment & Triage
Area ("TTA") and instead insisted on going back to
his cell and refused to provide any information about his
symptoms or injuries.
Whether defendant Hall called the nurse on duty in the TTA to
seek advice on how to proceed regarding plaintiffs injuries
and was advised to put ice on plaintiffs ankle, provide
Motrin to control the pain and swelling, and that an x-ray
would be ordered for plaintiff the following morning.
Whether defendant Hall followed the nurse's instructions
and whether plaintiff was uncooperative and refused
Whether defendant Hall informed plaintiff that if he changed
his mind, Hall would call the housing officers and send
plaintiff to the TTA.
Whether plaintiff requested assistance to get to his cell on
the second floor and/or walked up the stairs on his own.
Whether defendants Lee and Tucker were aware that plaintiff
had a serious medical need, which they ignored while
plaintiff was housed in Building 1 from May 2 to 4, 2006.
Whether defendant Lee failed to summon medical care for
plaintiffs broken ankle while housed in Building 1 from May 2
to 4, 2006.
Whether plaintiffs' injuries (the laceration on his left
thigh and distal fracture on his left ankle) amounted to a
serious medical condition.
Whether any defendant acted maliciously, oppressively,
recklessly, or with evil intent from March 2 to 4, 2006.
Whether any of the defendants' conduct on May 2 to 4,
2006 violated plaintiffs constitutional rights, and if so,
would a reasonable prison official in defendants'
position believe that their conduct was lawful or reasonable
under the circumstances.
Disputed Evidentiary Issues
Plaintiffs Evidentiary Disputes
Plaintiff obj ects to the introduction of the
Interdisciplinary Progress Notes dated 5-2-06 by defendant
Hall on hearsay grounds and because the document was
Plaintiff objects to introduction of the statement
"Refused medical care until requesting ER attention
tonight" found in the "Encounter Form" dated
5-5-06 by R.N. Engbrecht on hearsay grounds and because it is
Plaintiff obj ects to the testimony introduction of testimony
of former defendants Benyamin and Ferro for the reasons
stated in his motion in limine.
Plaintiff obj ects to the admittance of any testimony by the
10 expert witnesses listed in defendants' expert
disclosures, or any other witnesses, pertaining to their
"observation of plaintiffs behavior" for the
reasons stated in plaintiffs motion in limine.
Plaintiff reserves the right to raise objections to other
evidence presented by defendants.
Defendants' Evidentiary Disputes
Defendants obj ect to plaintiff testifying about the
diagnosis and prognosis of his left ankle injury and any
residual effects of which he now complains. Defendants object
that plaintiff is not qualified to give testimony about the
cause and effect, diagnosis, or prognosis of his medical
condition and that he is not qualified to interpret medical
Defendants intend to file motions in limine to
preclude plaintiff from testifying, eliciting testimony, or
introducing evidence of the following matters: (a) dismissed
defendants and claims and unrelated claims and individuals;
(b) defendants' involvement in other lawsuits, incidents,
or inmate appeals alleging denial of medical care or other
misconduct; (c) plaintiffs theories that defendants and their
counsel conspired to fabricate evidence; (d) reference to
other lawsuit suits, litigation, or court-orders involving
defendants' attorneys; (e) offers to compromise; and (f)
CDCR's indemnification of an adverse judgment.
Defendants will file a motion in limine to exclude
all witnesses listed in plaintiffs pretrial statement absent
an offer of proof that they have personal knowledge or
relevant information about the events of May 2006.
Defendants will file a motion in limine to permit
them to introduce evidence of plaintiffs and any incarcerated
witness's felony conviction and length of sentence for
Defendants anticipate objecting to many of plaintiff s
proposed trial exhibits, and will move to preclude plaintiff
from using any document that was timely requested but not
produced during discovery.
Defendants reserve the right to file any other motion in
limine as issues may arise during pretrial and trial
Special Factual Information
seeks "three billion dollars" in compensatory
damages, "three billion dollars" in punitive
damages, court costs, trial costs, filing fees, attorney
fees, and such further relief as the court deems
seek judgment in this case and costs
POINTS OF LAW
Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides:
Every person who, under color of [state law] . . . subjects,
or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States
... to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or
immunities secured by the Constitution . . . shall be liable
to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or
other proper proceeding for redress.
42 U.S.C. § 1983.
1983 provides a cause of action for the violation of
plaintiff s constitutional rights by persons acting under
color of state law. Nurre v. Whitehead, 580 F.3d
1087, 1092 (9th Cir. 2009); Long v. County of Los
Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006); Jones
v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). To
prevail on his inadequate medical care claim, plaintiff must
demonstrate a link between actions or omissions of defendant
and the violation of his Eighth Amendment rights; there is no
respondeat superior liability under section 1983.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676-77 (2009);
Lemire v. California Dep't of Corr. and Rehab.,
726 F.3d 1062, 1074-75 (9th Cir. 2013); Moss v. U.S.
Secret Service, 711 F.3d 941, 967-68 (9th Cir. 2013);
Lacey v. Maricopa County, 693 F.3d 896, 915-16 (9th
Cir. 2012) (en banc); Simmons v. Navajo County,
Ariz., 609 F.3d 1011, 1020-21 (9th Cir. 2010).
Deliberate Indifference to Serious Medical Needs
officials violate the Eighth Amendment if they are
"deliberately] indifferen[t] to [a prisoner's]
serious medical needs." Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 104 (1976). "A medical need is serious if
failure to treat it will result in ' "significant
injury or the unnecessary and wanton infliction of
pain." ' " Peralta v. Dillard, 744
F.3d 1076, 1081-82 (2014) (quoting Jett v. Penner,
439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir.2006) (quoting McGuckin v.
Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1992), overruled on
other grounds by WMX Techs., Inc. v. Miller, 104
F.3d 1133 (9th Cir.l997)(en banc)).
maintain an Eighth Amendment claim based on alleged
inadequate medical care in prison, a plaintiff must first
"show a serious medical need by demonstrating that
failure to treat a prisoner's condition could result in
further significant injury or the unnecessary and wanton
infliction of pain. Second, the plaintiff must show the
defendants' response to the need was deliberately
indifferent." Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113,
1122 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096
(quotation marks omitted)).
the first prong, indications of a serious medical need
"include the existence of an injury that a reasonable
doctor or patient would find important and worthy of comment
or treatment; the presence of a medical condition that
significantly affects an individual's daily activities;
or the existence of chronic and substantial pain."
Colwell v. Bannister, 763 F.3d 1060, 1066 (9th Cir.
2014) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted);
accord Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1122; Lopez v.
Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1131 (9th Cir. 2000).
the second prong, deliberate indifference is "a state of
mind more blameworthy than negligence" and
"requires 'more than ordinary lack of due care for
the prisoner's interests or safety.'" Farmer
v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 835 (1994) (quoting
Whitley, 475 U.S. at 319). Deliberate indifference
is shown where a prison official "knows that inmates
face a substantial risk of serious harm and disregards that
risk by failing to take reasonable measures to abate
it." Mat 847. In medical care cases, this requires
showing: (a) a purposeful act or failure to respond to a
prisoner's pain or possible medical need and (b) harm
caused by the indifference. Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at
1122 (quoting Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096). "A
prisoner need not show his harm was substantial; however,
such would provide additional support for the inmate's
claim that the defendant was deliberately indifferent to his
needs." Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096, citing
McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1060.
indifference is a high legal standard. Toguchi v.
Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1060 (9th Cir.2004). "Under
this standard, the prison official must not only 'be
aware of the facts from which the inference could be drawn
that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, ' but
that person 'must also draw the inference.'"
Id. at 1057 (quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at
837). '"If a prison official should have been aware
of the risk, but was not, then the official has not violated
the Eighth Amendment, no matter how severe the
risk.'" Id. (quoting Gibson v. County
of Washoe, Nevada, 290 F.3d 1175, 1188 (9th Cir. 2002)).
immunity shields government officials from civil damages
liability unless the official violated a statutory or
constitutional right that was clearly established at the time
of the challenged conduct." Taylor v. Barkes,
___ U.S. ___, ___, 135 S.Ct. 2042, 2044 (2015) (quoting
Reichle v. Howards, 566 U.S. 658, ___, 132 S.Ct.
2088, 2093 (2012)). Qualified immunity analysis requires two
prongs of inquiry: "(1) whether 'the facts alleged
show the official's conduct violated a constitutional
right; and (2) if so, whether the right was clearly
established' as of the date of the involved events
'in light of the specific context of the case.'"
Tarabochia v. Adkins, 766 F.3d 1115, 1121 (9th Cir.
2014) (quoting Robinson v. York, 566 F.3d 817, 821
(9th Cir. 2009). These prongs need not be addressed in a
particular order. Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223
determine whether a government official should be granted
qualified immunity, under the first prong, the facts are to
be viewed "in the light most favorable to the injured
party." Chappell v. Mandeville, 706 F.3d 1052,
1058 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Saucier v. Katz, 533
U.S. 194, 201 (2001), overruled in part on other grounds
by Pearson, 555 U.S. at 817-21; see also Bryan v.
MacPherson, 630 F.3d 805, 817 (9th Cir. 2010)). However,
the existence of a material factual dispute does not
necessarily preclude a finding of qualified immunity.
Estate of Ford v. Ramirez-Palmer, 301 F.3d 1043,
1053 (9th Cir. 2002).
the second prong, clearly established law is not to be
defined "at a high level of generality." White
v. Pauly, ___ S.Ct. ___, ___, 137 S.Ct. 548, 552 (2017)
(quoting Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, 563 U.S. 731, 742
(2011)); see also Mullenix v. Luna, ___ U.S. ___,
136 S.Ct. 305, 308 (2015) (quoting al-Kidd, 563 U.S.
at 742). "The dispositive question is 'whether the
violative nature of particular conduct is clearly
established.'" Ibid, (emphasis added in
Mullenix). "This inquiry ' " 'must
be undertaken in light of the specific context of the case,
not as a broad general proposition.' " ' "
Id., (quoting Brosseau v. Haugen, 543 U.S.
194, 198 (2004) (quoting Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S.
194, 201 (2001))). "[G]eneral statements of the law are
not inherently incapable of giving fair and clear
warning" to officers, White, 137 S.Ct. at 552
(quoting United States v. Lanier, 520 U.S. 259, 271
(1997)), but "in the light of pre-existing law the
unlawfulness must be apparent, " Id. (quoting
Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 640 (1987)).
"The relevant inquiry is whether existing precedent
placed the conclusion that [the defendant] acted unreasonably
in the [specific circumstances confronted] 'beyond
debate.' " Mullenix, 136 S.Ct. at 309
(quoting al-Kidd, 563 U.S. at 741).
be clearly established, a right must be sufficiently clear
that every reasonable official would have understood that
what he is doing violates that right." Reichel,
132 S.Ct. at 2092; see also Castro v. County of Los
Angeles, 833 F.3d 1060, 1067 (9th Cir. 2016). "When
properly applied, [qualified immunity] protects all but the
plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the
law." al-Kidd, 563 U.S. at 743 (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted). "We do not require a
case directly on point, but existing precedent must have
placed the statutory or constitutional question beyond
debate." Id. at 741. "[A] 'robust
consensus of cases of persuasive authority' " in the
Courts of Appeals could establish the federal right [in
question]." City and County of San Francisco v.
Sheehan, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 135 S.Ct. 1765, 1778 (2015).
has the burden of proving what, if any, punitive damages
should be awarded by a preponderance of the evidence. Ninth
Circuit Model Civil Jury Instructions § 5.5 (2007). In
order to award punitive damages, the jury must find that
defendant's conduct was "motivated by evil motive or
intent, or . . . involves reckless or callous indifference to
the federally protected rights of others." Smith v.
Wade, 461 U.S. 30, 56 (1986). Acts or omissions which
are malicious, wanton, or oppressive support an award of
punitive damages. Dang v. Cross, 422 F.3d 800,
807-08 (9th Cir. 2005).
Federal Rules of Evidence
Rules of Evidence 608 and 609 provide that evidence of a
witness's prior felony conviction or instance of conduct
demonstrating a propensity to lie may be used to impeach that
witness's testimony. Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b)
provides that evidence of prior crimes, wrongs, or acts
cannot be used to prove the character of the person in order
to show conduct in conformity with that character trait. Such
prior acts may be admissible for other purposes only, such as
proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan,
knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident.
court previously granted summary judgment in favor of
defendants Trimble, Brown, Reeves, Munoz, Singleton, McBride,
Collier, Redding, Franco, and Herrera on all claims against
them. (Doc. No. 128.) Consequently, these defendants have
been dismissed ...