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Bulandr v. Pelican Bay State Prison

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 2, 2017

IAN ANTHONY BULANDR, Plaintiff,
v.
PELICAN BAY STATE PRISON, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT DKT NO. 17

          THELTON E. HENDERSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Ian Bulandr, a state prisoner, filed this pro se action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case proceeds under the first amended complaint (Docket No. 10) against Defendants Nurse Risenhoover and Dr. Bal with allegations that they failed to properly treat Plaintiff's eczema like rashes in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment stating that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, Defendants were not deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs and Defendants did not personally participate in the alleged acts. Plaintiff filed an opposition and Defendants filed a reply. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion is GRANTED.

         I

         A

         Summary judgment is properly granted when no genuine disputes of material fact remain and when, viewing the evidence most favorably to the nonmoving party, the movant is clearly entitled to prevail as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Eisenberg v. Ins. Co. of N. Am., 815 F.2d 1285, 1288-89 (9th Cir. 1987). The moving party bears the burden of showing there is no material factual dispute. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 331. Therefore, the Court must regard as true the opposing party's evidence, if supported by affidavits or other evidentiary material. Id. at 324; Eisenberg, 815 F.2d at 1289. The Court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Intel Corp. v. Hartford Accident & Indem. Co., 952 F.2d 1551, 1559 (9th Cir. 1991).

         The moving party bears the initial burden of identifying those portions of the pleadings, discovery and affidavits which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. If the moving party meets its burden of production, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to produce “specific evidence, through affidavits or admissible discovery material, to show that the dispute exists.” Bhan v. NME Hosps., Inc., 929 F.2d 1404, 1409 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 994 (1991); Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Cos., 210 F.3d 1099, 1105 (9th Cir. 2000).

         Material facts that would preclude entry of summary judgment are those which, under applicable substantive law, may affect the outcome of the case. The substantive law will identify which facts are material. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Questions of fact regarding immaterial issues cannot defeat a motion for summary judgment. Reynolds v. County of San Diego, 84 F.3d 1162, 1168-70 (9th Cir. 1996), rev'd on other grounds by Acri v. Varian Assocs., Inc., 114 F.3d 999 (9th Cir. 1997). A dispute as to a material fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

         B

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (“PLRA”) amended 42 U.S.C. § 1997e to provide that “[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under [42 U.S.C. § 1983], or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Exhaustion is mandatory and no longer left to the discretion of the district court. Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 84 (2006) (citing Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 739 (2001)). “Prisoners must now exhaust all ‘available' remedies, not just those that meet federal standards.” Id. at 85. Even when the relief sought cannot be granted by the administrative process, i.e., monetary damages, a prisoner must still exhaust administrative remedies. Id. at 85-86 (citing Booth, 532 U.S. at 734).

         The PLRA's exhaustion requirement requires “proper exhaustion” of available administrative remedies. Id. at 93. This requirement cannot be satisfied “by filing an untimely or otherwise procedurally defective administrative grievance or appeal.” Id. at 83-84. “The text of 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) strongly suggests that the PLRA uses the term ‘exhausted' to mean what the term means in administrative law, where exhaustion means proper exhaustion.” Id. at 93. Therefore, the PLRA exhaustion requirement requires proper exhaustion. Id. “Proper exhaustion demands compliance with an agency's deadlines and other critical procedural rules because no adjudicative system can function effectively without imposing some orderly structure on the course of its proceedings.” Id. at 90-91. A prisoner must complete the administrative review process in accordance with the applicable procedural rules, including deadlines, as a precondition to bringing suit in federal court. See id. at 87; see also Johnson v. Meadows, 418 F.3d 1152, 1159 (11th Cir. 2005) (holding that, to exhaust remedies, a prisoner must file appeals in the place, and at the time, the prison's administrative rules require).

         The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) provides that inmates and parolees “may appeal any policy, decision, action, condition, or omission by the department or its staff that the inmate or parolee can demonstrate as having a material adverse effect upon his or her health, safety, or welfare.” Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3084.1(a). “Three levels of formal review are provided, and a prisoner exhausts the grievance process when he completes the third level.” Harvey v. Jordan, 605 F.3d 681, 683 (9th Cir. 2010).

         C

         Deliberate indifference to serious medical needs violates the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1992), overruled on other grounds, WMX Technologies, Inc. v. Miller, 104 F.3d 1133, 1136 (9th Cir. 1997) (en banc). A determination of "deliberate indifference" involves an examination of two elements: the seriousness of the prisoner's medical need and the nature of the defendant's response to that need. Id. at 1059.

         A "serious" medical need exists if the failure to treat a prisoner's condition could result in further significant injury or the "unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain." Id. 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 are ...


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