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Rangel v. Chen

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 26, 2017

CHEN, et al., Defendant.



         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter proceeds on Plaintiff's original complaint against Defendant Nurse A. Manasrah on an Eighth Amendment medical indifference claim. Pending now is Defendant's February 7, 2017, motion for summary judgment. This motion is fully briefed and ready for disposition.

         I. Plaintiff's Allegations

         In the complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he experienced chest pain and difficulty breathing on November 12, 2013. At the prison clinic, Nurse Manasrah examined Plaintiff and said, “There is nothing wrong with you and if I don't find something wrong with you, I will write you up.” Defendant failed to check Plaintiff for Valley Fever and ignored Plaintiff's complaints. Plaintiff was then returned to his cell where, over the course of the next few days, his condition worsened. On November 25, 2013, Plaintiff was diagnosed with Valley Fever.

         II. Legal Standards for Summary Judgment

         Any party may move for summary judgment, and “[t]he [C]ourt shall grant summary judgment if the movant 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). Each party's position, whether it be that a fact is disputed or undisputed, must be supported by (1) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including but not limited to depositions, documents, declarations, or discovery; or (2) “showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1).

         The party seeking summary judgment “always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (internal quotation marks omitted). If the movant will have the burden of proof at trial, it must demonstrate, with affirmative evidence, that “no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party.” Id. at 984. In contrast, if the nonmoving party will have the burden of proof at trial, “the movant can prevail merely by pointing out that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Id. (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323). Once the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party must point to "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Id. (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986)).

         In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, a court does not make credibility determinations or weigh evidence. See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 255. Rather, “[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.” Id. Only admissible evidence may be considered in deciding a motion for summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2). “Conclusory, speculative testimony in affidavits and moving papers is insufficient to raise genuine issues of fact and defeat summary judgment.” Soremekun v. Thrifty Payless, Inc., 509 F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir. 2007).

         III. Facts[1]

         At all relevant times, Plaintiff was a state inmate housed at Kern Valley State Prison (“KVSP”) in Delano, California. Compl. at 7. Nurse Manasrah is a Family Nurse Practitioner-Certified employed at KVSP. Decl. of A. Manasrah in Supp. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. (ECF No. 25-3) ¶¶ 1-2.

         On November 12, 2013, Plaintiff was referred to the Triage and Treatment Area (“TTA”) at KVSP with complaints of a rash, breathing problems, and tightness in his chest. Pl.'s Opp'n (ECF No. 35 at 28). When Plaintiff arrived at the TTA, he was taken into an examining room by two nurses, one male and one female (“the TTA nurses”). Pl.'s Dep. at 60:14-22.

         Plaintiff alleged in his Complaint and in his deposition that he had personal contact and direct communication with Nurse Manasrah. He claimed that Defendant was one of the two nurses at the TTA whose face-to-face interaction with Plaintiff, which included hostility and refusal to treat Plaintiff, underlies this action. Pl.'s Dep. at 29:1-6; 32:20-25; 35:18-24. See also Compl. ¶¶ 9-12 (Plaintiff was “seen” by Nurse Manasrah, he “explained” to Defendant that he was having chest pains and flu-like symptoms, Defendant “responded” with “there is nothing wrong with you…, ” Defendant then “stated” that Plaintiff is suffering only from acid reflux, and finally, Defendant did not “check” for Valley Fever).

         However, in his opposition to Defendant's summary judgment motion, Plaintiff submits no evidence that Nurse Manasrah personally saw Plaintiff or was one of the two TTA nurses whose conduct serves as the basis of this action. Instead, Plaintiff admits that he “did not personally encounter defendant in a common traditional sense, (I.E face to face meeting)….” Pl.'s Opp'n at 3. Plaintiff now seems to be claiming only that Defendant Manasrah's recommendations to the two TTA nurses violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights. See id.

         Thus, the now-unrefuted evidence is that Defendant was not present at the time of Plaintiff's November 12, 2013, TTA visit, and he did not personally see or examine Plaintiff. Per the medical records of this encounter, Nurse Manasrah was the on-call health care provider on duty at the time. Manasrah Decl. ¶ 2, Ex. A. As an on-call nurse, Defendant had no interactions with Plaintiff; he did not personally observe him or speak to him. Manasrah Decl. ¶ 5. On that day, Defendant was contacted by telephone by the TTA nurses, Nurse Gant and Nurse Regino (“the TTA ...

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