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.

Houston v. Rio Consumnes Correctional Facility

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 11, 2017

JOHN LLOYD HOUSTON, Plaintiff,
v.
RIO CONSUMNES CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          KENDALL J. NEWMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner, proceeding without counsel, with a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court are plaintiff's motion to re-open discovery (ECF No. 58), plaintiff's motion to amend (ECF No. 59), and defendant Sacramento County's motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 52.) Defendant moves for summary judgment on the grounds that plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies and on the merits of plaintiff's claims.

         For the reasons stated herein, plaintiff's motion to re-open discovery is denied. The undersigned recommends that plaintiff's motion to amend be granted in part and denied in part, and that defendant's motion for summary judgment be granted.

         II. Motion to Amend and Motion to Re-Open Discovery

         A. Motion to Re-Open Discovery

         This action proceeds on the amended complaint filed October 26, 2015, as to defendant Sacramento County. (ECF No 7.) Plaintiff alleges that while he was housed at the Sacramento County Jail, he did not receive prescription drug treatment for hepatitis C pursuant to an official county policy not to test, treat or cure hepatitis C. In the pending summary judgment motion, defendant states that at his deposition, plaintiff clarified that he is claiming that defendant had an official policy to treat hepatitis C, but did not follow it. (ECF No. 52-2 at 2.) In his opposition to defendant's summary judgment motion, plaintiff agrees that he is suing defendant on this theory. (ECF No. 65 at 12.) The parties agree that defendant's official policy for treating inmates with hepatitis C is called “Policy 1741.”

         In the pending motion to re-open discovery, plaintiff argues that defendant misled plaintiff concerning the official policy for hepatitis C treatment for over one year. (ECF No. 58 at 1.) Plaintiff argues that he was always told “by defendant that it was their policy not to treat hepatitis C…plaintiff only found out through internal affairs the truth that they have a policy to treat [hepatitis C] in early October 2016.” (Id.) Plaintiff seeks additional time to conduct discovery regarding this policy.

         Modification of a scheduling order requires a showing of good cause, Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b), and good case requires a showing of due diligence. Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 609 (9th Cir. 1992). To establish good cause, the party seeking the modification of a scheduling order must generally show that even with the exercise of due diligence, they cannot meet the requirement of the order. Id.

         Pursuant to the June 1, 2016 discovery and scheduling order, the discovery deadline was October 7, 2016. (ECF No. 31.) Plaintiff filed the pending motion to re-open discovery on December 28, 2016. Plaintiff seeks to reopen discovery based on information he learned in early October 2016. Plaintiff does not explain why he waited almost three months, after learning about defendant's policy to treat hepatitis C, to request additional time to conduct discovery. For this reason, the undersigned finds that plaintiff has not shown due diligence.

         Moreover, to succeed on either theory, i.e. that defendant had an official policy to treat hepatitis C but failed to follow it, or defendant had an official policy not treat to treat hepatitis C, plaintiff must demonstrate that he qualified for the prescription drug treatment. As discussed herein, plaintiff has not met this burden. For this additional reason, plaintiff has not demonstrated good cause to re-open discovery.

         For the reasons discussed above, plaintiff's motion to re-open discovery is denied.

         B. Motion to Amend

         On December 28, 2016, plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file a second amended complaint and proposed second amended complaint. (ECF Nos. 55, 59.) On January 11, 2017, defendant filed an opposition to the motion to amend. (ECF No. 64.)

         Motions to amend are governed by Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 15(a) provides that the Court “should freely give leave [to amend] when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). In the Ninth Circuit, Rule 15(a) is applied with “extreme liberality.” Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1051 (9th Cir. 2003).

         Nevertheless, the court retains discretion to grant or deny a motion for leave to amend. Leadsinger, Inc. v. BMG Music Pub., 512 F.3d 522, 532 (9th Cir. 2008). The court considers five factors when assessing the propriety of a motion for leave to amend: (1) bad faith, (2) undue delay, (3) prejudice to the opposing party, (4) futility of amendment, and (5) whether the plaintiff has previously amended his complaint. Allen v. City of Beverly Hills, 911 F.2d 367, 373 (9th Cir. 1990). The court “need not apply all five factors” when two factors sufficiently persuade the court to deny the motion. Id.

         The proposed second amended complaint names as defendants Sacramento County and County Health Services (“CHS”). (ECF No. 55 at 1.) Plaintiff alleges that a nurse and Dr. Padilla told him that it was CHS policy not to treat hepatitis C. Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Padilla told him that it was cheaper to let him die. (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff alleges that his hepatitis C required medical treatment. (Id. at 3-4.) Plaintiff alleges that defendants, “against administrative policy have accepted and adopted a common practice” to deny plaintiff prescription drug treatment for hepatitis C. (Id. at 4.)

         At the outset, the undersigned agrees with defendant that CHS is not a proper defendant. According to defendant, CHS is a non-independent subsidiary of Sacramento County. Under § 1983, a “person” may be sued for the deprivation of federal rights, and municipalities or other governmental bodies may be sued as a “person.” Monell v. Dept. of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978). An agency or department of a municipal entity is not a proper defendant under Section 1983. Vance v. County of Santa Clara, 928 F.Supp. 993, 996 (N.D. Cal. 1996). Rather, the county itself is the proper defendant. Accordingly, CHS is not a proper defendant.

         With respect to defendant Sacramento County, plaintiff's proposed amendment appears consistent with the legal theory addressed in defendant's summary judgment motion, as clarified by plaintiff's deposition testimony, i.e., defendant had a policy to provide prescription drug treatment for inmates with hepatitis C, but failed to follow it. In the opposition to the pending motion, defendant states that “plaintiff's claims concerning the treatment he was provided for his hepatitis C have been fully addressed in the summary judgment motion and plaintiff's motion to amend should be denied as futile because no new claims are raised.” (ECF No. 64 at 6.)

         The undersigned agrees that a motion for leave to amend is futile if it can be defeated on a motion for summary judgment. Gabrielson v. Montgomery Ward & Co., 785 F.2d 762, 766 (9th Cir. 1986). However, plaintiff is attempting to amend his complaint to include the legal theory addressed in defendant's summary judgment motion. Allowing plaintiff to amend his complaint to conform to the theory addressed in the summary judgment motion is not futile.

         Defendant also argues that it would be prejudiced were the court to grant the motion to amend because it would require defendant to conduct additional discovery, although defendant does not specifically identify this discovery. Because defendant's summary judgment motion is based on the theory raised in the proposed second amended complaint, it is difficult to determine what additional discovery would be required.

         Balancing all of the factors set forth above, the undersigned finds that plaintiff should be allowed to file a proposed second amended complaint as to his claims against defendant Sacramento County that are consistent with the claims addressed in the pending summary judgment motion. Plaintiff's motion to amend to name CHS as a defendant should be denied as well as any claims inconsistent with those addressed in the summary judgment motion.

         Accordingly, for the reasons discussed above, the undersigned recommends that plaintiff's motion to amend be granted in part and denied in part.

         III. Motion for Summary Judgment

         A. Legal Standard for Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is appropriate when it is demonstrated that the standard set forth in Federal Rule of Civil procedure 56 is met. “The court 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).

Under summary judgment practice, the moving party 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) (quoting then-numbered Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)).

         “Where the nonmoving 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.” Nursing Home Pension Fund, Local 144 v. Oracle Corp. (In re Oracle Corp. Sec. Litig.), 627 F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 325); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 advisory committee's notes to 2010 amendments (recognizing that “a party who does not have the trial burden of production may rely on a showing that a party who does have the trial burden cannot produce admissible evidence to carry its burden as to the fact”). 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 Corp., 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.

         Consequently, if the moving party meets its initial responsibility, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue as to any material fact actually exists. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). In attempting to establish the existence of such a factual dispute, the opposing party may not rely upon the allegations or denials of its pleadings, but is required to tender evidence of specific facts in the form of affidavits, and/or admissible discovery material in support of its contention that such a dispute exists. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586 n.11. The opposing party must demonstrate that the fact in contention is material, i.e., a fact that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pacific Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987), and that the dispute is genuine, i.e., the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party, see Wool v. Tandem Computers, Inc., 818 F.2d 1433, 1436 (9th Cir. 1987), overruled in part on other grounds, Hollinger v. Titan Capital Corp., 914 F.2d 1564, 1575 (9th Cir. 1990).

         In the endeavor to establish the existence of a factual dispute, the opposing party need not establish a material issue of fact conclusively in its favor. It is sufficient that “the claimed factual dispute be shown to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial.” T.W. Elec. Serv., 809 F.2d at 630. Thus, the “purpose of summary judgment is to ‘pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial.'” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e) advisory committee's note on 1963 amendments).

         In resolving a summary judgment motion, the court examines the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The evidence of the opposing party is to be believed. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. All reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the facts placed before the court must be drawn in favor of the opposing party. See Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. Nevertheless, inferences are not drawn out of the air, and it is the opposing party's obligation to produce a factual predicate from which the inference may be drawn. See Richards v. Nielsen Freight Lines, 602 F.Supp. 1224, 1244-45 (E.D. Cal. 1985), aff'd, 810 F.2d 898, 902 (9th Cir. 1987). Finally, to demonstrate a genuine issue, the opposing party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. . . . Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no ‘genuine issue for trial.'” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586 (citation omitted).

         By contemporaneous notice provided on August 16, 2013(ECF No. 22), plaintiff was advised of the requirements for opposing a motion brought pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952, 957 (9th Cir. 1998) (en banc); Klingele v. Eikenberry, 849 F.2d 409 (9th Cir. 1988).

         B. Discussion re: Merits

         1. Legal Standard

          “A prison official's ‘deliberate indifference' to a substantial risk of serious harm to an inmate violates the Eighth Amendment.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 828 (1994). “Although the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause, rather than the Eighth Amendment's protection against cruel and unusual punishment, applies to pretrial detainees...we apply the same standards in both cases.” Simmons v. Navajo County, Ariz., 609 F.3d 1011, 1017 (9th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted).

In the Ninth Circuit, the test for deliberate indifference consists of two parts. First, the plaintiff must 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 defendant's response to the need was deliberately indifferent.

Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006) (citations omitted).

         The legal standard for liability for defendant Sacramento County follows herein. “In Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), the Supreme Court held that a municipality may not be held liable for a § 1983 violation under a theory of respondeat superior for the actions of its subordinates.” Castro v. County of Los Angeles, 833 F.3d 1060, 1073 (9th Cir. 2016). In this regard, “[a] government entity may not be held liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, unless a policy, practice, or custom of the entity can be shown to be a moving force behind a violation of constitutional rights.” Dougherty v. City of Covina, 654 F.3d 892, 900 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing Monell, 436 U.S. at 694).

         2. Dispute Regarding Policy 1741

         As discussed above, defendant's policy for treating inmates with hepatitis C is Policy 1741. Plaintiff submitted a request for a copy of this policy directly to the Sacramento Sheriff's Department, which plaintiff refers to as “internal affairs.” (See ECF No. 47.) In response to this request, the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, i.e., “internal affairs, ” provided plaintiff with an older version of Policy 1741. (See ECF Nos. 60, 62.) The policy plaintiff received from “internal affairs” was in effect from approximately 2007 until September 2015. (ECF No. 62-1 at 2.)

         Plaintiff was housed at the Sacramento County Jail from June 2015 to June 2016. As discussed herein, the newer version of Policy 1741 was in effect at the time plaintiff sought treatment for hepatitis C. In the opposition to the pending motion, plaintiff argues that he qualified for prescription drug treatment under the older version of Policy 1741.

         Under either version of Policy 1741, plaintiff must show that his failure to receive prescription drug treatment violated the Fourteenth Amendment. As discussed herein, plaintiff has not met this burden. In determining the standard of care for prescription drug treatment, the undersigned herein discusses the differences between the older and newer versions of Policy 1741. The other differences between the two policies are not relevant to plaintiff's claim. However, in footnotes, the undersigned addresses some of the differences raised by plaintiff in his opposition to the pending motion.

         3. Undisputed Facts

         Undisputed Facts Regarding Policy 1741

         County of Sacramento Correctional Health Services (“CHS”) has in place an express policy that provides for medically appropriate evaluation and treatment of inmate-patients with hepatitis C.[1] (ECF No. 52-2 at 2.) County of Sacramento CHS treatment protocol for hepatitis C is titled Administrative Policy Number 1741 (“Policy 1741”). (Id.) Policy 1741 ...


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.