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Windham v. California Medical Facility

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 14, 2017




         Plaintiff is a California prisoner proceeding pro se with a civil action. On January 28, 2016, the court screened plaintiff's first amended complaint, as the court is required to do under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, and found service of process appropriate for defendants Yun and Sabin with respect to claims arising under the Eighth Amendment and for negligence under California law. All claims concern denial of adequate medical care. Defendant Sabin and Yun's motion for summary judgment as to the Eighth Amendment claims is before the court.

         I. Plaintiff's Allegations

         In his amended complaint (ECF No. 15), which is signed under the penalty of perjury, plaintiff alleges that on May 8, 2013, plaintiff was treated at the University of California at San Francisco Hospital (UCSF) for a burn on his right upper thigh. The treatment included a skin graft from his lower stomach to his right upper thigh. On May 21, 2013, plaintiff was released from UCSF to the California Medical Facility (CMF). According to plaintiff, when he was released to CMF, doctors at UCSF sent orders with him indicating that plaintiff should return to UCSF in 10 days for a follow up, and that his wounds were not to be disturbed until he returned to UCSF.

         Upon plaintiff's arrival at CMF, he was placed in the “G-2 hospital wing.” On or around May 22, 2013, defendant Yun, a registered nurse whom plaintiff identified by her name tag, visited plaintiff and indicated that she would be changing the dressings on his wounds. Plaintiff informed Nurse Yun that only the dressings on the wounds on his left leg could be changed.[1]Plaintiff said the dressing on his right upper thigh and lower stomach could not be disturbed until his 10 day follow-up. Plaintiff suggested that defendant Yun check his medical records.

         Defendant Yun insisted that she was told to change all of plaintiff's dressings. Plaintiff was then given the option of having all of his dressings changed or refusing treatment altogether. Eventually, plaintiff agreed to have all of his dressings changed.

         According to plaintiff, when defendant Yun removed the bandage on plaintiff's right thigh, plaintiff's skin graft came off causing plaintiff extreme pain and exposing a “big circle of open human flesh.” Plaintiff immediately asked to see a doctor, but Yun simply left the room. Other nurses heard plaintiff screaming and administered treatment until the on-call physician arrived.

         Plaintiff alleges that defendant Dr. Sabin was plaintiff's primary physician at CMF on May 22, 2013. He further alleges that Dr. Sabin ordered defendant Yun to change the dressing on plaintiff's right thigh, thereby ignoring the orders received from UCSF.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard Summary

         judgment is appropriate when it is demonstrated 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). A party asserting that a fact cannot be disputed must support the assertion 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), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials. . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A).

         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. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). “[A] complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.” Id.

         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 does exist. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). In attempting to establish the existence of this factual dispute, the opposing party may not rely upon the allegations or denials of their 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 the dispute exists or show that the materials cited by the movant do not establish the absence of a genuine dispute. 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).

         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 631. 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 the summary judgment motion, 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 ...

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