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Buchanan v. Garikaparthi

United States District Court, S.D. California

November 2, 2017



          Hon Roger T. Benitez United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Torry Buchanan ("Plaintiff) is incarcerated at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility ("RJD") in San Diego. He is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, with a civil Complaint and First Amended Complaint ("FAC") filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Docket Nos. 1, 4.) Presently before the Court is Defendants Dr. A. Garikaparthi and Dr. S. Roberts' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Docket No. 48.)

         On October 16, 2017, the Honorable Mitchell D. Dembin issued a thoughtful and thorough Report and Recommendation, recommending that the Defendants' Motion be granted. (Docket No. 61.) Objections to the Report and Recommendation were due by October 30, 2017. (Id.) On November 1, 2017, the Court received a self-styled document dated October 29, 2017 from Plaintiff captioned 'Opposition to Court's Judgment for Summary Judgment'. (Docket No. 67.) A Notice of Document Discrepancy was generated regarding the filing and the Court ordered the document filed nunc pro tunc to October 31, 2017.[1](Docket No. 66.) Defendant did not file any specific objections. For the reasons that follow, the Report and Recommendation is ADOPTED


         The Report and Recommendation carefully details the relevant factual background of this case, which the Court incorporates by reference.


         A district judge "may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition" of a magistrate judge on a dispositive matter. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). "[T]he district judge must determine de novo any part of the [report and recommendation] that has been properly objected to." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). However, "[t]he statute makes it clear that the district judge must review the magistrate judge's findings and recommendations de novo if objection is made, but not otherwise." United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc); see also Wang v. Masaitis, 416 F.3d 992, 1000 n.13 (9th Cir. 2005). "Neither the Constitution nor the statute requires a district judge to review, de novo, findings and recommendations that the parties themselves accept as correct." Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d at 1121.

         Plaintiff generally objects to the Report's conclusion that he failed to state a claim against Defendants Dr. A. Garikaparthi and Dr. S. Roberts ("Defendants") for deliberate indifference to his serious medical need in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Docket No. 4 at 2-4.) Both of Plaintiff's claims are related to Defendants' alleged failure to provide adequate medical treatment that led to the amputation of three of Plaintiff s toes. (Id. at 3-4.) Having conducted a de novo review, the Court adopts the Report and Recommendation in full.

         Plaintiff's Complaint and FAC allege two claims. (Id.) Claim 1 alleges that Defendant Dr. Garikaparthi violated Plaintiffs Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by failing to provide Plaintiff with adequate medical treatment. (Id. at 3.) Claim 2 alleges that Defendant Dr. Roberts similarly violated Plaintiffs Eighth Amendment right by not fulfilling his obligation in his supervisory capacity to ensure that Plaintiff's medical needs were being adequately met. (Id. at 4.) In essence, Plaintiff alleges the Defendants were aware of the serious medical condition in his right foot big toe, and did not take reasonable steps to minimize the risk caused by the infection or protect him from injury, in this case, amputation of three toes. (Id.)

         "The Constitution 'does not mandate comfortable prisons[.]'" Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994) (quoting Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 349 (1981)). "[B]ut neither does it permit inhumane ones, and it is now settled that 'the treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment[.]'" (Id. at 832 (quoting Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993)). Among other protections, the Eighth Amendment "imposes duties on [prison] officials, who must . . . ensure that inmates receive adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care, and must 'take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates[.]'" (Id. at 832 (quoting Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 526-527 (1984)).

         To state a claim under the Eighth Amendment for inadequate medical care, a plaintiff must allege facts to indicate that a defendant was "deliberate[ly] indifferen[t]" to his "serious medical needs." Colwell v. Bannister, 763 F.3d 1060, 1066 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976)). This includes allegations under "both an objective standard - that the deprivation was serious enough to constitute cruel and unusual punishment - and a subjective standard - deliberate indifference." (Id. at 1066 (quoting Snow v. McDaniel, 681 F.3d 978, 985 (9th Cir. 2012)).

         Plaintiffs Objection states in pertinent part ".. .relys on all of the points and authorities cited within his Complaint." (Docket No. 67.) Pro se pleadings and briefs are to be construed liberally. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep 't, 901 F.2d 696 (9th Cir. 1990). When a pro se plaintiff technically violates a rule, the Court should act with leniency toward the pro se litigant. Motoyama v. Haw. Dep't of Transp., 864 F.Supp.2d 965, 975 (D. Haw. 2012); Draper v. Coombs, 792 F.2d 915, 924 (9th Cir. 1986). Granting Plaintiff great latitude in interpreting his Objection, the Court believes he is objecting to the Report on two grounds: 1) that he sufficiently alleged a serious medical need, and 2) that he sufficiently alleged deliberate indifference. Aside from the aforementioned, the Plaintiff does not raise any specific objections to the Motion for Summary Judgment or Magistrate Judge Dembin's Report. Plaintiffs objections are unfounded.

         First, the Report provides a thorough analysis of the facts of the case and ultimately determines that under the circumstances, it would be likely that a trier of fact would determine that Plaintiffs complaints amounted to a serious medical condition. (Docket No. 61 at 12-13.) The Court, having reviewed the Plaintiffs objection, agrees with Magistrate Judge Dembin's conclusion. Therefore, Plaintiffs objection on this ground is moot.

         Second, as to the sufficiency of Plaintiff s allegations regarding deliberate indifference, the Court agrees that Plaintiff did not allege specific facts from which it may infer any of the Defendants acted with deliberate indifference. "A prison official is deliberately indifferent under the subjective element of the test only if the official 'knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health and safety.'" Colwell, 763 F.3d at 1066 (quoting Toguchi v. Chung,391 F.3d 1051, 1057 (9th Cir. 2004)). "[T]he official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference." Colwell, 763 F.3d at 1066 (quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837) (internal quotations marks omitted). "Deliberate indifference 'may appear when prison officials deny, delay or intentionally interfere with medical treatment, or it may be shown by the way in which prison physicians provide medical care.'" (Id.) at ...

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