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Estate of Cruz-Sanchez v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. California

September 17, 2019

ESTATE OF GERARDO CRUZ-SANCHEZ, by and through his successor-in-interest Paula Garcia Rivera, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' AMENDED MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. NO. 107)

          HON. ANTHONY J. BATTAGLIA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Presently before the Court is Defendants' amended motion for summary judgment. (Doc. No. 107.) Plaintiff filed a response to Defendants' motion. (Doc. No. 108.) On December 20, 2018, the Court held a hearing on the instant motion. Based on the arguments presented in the briefing as well as at the hearing, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendants' amended motion for summary judgment.

         BACKGROUND

         The instant matter revolves around the arrest, incarceration and eventual death of Gerardo Cruz-Sanchez. (See generally Doc. No. 83.) Mr. Cruz-Sanchez was incarcerated at the Otay Mesa Detention Center (“OMDC”). (Id. ¶ 1.) CoreCivic contracts with the United States to provide detention services at OMDC. (Doc. No. 107-1 at 6.) CoreCivic provides support to facilitate the delivery of healthcare services. (Id. at 8.) CoreCivic has a “sick call” process where between 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. every morning, if a detainee wishes to be seen they sign the “Sick Call Request Log.” (Id.) If a detainee has trouble reading or writing, an officer can assist. (Id.) Healthcare staff is also available seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day in the event of an emergency. (Id.)

         On February 4, 2016, Mr. Cruz-Sanchez was assigned to the J-Pod at OMDC. (Doc. No. 108 at 11.) On February 11, 2016, Mr. Cruz-Sanchez had an intake assessment and reported no medical problems. (Id. at 12.) On February 12, 2016, Mr. Cruz-Sanchez was seen regarding pain in his upper eye lid. (Id.) On February 14, 2016, Mr. Cruz-Sanchez was seen by a nurse regarding a headache, sore throat, cough and nasal congestion for two days. (Id.) No chest x-ray was ordered nor did the nurse refer him to a licensed physician for further examination. (Id.) On February 16, 2016, Mr. Cruz-Sanchez saw another nurse complaining that he had a cough, body aches, and sore throat for one week. (Id.) He reported his pain level as a 9 out of 10. (Id.) Again neither a chest x-ray was ordered nor was Mr. Cruz-Sanchez referred to a licensed physician. (Id.) On February 17, 2016, Mr. Cruz-Sanchez saw a physician's assistant regarding the same symptoms. (Id.) However, again a chest x-ray was not ordered nor was he referred to a licensed physician. (Id.) On February 26, 2016, an emergency call was made for Mr. Cruz-Sanchez. (Id. at 16.) The other detainees reported that Mr. Cruz-Sanchez was coughing up blood. (Id. at 17.) Mr. Cruz-Sanchez was then brought to the medical clinic and seen by a doctor. (Id.) The doctor then called 911 and Mr. Cruz-Sanchez was transported to the hospital. (Id.) On February 29, 2016, Mr. Cruz-Sanchez passed away from pneumonia. (Id. at 20.)

         Based on Plaintiffs' allegations between February 21st and February 26th, Mr. Cruz-Sanchez began coughing up blood. (Id. at 14-16.) Alejandro Chavez, Mr. Cruz-Sanchez's cellmate, pleaded with Officer Landin to give Mr. Cruz-Sanchez medical care. (Id.) Landin responded to Mr. Chavez's pleas by accusing Mr. Cruz-Sanchez and Mr. Chavez of being homosexual and stating they there would be no help unless Mr. Cruz-Sanchez was dying. (Id. at 15.) On February 26, 2016, Plaintiffs allege that Mr. Cruz-Sanchez could not get out of bed and that his sheets were soaked in blood. (Id. at 17.) Mr. Chavez helped Mr. Cruz-Sanchez sit on a table to clean his sheets. (Id.) Mr. Cruz-Sanchez continued to cough up blood onto the table. (Id. at 18.) Landin observed this scene and proceeded to get very angry that Mr. Cruz-Sanchez was getting the table dirty with blood. (Id. at 19.)

         Ms. Rivera filed her complaint on March 22, 2017. (Doc. No. 1.) On May 3, 2017, Ms. Rivera filed an amended complaint. (Doc. No. 5.) Ms. Rivera was then granted leave to amend her complaint on October 4, 2017. (Doc. No. 40.) Ms. Rivera's second amended complaint was filed on October 5, 2017. (Doc. No. 41.) Shortly thereafter, the Government filed its motion to dismiss or motion for summary judgment. (Doc. No. 43.) On April 17, 2018, the Honorable Judge Roger T. Benitez recused himself from the instant case. (Doc. No. 65.) On July 2, 2018, this Court granted the United States' motion to dismiss. (Doc. No. 74.) On August 7, 2018, the Court granted leave to file third amended complaint. (Doc. No. 83.) On August 7, 2018, Plaintiffs filed their third amended complaint (“TAC”). (Doc. No. 83.) Defendants United States, Landin, and CoreCivic answered the TAC on August 21, 2018. (Doc. Nos. 84, 85.) On September 14, 2018, Defendants Landin and CoreCivic filed the instant motion. (Doc. No. 107.)

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 if the moving party demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A fact is material when, under the governing substantive law, it could affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute is genuine if a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

         A party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323. The moving party can satisfy this burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence that negates an essential element of the nonmoving party's case; or (2) by demonstrating the nonmoving party failed to establish an essential element of the nonmoving party's case on which the nonmoving party bears the burden of proving at trial. Id. at 322-23. “Disputes over irrelevant or unnecessary facts will not preclude a grant of summary judgment.” T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).

         Once the moving party establishes the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to set forth facts showing a genuine issue of a disputed fact remains. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 330. When ruling on a summary judgment motion, a court must view all inferences drawn from the underlying facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

         DISCUSSION

         Defendants seek summary judgment on all claims that Plaintiffs have sought in their TAC.

         A. Bane Act ...


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