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Dorsey v. Paramo

United States District Court, S.D. California

November 13, 2019

MARK E. DORSEY, Plaintiff,
DANIEL PARAMO, et al., Defendant.


          Hon. Cathy Ann Bencivengo, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Mark E. Dorsey, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights action pursuant to Title 42, United States Code, Section 1983, alleging prison officials at R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility violated his rights under the United States Constitution. [Doc. No. 3.] The matter is now before the Court on the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. All Defendants jointly move for summary judgment against Plaintiff, while Plaintiff only moves for summary judgment against the remaining correctional officer defendants and not against Dr. Shakiba. The motions have been opposed, and Plaintiff, but not Defendants, filed a reply brief. The Court deems the motions suitable for submission without oral argument and that no report and recommendation from Magistrate Judge Crawford is necessary. As discussed below, Defendants' motion is granted with respect to Dr. Shakiba and denied with respect to the remaining Defendants, and Plaintiff's motion is denied.

         I. Background

         The complaint in this case purported to state three claims against a host of defendants, but on August 29, 2018, the Court granted a motion to dismiss counts 2 and 3 and dismissed those claims without prejudice. [Doc. No. 40.] Plaintiff then declined to file an amended complaint. [Doc. No. 42.] Thus, only count 1 for violation of Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment remains in this lawsuit. The only remaining defendants are Dr. Shakiba, who examined Plaintiff at Donovan, and five correctional officers: Jackson, Lay, Cho, Ruelas, and Sigala. The remaining claim arises out Defendants' alleged failure to accommodate Plaintiff's shoulder injury by assigning him to a lower bunk before October 24, 2016. As a result, Plaintiff injured himself on October 23, 2016, while trying to get into his top bunk and slept on his mattress on the floor of his cell for three nights because he feared further injury from trying to get into a top bunk until finally being assigned a lower bunk on October 24, 2016. Specific evidence relevant to the claims against each individual defendant is discussed in greater detail below

         II. Legal Standards

         Rule 56(a) provides that a 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). The party moving for 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) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). If the moving party meets its initial responsibility, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to establish, beyond the pleadings, that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324.

         To avoid summary judgment, the non-moving party is “required to present significant, probative evidence tending to support h[is] allegations, ” Bias v. Moynihan, 508 F.3d 1212, 1218 (9th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted), and “must point to some facts in the record that demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact and, with all reasonable inferences made in the plaintiff[‘s] favor, could convince a reasonable jury to find for the plaintiff[].” Reese v. Jefferson School Dist. No. 14J, 208 F.3d 736, 738 (9th Cir. 2000) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323). The opposing party cannot rest solely on conclusory allegations of fact or law. Berg v. Kincheloe, 794 F.2d 457, 459 (9th Cir. 1986).

         III. Discussion

         The relevant inquiry here is whether Plaintiff has provided evidence that demonstrates a violation of his Eight Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. To maintain an Eighth Amendment claim based on prison medical treatment under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, an inmate must show “deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.” Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976)). “[T]here is a two-pronged test for evaluating a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need:

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. This second prong ... is satisfied by showing (a) a purposeful act or failure to respond to a prisoner's pain or possible medical need and (b) harm caused by the indifference.[”]

Akhtar v. Mesa, 698 F.3d 1202, 1213 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096).

         A prison official exhibits deliberate indifference when he knows of and disregards a substantial risk of serious harm to inmate health. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1970). The official must both know of “facts from which the inference could be drawn” that an excessive risk of harm exists, and he must actually draw that inference. Id. “A determination of ‘deliberate indifference' involves an examination of two elements: the seriousness of the prisoner's medical need and the nature of the defendant's response to that need.” See McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1992), overruled on other grounds by WMX Techs., Inc. v. Miller, 104 F.3d 1133 (9th Cir. 1997) (en banc).

         “Deliberate indifference is a high legal standard.” Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1060 (9th Cir. 2004). Even gross negligence is insufficient to establish deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. See Wood v. Housewright, 900 F.2d 1332, 1334 (9th Cir. 1990). “A defendant must purposefully ignore or fail to respond to a prisoner's pain or possible medical need in order for deliberate indifference to be established.” McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1060. Thus, neither an inadvertent failure to provide adequate medical care, nor mere negligence or medical malpractice, nor a mere delay in medical care (without more), nor a difference of opinion over proper medical treatment, is sufficient to constitute an Eighth Amendment violation. See Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105-06; Sanchez v. Vild, 891 F.2d 240, 242 (9th Cir.1989); Shapley v. Nev. Bd. of State Prison Comm'rs, 766 F.2d 404, 407 (9th Cir. 1984).

         A. ...

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