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Parnell v. Win

United States District Court, E.D. California

January 6, 2020

RICKY PARNELL, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. WIN, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          KENDALL J. NEWMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, in this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his complaint, plaintiff alleges that defendants Dr. Win and Dr. Chen were deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Pending before the court is defendants' motion for summary judgment. As discussed below, the undersigned recommends that the motion be granted.

         II. Allegations/Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges Drs. Win and Chen were deliberately indifferent to his medical need for a lower tier/lower bunk assignment, and that as a result, he suffered unnecessarily in violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment. He seeks injunctive relief against retaliation, general and compensatory damages, as well as punitive damage awards. (ECF No. 1.)

         III. Undisputed Facts[1] (“UDF”)

         1. Plaintiff Ricky Parnell is an inmate in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) who was incarcerated at California State Prison in Solano, California at all times relevant to this lawsuit. (ECF No. 1 at 1.)

         2. Plaintiff was born in 1958 and has a medical history of knee pain. Plaintiff also underwent surgery for a left shoulder tear on September 14, 2011. (UDF 1.)

         3. In 2015, the CDCR and California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS) developed an electronic form and updated clinical criteria for lower tier/bunk chronos. (UDF 2.)

         4. Physicians enter the inmate-patient's medical condition(s) into an electronic form and a chrono is automatically generated based on predetermined clinical criteria. Physicians use their medical training and experience in diagnosing and assessing an inmate-patient's medical condition(s). (UDF 3.)

         5. On June 15, 2015, plaintiff's lower tier/bunk chrono was rescinded because he did not meet updated clinical criteria. (UDF 4.)

         6. Plaintiff remained in a lower tier/bunk following the loss of his lower tier/bunk chrono on June 15, 2015. (UDF 5.)

         7. With respect to the clinical criteria for a lower bunk chrono, plaintiff did not have any of the following: a history of seizure; recent abdominal, chest, or back surgery; a severe orthopedic condition; acute fractures of the long bones and/or torso; a severe mobility restriction requiring the use of an assistive device; severe vision impairment; dementia; a mobility or health concern with substantially limited walking; osteoporosis with a history of two long bone fractures; a disorder or treatment affecting equilibrium; ataxia, neurological impairment, or Parkinson's; amputation or severe weakness of an upper or lower extremity; a serious heart condition/COPD; a severe mobility restriction requiring intermittent wheelchair use; a severe mobility restriction requiring a fulltime wheelchair; or a severe orthopedic condition of the hips, knees, ankles, feet, or an upper extremity. (UDF 6.)

         8. On June 15, 2015, plaintiff did not meet the clinical criteria for a lower bunk, and in Dr. Win's opinion, did not have a medical need for a lower bunk placement at that time. (UDF 7.)

         9. On June 15, 2015, with respect to the clinical criteria for a lower tier chrono, plaintiff was not a wheelchair or walker user, did not have a severe mobility restriction, or a mobility or health concern which substantially limited walking. (UDF 8.)

         10. On June 15, 2015, plaintiff did not meet the clinical criteria for a lower tier, and in Dr. Win's opinion, did not have a medical need for a lower tier placement at that time. (UDF 9.)

         11. At his deposition on February 11, 2019, plaintiff conceded that he did not meet CCHCS' clinical criteria for a lower tier/bunk chrono. (UDF 10.)

         12. On August 26, 2015, plaintiff briefly transferred to North Kern State Prison (NKSP) and returned to Solano on September 3, 2015. (UDF 11.)

         13. Upon plaintiff's return to Solano, he was housed in an upper tier and lower bunk. (UDF 12.)

         14. Dr. Win saw plaintiff on September 14, 2015. (UDF 13.)

         15. Plaintiff had developed a right limp following his recent transfer. (UDF 14.)

         16. On September 14, 2015, Dr. Win examined plaintiff's right knee and it had normal range of motion. (UDF 15.)

         17. On September 14, 2015, Dr. Win continued plaintiff on a knee wrap, submitted a physician's request for services for physical therapy to address plaintiff's limp, and reissued plaintiff's unrestricted housing chrono because he did not meet clinical criteria for a lower tier/bunk at that time. (UDF 16.)

         18. On September 24, 2015, plaintiff was moved to the upper bunk of his upper tier cell. (UDF 17.)

         19. On October 29, 2015, medical received a 7362 from plaintiff complaining of shoulder and knee pain, and expressing concern about the loss of his lower tier/bunk chrono. (UDF 18.)

         20. Plaintiff was seen by a non-party registered nurse (RN) on October 30, 2015, and scheduled for a follow-up with Dr. Win. (UDF 19.)

         21. On October 30, 2015, plaintiff told the RN that moving up and down the stairs and on and off the top bunk was causing him shoulder and knee pain. (UDF 20.)

         22. On October 30, 2015, plaintiff was examined by the RN and his shoulder had no swelling/redness and a normal range of motion. (UDF 21.)

         23. On October 30, 2015, plaintiff's right knee was in a brace and was slightly tender, but plaintiff was ambulatory. (UDF 22.)

         24. On November 4, 2015, Dr. Win ordered plaintiff a new XL neoprene knee brace for his right knee. (UDF 23.)

         25. On November 16, 2015, medical received a 7362 from plaintiff. He explained that his knee was getting worse despite completing physical therapy. Plaintiff inquired about possible knee surgery and requested a lower bunk. (UDF 24.)

         26. Plaintiff was seen by a non-party RN on November 17, 2015. A medical doctor referral was not completed because plaintiff was already scheduled for an appointment. (UDF 25.)

         27. On November 24, 2015, plaintiff submitted a reasonable modification or accommodation request, requesting a lower tier/bunk chrono. (UDF 26.)

         28. On December 4, 2015, plaintiff was moved to a lower bunk in an upper tier cell. (UDF 27.)

         29. Dr. Win saw plaintiff on December 11, 2015. Plaintiff had completed his physical therapy and walked into the clinic with a normal gait. (UDF 28.)

         30. On December 11, 2015, plaintiff complained of knee pain and was provided Tylenol #3 by Dr. Win. (UDF 29.)

         31. On December 11, 2015, Dr. Win also ordered x-rays of plaintiff's knee, which were completed on December 17, 2015. Plaintiff's knee was unchanged since his last examination, showing only mild osteoarthritic changes. (UDF 30.)

         32. Mild osteoarthritic changes in the knee did not meet the clinical criteria for a lower tier/bunk and, in Dr. Win's medical opinion, were perfectly normal in someone of plaintiff's age and did not provide a medical basis for a lower tier/bunk chrono. (UDF 31.)

         33. On December 31, 2015, the Reasonable Accommodation Panel denied plaintiff's request for a lower tier/bunk chrono based on findings from Dr. Win's December 11, 2015 examination. (UDF 32.)

         34. Dr. Win saw plaintiff again on January 5, 2016, for a follow-up regarding complaints of right knee pain. (UDF 33.)

         35. During the January 5, 2016, encounter, plaintiff complained to Dr. Win about left knee pain. The doctor examined plaintiff; plaintiff had a normal gait and no difficulty getting up from the seated position. (UDF 34.)

         36. During the January 5, 2016, encounter, plaintiff requested another knee brace for his left knee. Dr. Win ordered the requested brace. (UDF 35.)

         37. On January 18, 2016, plaintiff reported that around 9:00 a.m. he slipped on a wet floor and landed on his buttocks. (UDF 36.)

         38. Plaintiff complained of knee pain and lower back pain following the unwitnessed fall. (UDF 37.)

         39. Plaintiff was seen by non-party medical providers and given Tramadol after the fall. (UDF 38.)

         40. On January 19, 2016, plaintiff was seen for a follow-up by a non-party RN and was provided Tylenol #3. (UDF 39.)

         41. Dr. Win saw plaintiff on January 27, 2016. The doctor examined plaintiff and Tylenol #3 continued to be provided. (UDF 40-41.)

         42. On January 27, 2016, Dr. Win ordered x-rays of plaintiff's lumbar spine; the results showed mild degenerative changes. (UDF 42.)

         43. Mild degenerative changes in the lumbar spine do not meet the clinical criteria for a lower tier/bunk; in Dr. Win's medical opinion, the changes were consistent with plaintiff's age and did not ...


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