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Fairley v. Shelton

United States District Court, D. Oregon

October 29, 2014

CECIL FAIRLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
STEVE SHELTON, WILLIAM HOEFEL, COLLETT PETERS, MITCH MORROW, MICHAEL GOWER, MICHAEL PUERINI, HEIDI MILLER, LINDA GRUENWALD, BENNETT NORTON, DANIEL DEWSNUP, KENNETH BECKER, HANSON, J. DIEHL, G. VANHOUTEN, C. DIGIULIO, ROBERT NUTT, EVERS, SPENCER, STEVE FRANKE, EILEEN PURCELL, GARDNER, SHAW, HODGES, BRIDGETT WHELAN, sued in their individual and official capacities, Defendants.

CECIL FAIRLEY, Two Rivers Correctional Institution Umatilla, OR, Plaintiff, Pro Se.

ELLEN F. ROSENBLUM, Attorney General, MICHAEL R. WASHINGTON, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Salem, OR, Attorneys for Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

ANNA J. BROWN, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion (#41) for Summary Judgment and Plaintiff's Motion[1] (#14) for Preliminary Injunction. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and DENIES as moot Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction.

BACKGROUND

On January 7, 2014, Plaintiff Cecil Fairley, an inmate at Two Rivers Correctional Institution (TRCI), filed a pro se Complaint in this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in which he alleges Defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution by denying him appropriate medical care and treatment for his right knee and a back condition.

On January 14, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction in which he sought an order directing Defendants to "provide a medically appropriate course of treatment for Plaintiff's knee" including surgery and to "provide effective pain medication... to alleviate Plaintiff's ongoing nerve/back pain and discomfort."

On July 3, 2014, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment as to all of Plaintiff's claims.

On July 3, 2014, the Court issued a Summary Judgment Advice Notice to Plaintiff advising him that if he did not submit evidence in opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, summary judgment would be entered against him if appropriate.

On August 10, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Response to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. The Court took this matter under advisement on September 29, 2014.

STANDARDS

Summary judgment is appropriate when "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Washington Mut. Ins. v. United States, 636 F.3d 1207, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). See also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party must show the absence of a dispute as to a material fact. Rivera v. Philip Morris, Inc., 395 F.3d 1142, 1146 (9th Cir. 2005). In response to a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and show there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact for trial. Id. "This burden is not a light one.... The non-moving party must do more than show there is some metaphysical doubt' as to the material facts at issue." In re Oracle Corp. Sec. Litig., 627 F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted).

A dispute as to a material fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Villiarimo v. Aloha Island Air, Inc., 281 F.3d 1054, 1061 (9th Cir. 2002)(quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). The court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Sluimer v. Verity, Inc., 606 F.3d 584, 587 (9th Cir. 2010). "Summary judgment cannot be granted where contrary inferences may be drawn from the evidence as to material issues." Easter v. Am. W. Fin., 381 F.3d 948, 957 (9th Cir. 2004)(citation omitted). A "mere disagreement or bald assertion" that a genuine dispute as to a material fact exists "will not preclude the grant of summary judgment." Deering v. Lassen Cmty. Coll. Dist., No. 2:07-CV-1521-JAM-DAD, 2011 WL 202797, at *2 (E.D. Cal., Jan. 20, 2011) (citing Harper v. Wallingford, 877 F.2d 728, 731 (9th Cir. 1989)). When the nonmoving party's claims are factually implausible, that party must "come forward with more persuasive evidence than otherwise would be necessary." LVRC Holdings LLC v. Brekka, 581 F.3d 1127, 1137 (9th Cir. 2009)(citation omitted).

The substantive law governing a claim or a defense determines whether a fact is material. Miller v. Glenn Miller Prod., Inc., 454 F.3d 975, 987 (9th Cir. 2006). If the resolution of a factual dispute would not affect the outcome of the claim, the court may grant summary judgment. Id.

DISCUSSION

I. Standards

Deliberate indifference to serious medical needs is a cognizable claim for violation of the Eighth Amendment proscription against cruel and unusual punishment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). See also Colwell v. Bannister, 763 F.3d 1060, 1066 (9th Cir. 2014)(same).

To sustain [a] deliberate indifference claim, [a plaintiff must] meet the following test: "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."

Peralta v. Dillard, No. 09-55907, 2013 WL 57893, at *3 (9th Cir. Jan. 7, 2013)(quoting Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006)). To satisfy the second prong ( i.e., that defendant's response to the need was deliberately indifferent), a plaintiff must show there was "(a) a purposeful act or failure to respond to a prisoner's pain or possible medical need and (b) harm [was] caused by the indifference.'" Id. (quoting Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096). Deliberate indifference may be established by showing that prison officials have denied, delayed, or intentionally interfered with medical treatment or it may be demonstrated by the way prison officials have provided medical care. Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096.

"Mere negligence in diagnosing or treating a medical condition, without more, does not violate a prisoner's Eighth Amendment rights." Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1057 (9th Cir. 2004)(citation omitted). See also Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1122 (9th Cir. 2012)("Medical malpractice does not become a constitutional violation merely because the victim is a prisoner."). In addition, "a plaintiff's showing of nothing more than a difference of medical opinion as to the need to pursue one course of treatment over another [is] insufficient, as a matter of law, to establish deliberate indifference." Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1122 (quotation omitted).

II. Analysis

As noted, Plaintiff contends Defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment by failing to provide him with an appropriate course of treatment for his right-knee injury including surgery and by failing to provide him with appropriate pain medications and a course of treatment for his back condition.

A. Eleventh Amendment

Plaintiff alleges in his Complaint that he brings his claims against Defendants in their official and individual capacities and seeks damages.

The Ninth Circuit has made clear that claims for damages against defendants in their official capacities are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. See, e.g., Wilson v. Wheeler, No. 12-36006, 2014 WL 3733865, at *1 (9th Cir. Jul. 30, 2014) ("The district court properly dismissed [the plaintiff's] constitutional claims against defendants in their official capacities because those claims are barred by the Eleventh Amendment."); Brown v. Or. Dep't of Corr., 751 F.3d 983, 988-89 (9th Cir. 2014)("[The plaintiff's] claims against the Oregon Department of Corrections and his damages claims against the individual defendants in their official capacities are barred by the Eleventh Amendment.").

Accordingly, the Court grants Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment as to Plaintiff's claims for damages against Defendants in their official capacities.

B. Defendant Michael Gower

Plaintiff alleges in his Complaint that Defendant Gower responded to and denied two of Plaintiff's second grievance appeals on July 27, 2011, and January 8, 2013. The Ninth Circuit, however, has held "[b]ecause inmates lack a separate constitutional entitlement to a specific grievance procedure, '... defendants cannot be held liable under § 1983 for denying [an inmate's grievance] appeal." Shallowhorn v. Molina, 572 F.App'x 545, 547 (9th Cir. 2014)(quoting Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 860 (9th Cir. 2003)).

Accordingly, the Court grants Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment as to Plaintiff's ...


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