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Kinley v. Snider

United States District Court, D. Oregon

July 13, 2017




         Stacey Jo Kinley (“Kinley”) filed a Complaint against Dr. Robert Snider, Mary Raines, and John/Jane Does 1-10 (collectively “Defendants”), alleging a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for a violation of Kinley's Eighth Amendment right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment arising from Defendants' alleged failure to provide adequate medical care. (ECF No. 1.) Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 44), seeking entry of judgment on Kinley's § 1983 claim. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and dismisses Kinley's Complaint.


         Kinley was in the custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections (“ODOC”) from June 23, 2010 until her release on July 21, 2016. (Robert W. Snider Decl. Attach. 1, Aug. 26, 2015.) At the time ODOC took custody of Kinley, she was suffering from pre-existing spinal injuries. In 1994 and 1998, Kinley underwent fusion surgeries following a car accident and a domestic violence incident, respectively. (Michelle Burrows Decl. Ex. 43 at 4, Jan. 30, 2017.) While Kinley reported good results following the 1994 back surgery, in 2008 she became “progressively worse.” (Burrows Decl. Ex. 43 at 4 (“For the past one year, the pain has become more intolerable.”).)

         In July 2010, when Kinley entered the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (“CCCF”), Dr. Snider performed an intake examination and medical screening of Kinley. (Snider Decl. ¶ 6.) During her intake exam, Kinley reported “chronic neck pain and a history of fusion surgeries of the cervical spine at ¶ 3-6 in 1994 and 1999 due to a ruptured disk as a result of a motor vehicle accident; a left ankle open reduction and internal fixation with steel plate . . . in 2001; and right shoulder and back tumor surgical repair, date unknown.” (Snider Decl. ¶ 6.) Dr. Snider was aware of Kinley's pre-existing spinal injuries. (Burrows Decl. Ex. 39 (Robert W. Snider Dep. 48:2-49:24 (acknowledging that he reviewed Kinley's medical records), July 22, 2015 (hereinafter “Snider Dep.”).)

         In accordance with the practice at CCCF, Kinley was assigned to work in the kitchen for six months upon her arrival at the prison. (Burrows Decl. Ex. 41 (Stacey Jo Kinley Dep. 47:7-10 (“[A]nybody that gets here from a new - or just coming into the facility, is required to work in the kitchen for six months before you can look for another job.”), July 22, 2015 (hereinafter “Kinley Dep.”).) In response to her complaints about neck pain while performing her kitchen duties, Dr. Snider placed Kinley on a lifting restriction of no more than twenty pounds for four months, beginning August 3, 2010. (Snider Decl. ¶ 11.) However, Dr. Snider declined, as unnecessary, Kinley's request for a shorter work shift. (Snider Decl. ¶ 11.)

         On August 23, 2010, Kinley fell in the kitchen during her work shift. (Snider Decl. ¶ 12; Kinley Dep. 50:8-51:8.) Immediately after her fall, Kinley told her supervisor that she was “not okay and I need to go to medical.” (Kinley Dep. 54:4-12.) Kinley reported to the nursing staff at CCCF that she fell in the kitchen and hurt her back. (Snider Decl. ¶ 12.) Medical staff placed Kinley “on a no work status until Thursday, August 26, 2010, when she could be seen by a provider.” (Snider Decl. ¶ 12.) On August 26, 2010, at Kinley's request, the no work order and the lifting restrictions were discontinued. (Snider Decl. ¶ 13, Attach. 2 at 115.) However, on the same day, Dr. Kinley extended Kinley's Neurontin prescription and authorized an additional pillow and towel for six months. (Snider Decl. Attach. 2 at 115.)

         In May 2011, Kinley complained of pain radiating through her right side and numbness in her right arm. (Kinley Dep. 56:11-19.) Kinley alleges that despite multiple earlier complaints of pain and discomfort, it was not until she presented with pain and numbness on her right side, i.e., a “new injury, ” that ODOC ordered an x-ray. (Kinley Dep. 58:10-59:12.) With regard to her prior complaints of pain, on July 29, 2010, Kinley had reported to medical staff that she “worked in the kitchen yesterday when I got done my neck hurt so bad I couldn't stand it. I've had # surgeries on my neck. I've been disabled x 10 years you should have all that. I shouldn't be working anyway.” (Burrows Decl. Ex. 12.) The Progress Notes from that visit include the entry: “Provider APPT MADE.” (Burrows Decl. Ex. 12.) The medical records between August 2010 and May 2011 include a number of entries regarding Kinley seeking treatment for pain. (Burrows Decl. Ex. 13 (in August 2010, Kinley complains of a “sore right shoulder”); Ex. 14 (in August 2010, Kinley seeks treatment for “chronic neck pain”); Ex. 15 (in September 2010, Kinley reports that her “butt cheek hurts down to calf”); Ex. 16 (in August 2010, Kinley complains of “frequent numbness” in her right hand and “sometimes” numbness in her right shoulder); Ex. 17 (in September 2010, Kinley seeks treatment for chronic muscle tightness and pain); Ex. 18 (in October 2010, Kinley states that she “fell in kitchen my hips getting worse & worse. They have to do something. I guess I'm just going to have to contact my lawyer.”); Ex. 19 (in November 2010, Kinley requests chiropractic treatment); Ex. 21 (in April 2011, Kinley seeks treatment for “chronic neck & back pain”); Ex. 22 (in May 2011, Kinley reports that she has “been losing strength in my hands. Sometimes I have numbness from my neck down my hand. There's no pain.”).)

         On May 23, 2011, Kinley underwent a cervical spine x-ray that showed evidence of degenerative disc disease:

[Q]uite severe degenerative disc disease involving intervertebral disc spaces from C3 to C6. The bodies of C5-6 and 7 have been surgically fused. IMPRESSION: Anterior subluxation of C3 is most likely due to degenerative changes involving posterior facet joints. There is degenerative disc disease from C3 to C5. There has been a surgical fusion from C5 to C7.

(Snider Decl. Attach. 2 at 163.) The following month, in June 2011, Dr. Snider referred Kinley to ODOC's orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jerry Becker, for an evaluation of Kinley's neck pain. (Burrows Decl. Ex. 27.)

         Dr. Becker evaluated Kinley for her cervical spine complaints. In addition to performing a clinical examination, Dr. Becker reviewed Kinley's x-ray. Dr. Becker diagnosed Kinley with “C5-6, C6-7 fusion with multi-level degenerative disc disease and some subluxation of C3-4.” (Defs. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 3 (Jerry Becker Dep. 25:13-15, Jan. 21, 2016 (hereinafter “Becker Dep.”).) Additionally, Dr. Becker provided a “second diagnosis” to “rule out C7-T1 nerve root compromise on the right side.” (Becker Dep. 25:16-17.) Dr. Becker recommended that Kinley undergo a cervical magnetic resonance imaging (“MRI”), “fairly soon.” (Becker Dep. 26:6-7.)

         On August 2, 2011, Kinley received an MRI. (Snider Decl. Attach. 2 at 165.) Dr. Becker reviewed the MRI report and concluded that “the findings are long-term, multi-year, they are basically a combination of trauma and degenerative disc disease, aging issues.” (Becker Dep. 31:5-8.) Dr. Becker noted that Kinley had not experienced a “fracture or dislocation” and the “spurs” were a result of long-term formation, not a recent trauma. (Becker Dep. 31:10-15.) It was Dr. Becker's opinion that from an “orthopedic surgeon's standpoint there was “no indication . . . for surgery.” (Becker Dep. 44:4-7.)

         The following month, a neurosurgeon, Dr. Magdalene Banasiak, evaluated Kinley for cervical spine surgery. (Burrows Decl. Exs. 31, 32.) Dr. Banasiak examined Kinley and reviewed the same x-ray and MRI that Dr. Becker considered. Dr. Banasiak recommended Kinley have an “EMG and nerve conduction study of the right upper extremity to rule out ulnar neuropathy.” (Burrows Decl. Ex. 32 at 2.) Contrary to Dr. Becker's view, Dr. Banasiak recommended that Kinley “undergo anterior cervical discectomy and fusion at ¶ 4-5 and C3-4 for decompression of the spinal canal, bilateral nerve roots causing radiculopathy, and correction of the progressive kyphosis.” (Burrows Decl. Ex. 32 at 2.) On April 10, 2012, Dr. Brian Ragel performed the surgery recommended by Dr. Banasiak.[1]


         Summary judgment is appropriate where there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). On a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in favor of that party. Porter v. Cal. Dep't of Corr., 419 F.3d 885, 891 (9th Cir. 2005). The court does not assess the credibility of witnesses, weigh evidence, or determine the truth of matters in dispute. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). “Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no ‘genuine issue for trial.'” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).


         I. PLRA ...

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