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French v. Cain

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

March 30, 2018

JIM H. FRENCH Plaintiffs,
v.
BRAD CAIN, Superintendent; SNAKE RIVER CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION; AMY HUGHS [sic, Head Nurse; STEVE SHELTON, Director; HASSELBACH, RN; PIEKARZ, RN et al.; JANE DOE; Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          MICHAEL W. MOSMAN CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Jim H. French is proceeding pro se in this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights action. Mr. French is in the custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections (“ODOC”) and is incarcerated at the Snake River Correctional Institution (“SRCI”). In his Second Amended Complaint, which names Brad Cain, Aimee Hughes, Steve Shelton, M.D., and Debra Hasselbach and Malica Piekarz as defendants, Mr. French alleges a violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs based on the denial of his prescribed medication. Defendants move for summary judgment on Mr. French's claims. For the reasons explained below, I DENY Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [33] as moot with respect to their Eleventh Amendment ground, GRANT the Motion with respect to the three other grounds and dismiss this case with prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         Mr. French suffers from mental illness and controls his illness by taking three medications, one of which is Hydroxyzine. (Second Am. Compl. at 3, dkt. no. 14). Mr. French's Second Amended Complaint raises two almost identical claims of deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Id. at 3-5).

         Specifically, Mr. French alleges defendant Hasslebach wrongly denied him his Hydroxyzine on December 23, 2015, by drawing a line through the medication chart showing it as discontinued even though the medication was neither expired nor cancelled by a doctor. (Id. at 3 and 5). Although he received his Hydroxyzine as prescribed for the next few days, Mr. French alleges defendant Piekarz again wrongfully denied his medication on December 28, 2015. (Id.). According to Mr. French, defendant Piekarz sent his Hydroxyzine back to the pharmacy without any order from a doctor to do so. (Id.). Mr. French also alleges that defendants Hasslebach and Piekarz's failure to give him his medication on those two dates[1] caused him to engage in misconduct at his job on December 30, which resulted in him losing his job, losing his honors housing, and incurring other discipline. (Id. at 3 and exhibit 6).

         Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on September 8, 2017. Defendants Cain, Hughes, and Shelton assert they are entitled to summary judgment because Mr. French has failed to allege their personal involvement in the alleged Eighth Amendment violations. (Mot. Summ. J. at 7-9, dkt. no. 33). All Defendants allege they are entitled to summary judgment on the claims against them in their official capacity because the Eleventh Amendment bars these claims. (Id. at 9-10). Defendants Hasselbach and Piekarz allege they are entitled to summary judgment because Mr. French fails to allege facts sufficient to establish an Eighth Amendment violation. (Id. at 10-14). Finally, Defendant Hasselbach and Piekarz argue, even if Mr. French has established an Eighth Amendment violation, qualified immunity shields them from liability. (Id. at 14-5).

         On September 11, 2017, the Court issued a Summary Judgement Advice Notice and Scheduling Order. As well as setting deadlines for Mr. French's Response, the Order explained that, if granted, Defendants' Summary Judgment Motion could end Mr. French's case and explained what Mr. French needed to do to oppose the Motion. (Order, dkt. no. 35). Mr. French filed a Response to Defendants' Motion on November 2, 2017. Then, Mr. French filed a “Motion to Extend [the] Time to Refile Response to Motion for Summary Judgment, ” which I construed as a motion for an extension of time to refile his Response. I allowed, but did not require, Mr. French to refile his response and noted if he did not refile a response, I would consider the November 2, 2017, Response in deciding the summary judgment motion. (Order, dkt. no. 43).

         Mr. French did not refile his Response, but he did file exhibits in support of his Response on December 5, 2017. The exhibits Mr. French filed on December 5, 2017, largely mirror the exhibits attached to his Second Amended Complaint. I accept Mr. French's exhibits filed on December 5, 2017, and consider them and his November 2, 2017, Response in deciding Defendants' Summary Judgment Motion. Defendants did not file a Reply.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         At summary judgment, the moving party bears the initial burden of pointing out the absence of a genuine issue of fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). This burden is met either by “produc[ing] evidence negating an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim or show[ing] that the non-moving party does not have enough evidence of an essential element to carry its ultimate burden of persuasion at trial.” Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co., Ltd. v. Fritz Companies, Inc., 210 F.3d 1099, 1103 (9th Cir. 2000). If the moving party carries its burden, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to set forth evidence to support its claim and to show there is a genuine issue of fact for trial. Id. The court views the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (quotations and citation omitted). This is especially true when the non-movant is a pro se litigant. Garaux v. Pulley, 739 F.2d 437, 439 (9th Cir. 1984) (stating pro se pleadings are liberally construed, particularly where civil rights claims are involved). Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (quotations and citation omitted).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Motion for Summary Judgment Based on Eleventh Amendment.

         In his Response, Mr. French clarifies that he intended to sue Defendants in their individual capacities. (Resp. at p. 16, dkt. no. 39). Accordingly, I DENY Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment based on the Eleventh Amendment barring claims against them in their official capacities as moot.

         II. Motion for Summary Judgment on Claims against Defendants ...


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