United States District Court, D. Oregon
Paul Schaefer, pro se.
M. Madkour, County Attorney for Multnomah County Oregon, and
Jacqueline Kamins, Senior Assistant County Attorney,
Multnomah County Attorney's Office, 501 S.E. Hawthorne
Blvd., Suite 500, Portland, Oregon 97214. Of Attorneys for
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael H. Simon United States District Judge
Jason Schaefer brings this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 against Multnomah County, Dr. Angelina Platas, and ten
unknown defendants (“Defendants”) alleging
violations of his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights
while he was in custody at the Multnomah County Detention
Center (“MCDC”). Plaintiff claims that Defendants
denied his repeated requests for stronger narcotic pain
medications and these denials amounted to deliberate
indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical condition.
Defendants move for summary judgment on all of
Plaintiff's claims. Because the Court concludes that
Plaintiff has not met the standard of deliberate indifference
to his serious medical needs required for liability under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, Defendant's Amended Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF 63) is GRANTED.
is entitled to 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 moving party has the burden of
establishing the absence of a genuine dispute of material
fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323
(1986). The court must view the evidence in the light most
favorable to the non-movant and draw all reasonable
inferences in the non-movant's favor. Clicks
Billiards Inc. v. Sixshooters Inc., 251 F.3d 1252, 1257
(9th Cir. 2001). Although “[c]redibility
determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing
of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions,
not those of a judge . . . ruling on a motion for summary
judgment, ” the “mere existence of a scintilla of
evidence in support of the plaintiff's position [is]
insufficient . . . .” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252, 255 (1986). “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 Elec. Indus. Co. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citation
and quotation marks omitted).
doctrine of qualified immunity protects government officials
from liability for civil damages.” Wood v.
Moss, 134 S.Ct. 2056, 2066-67 (2014); Krainski v.
Nevada ex. Rel. Bd. of Regents, 616 F.3d 963, 968 (9th
Cir. 2010). “Qualified immunity balances two important
interests-the need to hold public officials accountable when
they exercise power irresponsibly and the need to shield
officials from harassment, distraction, and liability when
they perform their duties reasonably.” Pearson v.
Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009). “Whether
qualified immunity can be invoked turns on the
‘objective legal reasonableness' of the
official's acts. And reasonableness of official action,
in turn, must be ‘assessed in light of the legal rules
that were clearly established at the time [the action] was
taken.'” Ziglar v. Abbasi, 137 S.Ct. 1843,
1866 (2017) (citation omitted) (alteration in original)
(quoting Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 819
(1982) and Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 639
(1987)). “The privilege is an immunity from
suit rather than a mere defense to liability; . . . it
is effectively lost if a case is erroneously permitted to go
to trial.” Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194,
200-01 (2001) (quotation marks omitted) (emphasis in
original). For this reason, the Court has “stressed the
importance of resolving immunity questions at the earliest
possible stage in litigation.” Hunter v.
Bryant, 502 U.S. 224, 227 (1991) (per curiam). Qualified
immunity, however, is only an immunity from suit for damages,
it is not an immunity from suit for declaratory or injunctive
relief. See L.A. Police Protective League v. Gates,
995 F.2d 1469, 1472 (9th Cir. 1993).
Saucier, the Supreme Court outlined a two-step
process for determining the applicability of the qualified
immunity doctrine. 533 U.S. at 200. The first step is to
determine “whether a constitutional right would have
been violated on the facts alleged.” Id. The
second step is to determine “whether the right was
clearly established.” Id. The constitutional
issue, however, need not be addressed first in every case.
Pearson, 555 U.S. at 227. Regardless of whether a
constitutional violation occurred, the officer should prevail
if the right asserted by the plaintiff was not clearly
established or the officer could have reasonably believed
that his particular conduct was lawful. Romero v. Kitsap
Cty., 931 F.2d 624, 627 (9th Cir. 1991).
October 11, 2017, Plaintiff's left hand was severely
injured when an explosive device detonated. He underwent a
surgical procedure at Legacy Emanuel Hospital to remove his
thumb, index finger, and a portion of his middle finger from
his left hand. Plaintiff was prescribed Diluadid, a strong
narcotic pain medication, also known as hydromorphone, as
well as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. After the surgery,
Plaintiff spent a week at the Washington County Jail. One
week later, Plaintiff had a follow-up appointment with
doctors at Summit Orthopedics and was then transferred to the
medical unit at MCDC. The orthopedist at Summit indicated
that Plaintiff's hand was healing well and determined
that Plaintiff should begin to reduce his pain medications.
The doctors changed Plaintiff's pain medication from
Dilaudid, which is typically only prescribed in a hospital
setting, to hydrocodone, also known as Norco, another
narcotic pain medication that is not as strong.
several days, Plaintiff appeared to be tolerating the pain
with minimal discomfort. Dr. Angelina Platas, saw Plaintiff
on October 20, 2017 and spoke to Plaintiff about the
importance of weaning him off of pain medications to reduce
the risk of addiction, increase the rate of the healing
process, increase physical activity, and reduce the risk that
Plaintiff would suffer common side effects of long-term
narcotics use, such as anxiety and depression. See
Platas Decl. ¶ 6. Dr. Platas informed Plaintiff that
Multnomah County maintains a policy of discontinuing the use
of narcotics seven days after surgery. Plaintiff requested
increased pain medication but instead received an arm sling
to keep his hand elevated. On October 21, Plaintiff again
requested increased pain medication and refused to allow jail
staff to change the dressing on his hand. Seale Decl. ¶
15. The following morning, Plaintiff allowed a nurse to clean
and redress his wound, and the nurse noted that Plaintiff
appeared to tolerate the dressing change without significant
pain. Id. at ¶ 17. Plaintiff requested
increased pain medication and declined the nurse's offer
of ice and elevation as an alternative means to reduce pain.
Id. at ¶ 18. A nurse responded by letter to
Plaintiff's request for increased pain medication and
denied his request. After that, Plaintiff wrote a letter to
Dr. Platas that contained threatening content, and it was
determined that Dr. Platats would no longer treat Plaintiff
in person. Id. ¶¶ 19-20.
Michael Seale examined Plaintiff on October 25, 2017.
Plaintiff requested an increase in pain medication and Dr.
Seale ordered an increase in Norco. Id. ¶ 25.
Later that day, Plaintiff had an appointment with doctors at
Legacy Emanuel Trauma Surgery, ...