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Gines v. Oregon Department of Corrections

United States District Court, D. Oregon

April 22, 2019

DENNIS GINES, Plaintiff,
OREGON DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS (ODOC), a political subdivision in charge of the Oregon State Penitentiary OSP, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Dennis Gines brings this action after suffering an injury while incarcerated at the Oregon State Penitentiary (“OSP”). Plaintiff's feet were burned by boiling water while Plaintiff was working in the OSP Food Services Section. Plaintiff asserts that this injury was due to unsafe working conditions, namely a lack of adequate protective footwear. Plaintiff also asserts that in the course of receiving medical treatment for his burns, Defendant Julie McCrae, a treating nurse for OSP, engaged in the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain to Plaintiff in violation of Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment. Defendants have moved for summary judgment (ECF 49) against all of Plaintiff's claims. For the reasons that follow the Court grants Defendants' motion in part and denies it in part.


         A party 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).


         The factual background is drawn from Plaintiff's Complaint.[1] ECF 2. On May 30, 2015, Plaintiff's feet were burned while he was working in the OSP Food Services Section. Another inmate also working in the Section was using a five-gallon bucket filled with boiling water to clean the floors. As Plaintiff entered the room, the other inmate poured boiling water onto the floor, and the water filled both of Plaintiff's shoes. The water caused burns to Plaintiff's feet, which required medical treatment for 21 days.

         Plaintiff also asserts that at some time prior to being burned, Plaintiff had asked the Assistant Food Services Manager, Richard Ridderbusch, to provide Plaintiff with work boots. Plaintiff states that approximately three-quarters of the inmates in the section were provided with work boots. Ridderbush denied Plaintiff's request and stated that Plaintiff was required to wear his own shoes. Plaintiff asserts that this policy was unreasonable and that if Plaintiff had been issued boots he would not have been injured.

         Plaintiff received treatment in the OSP infirmary as a result of the injury. Plaintiff chose 6:00 PM as his daily treatment time, and Plaintiff states that his treatment went well for several days. On June 4, 2015, however, Plaintiff was treated by nurse Julie McCrae, and Plaintiff asserts that McCrae “expressed her anger with Plaintiff for being scheduled to change his bandages at a time she disagreed with.” ECF 2. Plaintiff asserts that McCrae insisted that Plaintiff's bandage changes be scheduled for 3:00 PM beginning the next day. Plaintiff asked McCrae to keep 6:00 PM as his appointment time, but McCrae said no.

         The next day McCrae was not on duty, and Plaintiff asked another nurse, nurse Hughes, if he could return his bandage-change schedule to 6:00 PM. Nurse Hughes allowed the change and rescheduled Plaintiff. On June 9 at 6:00 PM, when Plaintiff was there for his appointment, McCrae was leaving her shift and saw Plaintiff. The next day, McCrae called Plaintiff to the infirmary at 2:45 PM using a cell block sergeant's pass. When Plaintiff arrived, McCrae allegedly began to yell at Plaintiff for having his schedule changed.

         McCrae also “insisted that she change Plaintiff's bandage, ” and Plaintiff attempted to unwrap his bandage himself, fearing that she would harm him. Plaintiff asserts that McCrae was clearly angry, and that he attempted to explain to McCrae that the wound was still fresh. McCrae allegedly said that “I'll be the judge of that, ” and “grabbed the bandage and pulled it straight up, causing the bandage and gauze pad to twist around Plaintiffs foot until it finally came loose.” The unwrapping tore Plaintiff's wound open and removed flesh, causing the wound to bleed. Plaintiff alleges that McCrae began to laugh, and that she said “[l]ook, there's no blood, ” even as she began to use towels to soak up Plaintiff's blood.

         Plaintiff asserts that he sent a three-page Inmate Communication to McCrae, asking her to explain why she had treated him in the way she did. Plaintiff states that McCrae has not responded. Plaintiff returned to the infirmary the next day, and Plaintiff asserts that he discovered that his medical records showed that McCrae did not make a log for his June 10th encounter. Because, Plaintiff asserts, it is the standard procedure in ODOC Health Services to make a log note in an inmate's medical record every time an inmate receives treatment, this missing log entry is, in Plaintiff's view, evidence of McCrae's attempt to conceal her infliction of injury to Plaintiff.

         On June 11th, Plaintiff explained what happened, to Nurse Olachea and Nurse Hughes, and he showed them his bloody bandage. Plaintiff wanted both nurses to witness the bandage and to update his medical file accordingly. Plaintiff asserts that the two nurses said they would update Plaintiff's medical file. When Plaintiff did not hear from either nurse within the 30-day limit to file a grievance, he sent them both a communication to remind them that they said they would make a notation in Plaintiff's medical file. Instead of getting a response back from either Olachea or Hughes, Plaintiff received a response from Nurse Manager Magee. Magee advised Plaintiff not to send any more communications to the nurses and accused Plaintiff of using “staff splitting tactics.” The next day, Magee issued Plaintiff a Major Disciplinary Report. Plaintiff argues that Magee intercepted Plaintiff's communications in an effort to prevent him from documenting the improper actions of nurse McCrae.


         Defendants argue that they are entitled to summary judgment because: (1) Plaintiff's claims against Defendants in their official capacities are barred by the Eleventh Amendment; (2) Defendants, in their individual capacities, are entitled to qualified immunity because Plaintiff cannot establish a violation of his constitutional rights; and (3) ...

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