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Torres v. Snider

United States District Court, D. Oregon

April 23, 2019

TERESA TORRES, et al., Plaintiffs,
DR. ROBERT W. SNIDER, et al., Defendants.


          Michael H. Simon United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs Teresa Torres, Aracely Hernandez, and Gloria Seleen, have brought an action against Dr. Robert W. Snider, Dr. S. Shelton, and D. Brown, alleging that while Plaintiffs were incarcerated at Coffee Creek Corrections Facility (“CCCF”) they were each sexually assaulted by Dr. Snider during mandatory gynecological exams and other medical procedures. Before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and Motion to Strike. ECF 35. For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.


         Plaintiffs Torres, Hernandez, and Seleen, have filed this putative “class action” complaint bringing one federal claim and two state common law tort claims against Defendants. ECF 1. Although Plaintiffs titled their Complaint as a “class action, ” Plaintiffs never filed a motion for class certification, which was due on February 1, 2018. ECF 16-17. Defendants assert that this case should therefore not be considered a class action, which Plaintiffs do not contest in any of their responsive pleadings. Accordingly, the Court will not treat the case as a class action.

         In their Complaint, Plaintiffs Torres, Hernandez, and Seleen allege (1) federal 42 U.S.C. §1983 (“Section 1983”) claims for violations of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, (2) state tort claims for medical negligence, and (3) state tort claims for sexual battery. ECF 1. Plaintiff Seleen alleges that Dr. Snider saw her “on or about September 1, 2016” for “an OB/GYN health issue.” Id. at ¶¶ 9-11. Plaintiff Seleen alleges that Dr. Snider “exposed her vagina and touched her leg in an erotic and caressing fashion near her vagina, . . . instructed her to disrobe in front of him and gave no privacy as he watched her expose herself and then retrieve a device from her cervix.” Id. at ¶ 10. Plaintiff Torres alleges that “[s]ince February 2016, ” Dr. Snider saw her for six to twelve visits for “non-intimate” conditions such as anemia and asthma. Id. at ¶ 17. Plaintiff Torres alleges that Dr. Snider sexually assaulted her with intimate contact, including massaging her shoulders, the area around her breasts, and “down to her buttocks” during these visits. Id. Plaintiff Torres also alleges that she asked for a new provider and was not permitted to have one. Id. Plaintiff Hernandez alleges that Dr. Snider visited her “on or about December 8, 2016” following her gallbladder surgery, asked the nurse to leave the room, exposed Plaintiff Hernandez's vagina and cesarean section (“c-section”) scar, cupped her breast under her bra, and pinched her nipple. Id. at ¶¶ 12-16.

         Plaintiffs allege that Defendant Brown and Defendant Shelton “conspired to hinder or obstruct prosecution of Dr. Snider and/or deprive inmates of safe care.” ECF 1. Plaintiff Torres was released from prison before the filing of the complaint in this case; Plaintiff Seleen is currently incarcerated but will be released before the trial of this matter. Plaintiff Hernandez is incarcerated and will likely remain incarcerated beyond the time set for trial.


         A. Summary Judgment

         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).

         B. Exhaustion

         The exhaustion provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) states:

No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under Section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.

42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Failure to exhaust under the PLRA is “an affirmative defense the defendant must plead and prove.” Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 204 (2007). The defendant has the burden to prove that there was an available administrative remedy, which the prisoner failed to exhaust. Albino v. Baca, 747 F.3d 1162, 1172 (9th Cir. 2014). After the defendant has carried that burden, the prisoner must produce evidence demonstrating that “the local remedies were ineffective, unobtainable, unduly prolonged, inadequate, or obviously ...

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