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Daniel P. Stoddard v. Cms

February 12, 2011

DANIEL P. STODDARD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CMS, WARDEN OF IMSI, PSYCHNURSE PATCHET, DR. SOMBKE, DR. GREEN, DR. CRAIG, DR. SOLARIS, AND DR. KHATTAIN, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable B. Lynn Winmill Chief U. S. District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

Pending before the Court are a Motion to Dismiss and a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Correctional Medical Services, Inc. (CMS); Sheryl Salaris, M.D.; and Jocelyn Patchett (collectively CMS Defendants) (Dkt. 25 & 26). The Motions are fully briefed. Having reviewed the record, the Court finds that oral argument is unnecessary. Accordingly, having considered the Motion, Response, and Reply, and all supporting affidavits and exhibits, the Court enters the following Order.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Daniel Stoddard (Plaintiff), an inmate, alleges that he received constitutionally inadequate medical, psychiatric, and mental health care from the CMS Defendants, whose duty it was to provide such care to inmates under contract with the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC). Plaintiff was permitted to proceed on his Amended Complaint (Dkt. 6) and his Second Amended Complaint (Dkt. 8), liberally construed together.

On August 28, 2009, Plaintiff was ordered to provide service addresses for any remaining defendants against whom he had been authorized to proceed (Dr. Khattain, Dr. Sombke, Dr. Green, and Dr. Craig, Warden of IMSI), or claims against them would be dismissed. (Dkt. 18.) On June 29, 2010, Plaintiff's request to remove Dr. Green and Dr. Craig as defendants was granted. (Dkt. 29.) Plaintff did not provide service addresses for the remaining defendants.

STANDARD OF LAW

Summary judgment is appropriate where a party can show that, as to any claim or defense, there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(1)(a). One of the principal purposes of the summary judgment "is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims . . . ." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). It is "not a disfavored procedural shortcut," but is instead the "principal tool[ ] by which factually insufficient claims or defenses [can] be isolated and prevented from going to trial with the attendant unwarranted consumption of public and private resources." Id. at 327.

"[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). Material facts are those that may affect the outcome of the case. See id. at 248. The moving party is entitled to summary judgment if that party shows that each material issue of fact cannot be disputed. To show that the material facts are not in dispute, a party may cite to particular parts of materials in the record, or show that the materials cited do not establish the presence of a genuine dispute, or that the adverse party is unable to produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A)&(B); see T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pacific Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322). The Court must consider "the cited materials," but it may also consider "other materials in the record." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(1)(c)(3).

Material used to support or dispute a fact must be "presented in a form that would be admissible in evidence." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(2). Affidavits or declarations submitted in support of or opposition to a motion "must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant or declarant is competent to testify on the matters stated." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(4).

The Court does not determine the credibility of affiants or weigh the evidence set forth by the non-moving party. All inferences which can be drawn from the evidence must be drawn in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. T.W. Elec. Serv., 809 F.2d at 630-31 (internal citation omitted).

The existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the non-moving party's position is insufficient. Rather, "there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party]." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 252. Rule 56(e) authorizes the Court to grant summary judgment for the moving party "if the motion and supporting materials--including the facts considered undisputed--show that the movant is entitled to it."

To state a claim under the Eighth Amendment, a plaintiff must show that he is incarcerated "under conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm," or that he has been deprived of "the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994) (internal citation omitted). To prevail on an Eighth Amendment claim regarding prison medical care, Plaintiff must show that prison officials' "acts or omissions [were] sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to serious medical needs." Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 8 (1992) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103-04 (1976)).

The Supreme Court has opined that "[b]ecause society does not expect that prisoners will have unqualified access to health care, deliberate indifference to medical needs amounts to an Eighth Amendment violation only if those needs are 'serious.'" Id.

The Ninth Circuit has defined a "serious medical need" in the following ways: failure to treat a prisoner's condition [that] could result in further significant injury or the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain; . . . [t]he existence of an injury that a reasonable doctor or patient would find important and worthy of comment or treatment; the presence of a medical condition that significantly affects an individual's daily activities; or the existence of chronic and substantial pain.

McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059-60 (9th Cir. 1992), overruled on other grounds, WMX Technologies, Inc. v. Miller, 104 F.3d 1133 (9th Cir. 1997).

Deliberate indifference exists when an official knows of and disregards a serious medical condition or when an official is "aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of harm exists," and actually draws such an inference. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 838 (1994). Differences in judgment between an inmate and prison medical personnel regarding appropriate medical diagnosis and treatment are not enough to establish a deliberate indifference claim. See Sanchez v. Vild, 891 F.2d 240, 242 (9th Cir. 1989).

Mere indifference, medical malpractice, or negligence will not support a cause of action under the Eighth Amendment. Broughton v. Cutter Lab, 622 F.2d 458, 460 (9th Cir. 1980). A mere delay in treatment does not constitute a violation of the Eighth Amendment, unless the delay causes serious harm. Wood v. Housewright, 900 F.2d 1332, 1335 (9th Cir. 1990). If the defendants are able to show that medical personnel have been "consistently responsive to [the inmate's] medical needs, and there has been no showing that the medical personnel had "subjective knowledge and conscious disregard of a substantial risk of serious injury," a plaintiff's claims may be dismissed by summary judgment prior to trial. Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1061 (9th Cir. 2004).

Under the Eighth Amendment, "a convicted prisoner is entitled to psychological or psychiatric care for serious mental or emotional illness." Inmates of Allegheny County Jail v. Pierce, 612 F.2d 754, 763 (3d Cir. 1979). There is "no underlying distinction between the right to medical care for physical ills and its psychological or psychiatric counterpart." Id. (internal citation omitted). The Eighth Amendment claim fails if the need is not serious, or if the defendants have not exhibited deliberate indifference in providing diagnostic services and treatment.

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, and thus his pleadings must be liberally construed. He filed his Civil Rights Complaint on November 19, 2008 (Dkt. 3) and later filed a supplemental Second Amended Civil Rights Complaint. (Dkt. 8.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants provided constitutionally inadequate medical, psychiatric, and mental health care. In Plaintiff's Complaint, he detailed incidents beginning in 2004, but the Court permitted him to proceed only on claims that accrued no more than two years prior to the filing of the Complaint. (Dkt. 9, p. 2.)

In the Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants Correctional Medical Services, Inc.(CMS), Sheryl Salaris, M.D., and Jocelyn Patchett argue that between January 23, 2007 (two years prior to the filing of his original Complaint) and the date of the Motion for Summary Judgment, the care received was constitutionally adequate.

1. Plaintiff's Care Before January 23, 2007

Although Plaintiff's care before January 23, 2007, cannot serve as the basis for a claim because that time period is beyond the statute of limitations, it is important to review the care to provide a history of his medical and mental health issues. Throughout Plaintiff's incarceration, he has required psychiatric care for various conditions, including schizophrenia, paranoid type, and personality disorder ...


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