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Rob L. Mitchell v. Johanna Smith

August 24, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Larry M. Boyle United States Magistrate Judge


Now pending before the Court are Defendant Philip Valdez's Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 30), and Defendant Johanna Smith's Motion to Dismiss. (Docket No. 39). On June 16, 2010, the court entered an Initial Review Order allowing Plaintiff to proceed with his claims against Defendants Johanna Smith, Lois Adrian, Philip Valdez and Dr. Gerrett. (Docket No. 8). Having reviewed the record, and Defendants' motions, the Court issues the following Order dismissing Plaintiff's Amended Complaint.

In his motion for summary judgment, Valdez argues that Mitchell's complaint should be dismissed for several reasons. First, Valdez argues he should not incur liability merely because of his status as warden, and that Mitchell's claim is insufficient to withstand summary judgment for failure to state a claim against Valdez. Second, Valdez argues that Mitchell's medical records do not support his claims that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. In support of his motion, Valdez argues that the ICC medical records reflect that once Mitchell began complaining about symptoms related to his hernia, ICC medical staff was attentive and diligent in treating his medical condition. Further, it is undisputed that the only reason Mitchell was not given a surgical consultation while at ICC, was because he was transferred out of the facility. Finally, Valdez submits that his motion for summary judgment is warranted because there are no genuine issues of material fact.

Smith argues that she has not been property served, and the complaint against her should be dismissed.


Mitchell is an inmate in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC), alleging that he has had a hernia since approximately 2004. Mitchell claims that his symptoms have increased in recent years, but prison officials refuse to authorize surgery. Mitchell contends that in refusing to authorize hernia surgery, Wardens Smith and Valdez were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs.


1. Summary Judgment Motion

Summary judgment is appropriate where "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). "One of the principal purposes of the summary judgment rule 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 which may affect the outcome of the case. Id. at 248.

The evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and the Court must not make credibility findings. Id. at 255. Direct testimony of the non-movant must be believed, however implausible. Leslie v. Grupo ICA, 198 F.3d 1152, 1159 (9th Cir. 1999). On the other hand, the Court is not required to adopt unreasonable inferences from circumstantial evidence. McLaughlin v. Liu, 849 F.2d 1205, 1208 (9th Cir. 1988).

The Court must be "guided by the substantive evidentiary standards that apply to the case." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. If a claim requires clear and convincing evidence, the issue on summary judgment is whether a reasonable jury could conclude that clear and convincing evidence supports the claim. Id.

The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Devereaux v. Abbey, 263 F.3d 1070, 1076 (9th Cir. 2001) (en banc). To carry this burden, the moving party need not introduce any affirmative evidence (such as affidavits or deposition excerpts) but may simply point out the absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Fairbank v. Wunderman Cato Johnson, 212 F.3d 528, 532 (9th Cir. 2000).

This shifts the burden to the non-moving party to produce evidence sufficient to support a jury verdict in her favor. Anderson, 477 256-57. The non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and show "by her affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, or admissions on file" that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

Only admissible evidence may be considered in ruling on a motion for summary judgment. Orr v. Bank of America, 285 F.3d 764, 773 (9th Cir. 2002); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). In determining admissibility for summary judgment purposes, it is the content of the evidence rather than its form that must be considered. Fraser v. Goodale, 342 F.3d 1032, 1036-37 (9th Cir. 2003). If the contents of the evidence could be presented in an admissible form at trial, those contents may be considered on summary judgment even if the evidence itself is hearsay. Id. (affirming ...

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