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Hill v. Reinke

United States District Court, D. Idaho

December 18, 2014

DAVID TYLER HILL, Plaintiff,
v.
BRENT REINKE, SHANE EVANS, JANE DOE I, JANE DOE II, CORIZON (a/k/a CORRECTIONAL MEDICAL SERVICES), RANDY BLADES, VICKI HANSEN, SHANNON BLACKBURN, RICHARD CRAIG, and CLAUDIA LAKE, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

B. LYNN WINMILL, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff David Tyler Hill, a prisoner in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC), is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action. Pending before the Court are Defendant Corizon's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 34); Defendants Brent Reinke's, Shane Evans's, Randy Blades's, Vicky Hansen's, Shannon Blackburn's and Richard Craig's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 37)[1]; Plaintiff David Hill's Motion to Amend Complaint (Dkt. 40) and his Motion for Judicial Notice (Dkt. 42); the IDOC Defendants' Motion to Strike, in which Defendant Corizon joins (Dkt. 44); Plaintiff Hill's Motion to File a Response to Motion (Dkt. 48); and Plaintiff Hill's renewed motion for appointment of counsel (Dkt. 50).

Having fully reviewed the record, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and record and that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument. Accordingly, the Court will decide this matter on the record without oral argument. D. Idaho L. R. 7.1. For the reasons that follow, the Court concludes that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Therefore, the Court will grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. All other motions are denied as explained below.

INTRODUCTION

The present lawsuit is the second lawsuit filed by plaintiff concerning the treatment provided to him on C-Block, Tier Three, located within the Secure Mental Health Unit (MHU) at Idaho Maximum Security Institution (IMSI) beginning on April 11, 2011. See Hill v. Wamble-Fisher et al., Case 1:11-cv-00101-REB. This tier is known as C-3. C-3 is a specialized mental health treatment unit, which is located within IMSI. The unit is "designed to help identify an offender's acute mental health needs and to initiate appropriate treatment. Placement in C-3 is by referral only." (Eliason Aff. ¶ 8, Dkt. 34-3 at 3). The decision for an inmate to be admitted into C-3 is made by the IDOC mental health treatment team supervised and under the direction of psychologist Richard Craig. Id.

Defendant Richard Craig is the Chief Psychologist for the IDOC, and coordinates the care of patients at IMSI. Id. ¶ 7. In 2011, C-3 was staffed by a psychologist from the IDOC, Dr. Craig, and Corizon staff, which included two psychiatrists, a nurse practitioner, social workers, psychiatric technicians, and a mental health coordinator. Id. ¶ 10. Psychiatrist Scott Eliason was part of the treatment team in 2011 when Hill was housed at C-3. Dr. Eliason describes the treatment and behavioral system in C-3 as follows:

Offenders are expected to take all prescribed medications and respect all staff and treatment team members as well as other offenders. They are also expected to follow the directions of the treatment and custody staff and the Idaho Department of Correction's rules and regulations.
***
All offenders entering the Mental Health Unit are initially placed on Tier 3. Offenders housed in C-3 are subject to a level system that was designed to keep them and staff safe and secure. Levels are assigned based on offender behaviors, security risk, level of functioning, program compliance, treatment participation and psychiatric presentation. There are four levels with Level 1 being the most restrictive and, non-level, the least restrictive. Level 2 does not allow personal property, which includes reading books, photo albums, bibles, personal letters and paper, although legal paperwork is allowed. Phone privileges and access to security pens and writing paper are coordinated by treatment team staff. Offenders are not allowed any contact with other offenders. Showers and linen exchanges are done on schedule.
Level status is discussed by the treatment team on a weekly basis and adjusted depending upon an offender's behavior, progress with treatment, and participation for the prior week. If an offender has not engaged in any disruptive, aggressive or threatening behavior, has been compliant with his treatment plan, which includes medication adherence, and establishes appropriate activities of daily living, then their offender level could be assessed for moving to a less restrictive level.

Id. ¶ 10-12.

Hill alleges that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, and to adequate mental health care during his time in C-3, as well as his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process by transferring him to C-3 without a hearing.

PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT

Hill filed a motion to amend his complaint on May 29, 2014. He proposes to correct the misspelled names of the Defendants; identify the Doe Defendants; dismiss Defendant Claudia Lake; dismiss his due process claim; include additional factual details against Corizon; and explain the injunctive relief he is seeking. (Dkt. 40.)

The Court's case management order, entered on September 18, 2013 (Dkt. 27), required the parties to amend pleadings and join parties within 90 days after entry of the scheduling order, and for discovery to be completed within 150 days. Dispositive motions were due within sixty days after the close of discovery, and were timely filed by Defendants on April 15 and 16, 2014. Defendants oppose Hill's motion on the grounds that it was untimely made, citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b). Hill contends he was unaware of Rule 16(b)'s requirements.

Motions to amend a pleading filed after the scheduling order deadline has expired are governed by the restrictive provisions of Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b), which require a showing of "good cause." Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 608 (9th Cir. 1992). A court should find good cause only if the moving party shows he "could not reasonably meet the established timeline in a scheduling order despite [his] diligence." DIRECTV, Inc. v. Busdon, No. CV-04-265-S-LMB, 2005 WL 1364571, at * 1 (D. Idaho June 8, 2005). Rule 16 was designed to facilitate more efficient disposition of cases by settlement or by trial. Johnson, 975 F.2d at 610-11. If disregarded, it would "undermine the court's ability to control its docket, disrupt the agreed-upon course of the litigation, and reward the indolent and the cavalier." Id .; see also Rule 16 Advisory Committee Notes (1983 Amendment). The moving party's diligence governs the good cause standard. Johnson, 975 F.2d at 608. "When determining whether to grant a motion to amend a scheduling order, a court may also consider "the existence or degree of prejudice to the party opposing the modifications." Id. But if the moving party "was not diligent, the inquiry should end." Id.

Here, the only grounds Hill cited in support of his motion were his general unawareness of Rule 16(b)'s requirements, and his desire to remedy the technical requirements of his complaint in light of Defendants' motions for summary judgment. The Court is mindful that Hill is proceeding pro se and is incarcerated. "Pro se prison inmates, with limited access to legal materials, occupy a position significantly different from that occupied by litigants represented by counsel." Jacobsen v. Filler, 790 F.2d 1362, 1365 n. 4 (9th Cir. 1986) (citation omitted). Courts have a duty to liberally construe the pleadings of pro se litigants, particularly those filed by pro se prisoners. See Zichko v. Idaho, 247 F.3d 1015, 1020 (9th Cir. 2001). But, pro se litigants are nonetheless bound by "the same rules of procedure that govern other litigants, " King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987), including Rule 16(b)'s requirements.

The Court can discern no good cause based upon Hill's rationale that he will correct deficiencies in his Complaint. First, he proposes to add defendants by naming the Doe Defendants. Hill has offered no explanation why those defendants could not have been named earlier. Next, he proposes to "add" factual information. But, Hill has not offered any legitimate reason why he could not have included these facts prior to the deadline for amending pleadings. And finally, granting Hill's motion would unfairly prejudice Defendants in this matter, given that discovery is now closed and Defendants have timely filed their respective motions for summary judgment.

The Court is therefore not inclined to amend its case management order considering the lack of good cause to do so and Hill's neglect in proposing to file his proposed amended complaint after the deadline. The motions for summary judgment will therefore proceed based upon the initial Complaint filed in this matter, and the Motion to Amend will be denied.

However, the Court will construe Hill's motion to amend as a motion to dismiss Defendant Claudia Lake. Lake was never served with the original complaint, and Hill has not continued to prosecute this matter against her. See Response brief at 2 (Dkt. 39 at 2) (indicating Lake has not been served). Lake may be dismissed from this action for failure to comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(m). Further, Hill's motion explains he intends to "drop" Lake from his complaint. Accordingly, Defendant Claudia Lake will be dismissed from this action.

PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO TAKE JUDICIAL NOTICE

Hill requests the Court to take judicial notice of Idaho Code §§ 66-326, 335, and 1301-1318. Hill argues the statues are relevant and applicable to his complaint, because the Idaho Secure Medical Facility constitutes a "Mental Health Unit" covered by the statutes. Defendants oppose Hill's motion for judicial notice, asserting that Idaho statutes are not proper "adjudicative facts" to which Fed.R.Evid. 201 applies. Defendant further asserts that the Idaho code sections cited are irrelevant to Hill's federal constitutional claims.

Title 66, Chapter 3 of Idaho Code applies to govern the voluntary or involuntary admittance of mentally ill individuals, including prisoners, to any public or private hospital designated as a covered "facility" pursuant to board of health and welfare rules and regulations. Idaho Code §§ 66-317(7), 66-315. Hill did not identify any violations of state law in his complaint. Nor has Hill provided evidence, beyond his own speculation, that the acute mental health unit at IMSI constitutes a "facility" as defined by Idaho Code § 66-371(7). Moreover, the Idaho code sections cited are irrelevant to the federal constitutional claims alleged in Hill's complaint and allowed to proceed pursuant to the Court's Initial Review Order (Dkt. 3.) Finally, violation of state law does not lead to liability under Section 1983. Campbell v. Burt, 141 F.3d 927, 930 (9th Cir. 1998). Hill's motion will therefore be denied.

PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO FILE OBJECTION TO REPLIES

Hill explains in his third motion that he does not wish to file a sur-reply to Defendants' reply memorandums filed in support of their motions for summary judgment, but rather to object to the untimely and late-filed reply memorandums. Hill argues that, because Defendants objected to his late filed response brief, he should be permitted the opportunity to object to Defendants' untimely reply briefs and have them stricken from the record. Defendants do indeed complain that Hill filed his response brief late. The Court will therefore address the relative timeliness of the briefs as they pertain to Defendants' motions for summary judgment.

Corizon timely filed its motion for summary judgment on April 15, 2014, (Dkt. 34), and the IDOC Defendants timely filed their motion for summary judgment on April 16, 2014, (Dkt. 37).[2] Because of the interplay among Fed.R.Civ.P. 5, 6, and Dist. Idaho L. Rule 7.1, a party has twenty-one days, plus an additional three days, within which to file a response brief. Thus, Hill's response to Corizon's Motion was due Friday, May 9, 2014, and his response to IDOC Defendant's motion was due Monday, May 12, 2014. Hill's "objection" to Defendants' motions for summary judgment is dated May 16, 2014, and was received by the Court and filed on May 20, 2014. (Dkt. 39.) Hill's response brief was therefore untimely.

Defendants' reply briefs were due within seventeen days (14 days plus an additional 3 days) after service of Hill's (tardy) response brief. Dist. Idaho L. Rule 7.1(b)(3); Fed.R.Civ.P. 5, 6. That deadline expired on Monday, June 2, 2014. Defendants' respective replies were indeed filed late, on June 3, 2014, and June 5, 2014. (Dkt. 43, 45.) Reply briefs are, however, optional under Dist. Idaho L. Rule 7.1(b).

The Court sees no reason to strike any party's brief on the grounds of untimeliness under the circumstances. While the Court does not condone lackadaisical adherence to generally applicable procedural rules, the Court cannot grant a motion for summary judgment solely because the opposing party has failed to file an opposition, or in this case, a tardy opposition that Defendants seek to have this Court ignore as if never filed. Cristobal v. Siegel, 26 F.3d 1488, 1494-95 & n.4 (9th Cir. 1994) (unopposed motion may be granted only after the court determines there are no material issues of fact); see also United States v. Real Property at Incline Village, 47 F.3d 1511, 1520 (9th Cir. 1995) (local rule cannot mandate automatic entry of judgment for moving party without consideration of whether motion and supporting papers satisfy Fed. R. Civ.P. 56), overruled on other grounds by Degen v. United States, 517 U.S. 820, 116 S.Ct. 1777, 135 L.Ed.2d 102 (1996); see also Marshall v. Gates, 44 F.3d 722, 725 (9th Cir. 1995) (summary judgment may not be granted simply because opposing party violated a local rule, if movant did not meet burden of demonstrating absence of genuine issue for trial).

Thus, the Court must still determine if Defendants have met their burden. Consideration of Hill's arguments and the relevant authority cited in that regard will aid the Court, as will Defendants' respective reply briefs. Although the Court would be well within its authority to not consider Hill's response brief or defendants' replies, in the exercise of its discretion, and in light of Ninth Circuit authority, it declines to do so here and will reach the merits of the summary judgment motions giving consideration to Hill's arguments advanced in his response brief, and Defendants' arguments in their reply briefs. Therefore, Plaintiff's motion will be denied as moot.

PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL

Unlike criminal defendants, prisoners and indigents in civil actions have no constitutional right to counsel unless their physical liberty is at stake. Lassiter v. Dept. of Social Services, 452 U.S. 18, 25, 101 S.Ct. 2153, 68 L.Ed.2d 640 (1981). Whether a court appoints counsel for indigent litigants is within the court's discretion. Wilborn v. Escalderon, 789 F.2d 1328, 1330-31 (9th Cir. 1986); Terrell v. Brewer, 935 F.2d 1015, 1017 (9th Cir. 1991).

The Court finds none of the factual information contained in Hill's new Motion shows that the earlier decision denying appointment of counsel should be disturbed. See Order (Dkt. 32).[3] Hill generally cites the difficulties he has had conducting discovery, contending that Defendants have failed to "reveal" information relevant to Hill's claims in their respective initial disclosures. But, nothing prevented Hill from propounding his own discovery, which would have allowed Hill to draft and serve written discovery upon Defendants relevant to his claims and thereby obtain the documents he complains are in Defendants' custody and control. Second, Hill asserts he is having difficulty in presenting his response to Defendants' motions for summary judgment, contending he is unable to present the evidence properly before the Court in light of Defendants' motion to strike. Hill further contends he has no access to the relevant law, which appointment of counsel would alleviate.

There is no doubt that it is difficult to litigate from a prison cell and that pro se individuals do not have the legal training or resources to do what they could if they were lawyers or had lawyers. However, prisoner status and lack of legal expertise are not enough to warrant appointment of counsel. Here, Hill's inability to more fully litigate his claims is an "incidental (and perfectly constitutional) consequence[] of conviction and incarceration." Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 355, 116 S.Ct. 2174, 135 L.Ed.2d 606 (1996). Accordingly, Hill's Motion for Appointment of Counsel will be denied.

DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO STRIKE

The Court has reviewed the motion to strike filed by IDOC Defendants, and joined by Defendant Corizon, directed at Hill's affidavit and various other submissions filed in opposition to Defendants' summary judgment motions. (Dkt. 44.) In addition to the untimeliness of Hill's submissions, the Court finds the remaining contested portions of the affidavit and other documents are not relevant to resolving the motions for summary judgment. While the contested statements are speculative and based upon hearsay, and the documents lack the requisite foundation, the Court has determined it need not consider the contested portions of the Affidavit of David Beckett or the Affidavit of Tyler Hill, as well as Exhibits A, B, D, H, and K attached thereto. The motion to strike will be denied as moot.

DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR ...


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