United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Lynn Winmill, United States District Court Chief Judge.
Court has before it a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by
the Defendants (Dkt. 37). Having reviewed the record in this
case and having considered the arguments of the parties, the
Court finds that oral argument is not needed. For the reasons
below, the Court will grant the Motion.
Zachariah Vitale was a prisoner in the custody of Idaho
Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) at the Idaho
State Correctional Institution (“ISCI”). Vitale
Aff. ¶ 2 (Dkt. 3-1). Vitale was transferred to the ISCI
on April 22, 2010. Valley Aff. ¶ 4 (Dkt. 37-7). Upon
intake, Vitale reported that he suffers from back pain and
seizures, although he had not had a seizure in eight years
without treatment. Id. Vitale's back pain caused
him to seek medical treatment numerous times between July
2010 and July 2012. Statement of Undisputed Facts (Dkt.
37-1). Vitale was treated on each occasion that he sought
medical treatment. Id. Over the course of two years,
Vitale was prescribed a number of muscle relaxants and pain
medications to treat the back pain. Id. Vitale was
also provided physical therapy, stretching regimens, x-rays,
ice memos, and a chair to assist in stretching and getting
down from the top bunk bed. Id.
March 17, 2012, emergency responders were called to
Vitale's unit. Id. ¶ 19. According to
Defendants, Vitale reported that he lost his balance while
getting off of his top bunk and hit his head on the dresser.
Id. Defendants note that he had a laceration above
his right eyebrow that was treated on site with three bandage
strips. Id. Vitale claims that the fall was caused
by sciatic nerve pain and blurred vision. Am. Compl. ¶
17 (Dkt. 9). Vitale submitted an HSR on March 19, 2012
alleging head trauma after his fall. Statement of Undisputed
Facts ¶ 20 (Dkt. 37-1). Vitale was sent to a hospital
for a head CT and a follow-up MRI two weeks later.
Id. Neither test showed any recent head trauma.
Vitale claims that Corizon and its medical staff did not
assist Vitale in securing a bottom bunk memo and a medical
mattress or “any other form of relief for his constant
pain and suffering.” Am. Compl. ¶ 10. Vitale
alleges that Defendants Song, Valley, Lossman, and Mitchell
were informed of Vitale's back pain and that the
Defendants “did nothing.” Id. ¶ 13.
Vitale also claims that Corizon should have allowed Vitale to
enroll in a “Chronic Care Program.” Id.
¶ 21. Vitale brings all claims under the Eighth
Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment. See
generally Complaint (Dkt. 3).
to Defendants, bottom bunk memorandums are issued in specific
cases including where an offender is reliant on crutches, has
hands or feet amputated, or suffered a bone fracture. Song
Aff. ¶ 10 (Dkt. 37-5). Defendants also consider whether
an offender is 70 years or older, an offender's weight,
and whether an offender has had any joint replacements.
Id. Defendants submitted extensive notes and records
documenting their treatment of Vitale for the years in
question. Valley Aff., Ex. A (Dkt. 37-8).
judgment is appropriate where a party can show that, as to
any claim or defense, “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). 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.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). There must be a
genuine dispute as to any material fact - a fact
“that may affect the outcome of the case.”
Id. at 248.
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). In addition, the Court must be “guided by the
substantive evidentiary standards that apply to the
case.” Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 255.
moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the
absence of a genuine dispute as to 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).
shifts the burden to the non-moving party to produce evidence
sufficient to support a jury verdict in her favor.
Deveraux, 263 F.3d at 1076. 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
dispute of material fact exists. Celotex, 477 U.S.
the Court is “not required to comb through the record
to find some reason to deny a motion for summary
judgment.” Carmen v. San Francisco Unified Sch.
Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1029 (9th Cir. 2001) (quotation
omitted). Instead, the “party opposing summary judgment
must direct [the Court's] attention to specific triable
facts.” Southern California Gas Co. v. City of
Santa Ana, 336 F.3d 885, 889 (9th Cir. 2003).
in a brief, unsupported by the record, cannot be used to
create a factual dispute. Barnes v. Independent Auto.
Dealers, 64 F.3d 1389, 1396 n.3 (9th Cir. 1995). The
Circuit has “repeatedly held that documents which have
not had a proper foundation laid to authenticate them cannot
support a motion for summary judgment.” Beyene v.
Coleman Sec. Services, Inc., 854 F.2d 1179, 1182 (9th
Cir. 1988). Authentication, required by Federal Rule of
Evidence 901(a), is not satisfied simply by attaching a
document to an affidavit. Id. The affidavit must
contain testimony of a witness with personal knowledge of the
facts who attests to the identity and due execution of the
1983 allows a plaintiff to bring a claim under the Eighth
Amendment for unconstitutional prison medical treatment. To
prevail on an Eighth Amendment claim regarding prison medical
care, a 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). 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
McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059-60 (9th Cir.
1992), overruled on other grounds, WMX
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