United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Lynn Winmill Chief Judge United States District Court
the Court in this prisoner civil rights case are motions for
summary judgment filed by Defendants William Poulson, Eugene
Clark, and Rona Siegert. See Dkts. 82, 83. Plaintiff
James Ritter has also filed various motions, including four
discovery motions and a motion for an extension of time to
effect service on Defendant Debbie Richardson. See
Dkts. 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 77. For the reasons explained
below, the Court will grant defendants' motions for
summary judgment and deny all other pending motions.
James Ritter is a prisoner in the custody of the Idaho
Department of Corrections (“IDOC”). He alleges
that the defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by
refusing to provide adequate pain medication.
Facts Relevant to Ritter's Claim Against Clark
entered IDOC custody on September 23, 2011. He was suffering
from several serious medical conditions at the time,
including a lower back injury, acute pancreatitis, a torn
gallbladder, and a herniated cervical disk. See Am.
Compl., Dkt 9, ¶¶ 1, 2, 14, at pp. 5-6.
says that as soon as he entered IDOC custody, prison medical
care providers reduced his pain medication. On September 26,
2011, Ritter decided to save two pills and take them later.
He was caught and placed in administrative segregation as
punishment. Id. ¶¶ 5-6, at p. 5; Dkt. 83-3
(IDOC disciplinary report). According to Ritter, Defendant
Lieutenant Clark handcuffed him, took him to administrative
segregation, and ordered prison medical staff to discontinue
his medication. Clark disputes this fact; he says he has no
authority to issue medical orders, and that he did not do so
in this case.
says he remained in segregation until October 18, 2011,
without a single medication for pain and that he suffered
excruciatingly as a result. Id. ¶¶ 3, 8,
10, 11, at pp. 5-6.
are the only facts relevant to Defendant Clark's alleged
wrongdoing. Otherwise, plaintiff primarily complains that
Defendant William Poulson and others failed or refused to
provide adequate pain medication.
Facts Relevant to Ritter's Claim Against Defendant
is a nurse. He began working for IDOC in July 2012. Between
July 2012 and November 2013, Poulson saw Ritter ten times. In
2012, Ritter had appointments with Poulson on September 10,
12, and 13, October 11, 22, and 29, November 5, and December
18. In 2013, Ritter had appointments with Poulson on February
7 and November 7. See Poulson Aff., Dkt. 82-3,
¶¶ 20-22, 25, 27, 30, 31, 34, 37, 41. Ritter saw
numerous other providers during this time as well, and he
also underwent various tests, including bloodwork, an x-ray,
and an MRI. Id. ¶ 20, 25, 29, 36. Likewise,
after Ritter filed his complaint in November 2013, he
continued to be seen by prison medical staff, including
Poulson, as well as offsite providers. See Id.
medical care providers have prescribed a wide variety of
medications to address his pain, including Ultram, Norco,
Tegretol, Apap, Meloxicam, Tramadol, ibuprofen, Depakene,
Neurontin, and Elavil. Plaintiff was also provided with
physical therapy to help with pain management.
occasions, Poulson declined to prescribe the specific pain
medications Ritter was requesting, and instead prescribed
alternative medications. For example, in December 2012,
Ritter saw Dr. Shane Andrew, who had performed surgery on
Ritter's back in the summer of 2011. Dr. Andrew planned
an MRI for Ritter, and, in the meantime, recommended Tramadol
and ibuprofen for pain. See Poulson Aff. ¶ 33;
disagreed with Dr. Andrew's recommendation and instead
prescribed an alternative medication (Depakene) to treat
Ritter's pain. See Poulson Aff. ¶ 34. A few
days later, another provider at the prison prescribed
Tramadol, and Ritter apparently received that medication
until February 2013. Id. ¶ 35. In February
2013, Ritter saw Dr. Andrew again to discuss the results of
his MRI. After this visit, Dr. Andrew recommended that Ritter
stop taking Tramadol and switch to NSAIDs. He also
recommended physical therapy. Id. ¶ 38.
time, on October 11, 2012, Poulson prescribed Tegretol to
treat Ritter's nerve pain. Poulson Aff. ¶
25. During this visit, Poulson recorded his impression that
Ritter met the DSM-IV criteria for “probable
malingering.” See MR 37. Poulson also stated
that Ritter “seemed to imply that he would try anything
I prescribed for his pain and intentionally fail or claim
adverse psychological effects until I prescribed him
narcotics . . . . I suspected gaming with this patient
because he should be amenable to neuropathic pain treatment
options which he had failed in a serial fashion so
says that during this visit he told Poulson that he could not
take Tegretol because it made him suicidal. Ritter's
medical records available to Poulson at that time did not
document that side effect, however. Rather, Ritter orally
reported that he had taken this medication several years
earlier. In any event, Ritter later reported that he was not
taking Tegretol for pain and Poulson discontinued the
prescription. Poulson Aff., Dkt 82-8, ¶ 27.
Court will first resolve Ritter's pending motions, and
then turn to defendants' motions for summary judgment.
has filed four motions to compel further responses to
discovery requests. See Motions to Compel, Dkts.
68-71. The Court will deny these motions.
each party is entitled to discover nonprivileged information
“relevant to any party's claim or defense” so
long as it is proportional to the needs of the case in light
of the following factors: (1) the importance of the issues at
stake in the action; (2) the amount in controversy; (3) the
parties' relative access to relevant information; (4) the
parties' resources; (5) the importance of discovery in
resolving the issues; and (6) whether the burden or expense
of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefits.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Nevertheless, courts retain broad
power to limit the frequency and extent of discovery.
Id. (“Unless otherwise limited by court
order, the scope of discovery is as follows: . . .
.”) (emphasis added). Indeed, a court can - and must -
limit discovery if it determines that the discovery is not
proportional to the needs of the case. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(C)(iii).
seeks an order compelling Poulson to provide additional
responses to six interrogatories (Nos. 1, 2, 4, 14, 16, and
19) and eight document requests (Nos. 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14,
15, and 17). See Motions to Compel, Dkts. 68, 70. He
seeks an order compelling Defendants Siegert and Clark to
further respond to ten interrogatories (Nos. 1-4, and 13-18)
and six document requests (Nos. 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, and 18).
See Dkts. 68-71 (motions) and Dkts. 73-76 (response
Court has reviewed each disputed request along with its
corresponding response and has determined that no further
responses are necessary. The Court will not discuss each
request here, though it will briefly discuss a few requests
that highlight the nature of the problems.
many of the disputed discovery requests seek irrelevant
information. For example, Ritter asks Defendant Poulson to
list all complaints filed against him by any person. See
Interrog. No. 2, Dkt. 73, at 4-5 (asking Poulson, among
other things, to “list all complaints filed against the
Defendant, all investigation reports all write ups.”).
Ritter also asked Poulson to identify any complaints filed
against any medical staff member who worked at the prison,
regardless of whether that staff member cared for Ritter.
Interrogatory No. 14 to Poulson, Dkt. 73, at 6-7.
Similarly, Ritter asked Defendants Siegert and Clark to
identify “any documents related to any complaint,
grievance, censure reprimand, or rebuke directed