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Hoak v. Siegert

United States District Court, D. Idaho

July 27, 2017

LARRY M. HOAK, Plaintiff,
v.
RONA SIEGERT, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          B. Lynn Winmill Chief Judge

         Plaintiff, 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. Now pending before the Court in this civil rights matter is Defendant Siegert's Motion for Summary Judgment.

         Having fully reviewed the record, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and record and that oral argument is unnecessary. See D. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 7.1. Accordingly, the Court enters the following Order granting Defendant's Motion and dismissing this case with prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         1. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff filed the instant civil rights action against numerous Defendants-both prison officials and prison medical providers-asserting Eighth Amendment medical treatment claims with respect to his medical care for several conditions. The Court granted Plaintiff in forma pauperis status. In the Court's Initial Review Order, Plaintiff was allowed to proceed only on his claim that Defendant Siegert violated the Eighth Amendment with respect to the treatment Plaintiff has received for his diabetes. (Dkt. 11 at 21.) On October 24, 2013 (mailbox rule), Plaintiff filed an amended complaint, which added some claims. (Dkt. 20.)

         The Court then determined that Plaintiff had at least three previous actions dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, and the Court revoked Plaintiff's in forma pauperis status pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). (Dkt. 25.) After Plaintiff failed to pay the filing fee, the Court dismissed this action. (Dkt. 27.)

         The Ninth Circuit vacated and remanded, determining that Plaintiff had sufficiently demonstrated that he was in “imminent danger of serious physical injury” for purposes of the exception to the three-strikes provision in § 1915(g). (Dkt. 38.) This Court reopened the case and granted Plaintiff in forma pauperis status. (Dkt. 41, 42.) Defendant Siegert filed a motion to dismiss, which the Court granted in part and denied in part. (Dkt. 52.) The Court concluded that the Amended Complaint stated a plausible Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Siegert with respect to Plaintiff's medical treatment for his diabetes. (Id.)

         Defendant Siegert has moved for summary judgment. (Dkt. 63.) The Court has denied Plaintiff's motion to stay, which the Court construed as a Rule 56(d) motion, because it did not “establish any specific reason why Plaintiff cannot properly prepare his opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.” (Dkt. 66 at 2.) Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is now ripe for consideration by the Court.

         2.Undisputed Facts

         This section includes facts that are undisputed and material to the resolution of the issues in this case. Because Plaintiff has not disputed most of Defendant's Statement of Undisputed Facts (“SOUF” or “Statement”), the following factual recitation is taken primarily from that Statement and the documents supporting it. (See Dkt. 63-2.) The Court will note the areas where Plaintiff disputes the Statement and will accept Plaintiff's version of the facts as to those disputes for purposes of this decision.

         Plaintiff is incarcerated at the Idaho State Correctional Institution. The IDOC contracts with a private company that provides medical treatment to Idaho state prisoners. Defendant Siegert is the Health Services Director for the IDOC; her job is “to oversee the medical contractor's provision of medical services to IDOC facilities.” (Id. ¶ 3.)

         Although Siegert is a registered nurse, she “does not provide patient care in her role as the Health Services Director.” (Id.) Instead,

Siegert audits inmate medical files; monitors the contract medical provider, the contract with the contract medical provider, the NCCHC [National Commission on Correctional Health Care] standards, and IDOC policy and procedures; and investigates medical-related issues or complaints she receives, discovers, and/or are brought to her attention, including through concern forms and grievances. Siegert is the appellate authority for offender grievances concerning health care.
Siegert supervises nurse managers and a contract monitor who assist in the oversight of medical services provided to inmates.

(Id. ¶¶ 4-5.) Joseph Cardona is one of the nurse managers whom Defendant Siegert supervises. He is also a registered nurse. (Cordona Aff., Dkt. 63-4, ¶¶ 3-4.)

         Plaintiff's diabetes renders Plaintiff “a chronic care patient.” (SOUF ¶ 8.) As such, he “is scheduled to [see] a provider for his diabetes at regular intervals, but at a minimum of every ninety (90) days.” (Id.) Despite this ongoing treatment, Plaintiff's “blood sugar levels have remained high and his weight has steadily increased.” (Id.) Plaintiff's organs and his eyes remain relatively healthy and are not failing. According to Mr. Cardona, Plaintiff “has not maintained compliance with [his] diet, medication, and exercise recommendations.” (Id., citing Cardona Aff. ¶ 7.) Plaintiff disputes this portion of Defendant's Statement and alleges that Cardona “has no clue” and “has no idea about [Plaintiff's] situation.” (Dkt. 67 at 2.) Therefore, the Court will assume that Plaintiff generally has been compliant with the recommendations of his medical providers with respect to his diabetes treatment.

         Defendant Siegert's role in Plaintiff's diabetes treatment was limited to the grievance process. Between November 2010 and September 2015, Siegert received or responded to five concern forms, and acted as the appellate review authority on four grievances related to Plaintiff's diabetes treatment. (SOUF ¶¶ 6-7; First Siegert Aff., Dkt. 14-2, ¶¶ 10-11; Second Siegert Aff., Dkt. 63-3, ¶ 7.)

         On January 4, 2012, Plaintiff submitted a grievance complaining that “Medical does not care about the seriousness of [his] health.” (First Siegert Aff. ¶ 10(a) and Ex. A at 1-2.) Plaintiff complained that, on December 31, 2011, he received insulin from a staff member who did not first consult a doctor; Plaintiff also appeared to have concerns about the type or amount of insulin given to him on that occasion and “felt like [he] was going into a coma.” (Id.) Defendant Siegert reviewed Plaintiff's medical file and “determined that on December 29, 30, and 31, the appropriate amount of insulin was provided to [Plaintiff] based upon his blood sugar levels and the medical provider's insulin order.” (Id. ¶ 10(a).) In her response to Plaintiff's grievance, Siegert stated,

[T]he correct amount of insulin, per the provider ordered sliding scale, is being administered. Again, according to the sliding scale a provider is to be notified if the blood sugar is greater than 500. On December 29, 30 and 31 none of your blood sugars were greater than 500, therefore, ...

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