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Vanzant v. Wilcox

United States District Court, D. Idaho

March 26, 2018

BRAD VANZANT, Plaintiff,


          B. Lynn Winmill, Chief U.S. District Court Judge


         On September 13, 2017, United States Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale issued a Report and Recommendation (“Report”) recommending summary judgment be granted in favor of defendants on Plaintiff Brad Vanzant's claims with two exceptions. The Report recommended that the Court: (1) deny Defendant Veronica Ferro's motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim; and (2) deny Defendant IDOC's motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act. See Sept. 13, 2017 Report, Dkt. 116. For the reasons explained below, the Court will accept and adopt the Report in part, and will reject the Report in part.


         Under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), this Court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings and recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” Where the parties object to a report and recommendation, this Court “shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report which objection is made.” Id. Where no objections are filed the district court need not conduct a de novo review. Rather, “the Court need only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.” Advisory Committee Notes to Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 (citing Campbell v. United States Dist. Court, 501 F.2d 196, 206 (9th Cir. 1974)).


         The Court has conducted a de novo review of those portions of the Report objected to by the parties. Otherwise, the Court conducted a review of the entire Report, as well as the record in this matter, for clear error.


         The factual and procedural background of this case are correctly stated in the Report, and the Court adopts the same. The Court restates a portion of relevant facts here only as necessary to help explain its decision.

         Vanzant is incarcerated at the Idaho State Correctional Institution (ISCI). He filed this action in March 2015, alleging that defendants violated his constitutional rights and his rights under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et. seq. by denying him a wheelchair, accessible housing, and adequate pain medication.

         Plaintiff arrived at ISCI on December 24, 2014 in a wheelchair-assessible van, in a wheelchair. Before that, he had been housed at Ada County Jail. During his jail stay, Vanzant had a wheelchair.

         Vanzant's first stop at ISCI was Unit 7, which is where newly arriving offenders are placed for initial intake. The parties dispute how Vanzant made his way into Unit 7. Vanzant says he was wheeled into Unit 7 in a wheelchair and that he never walked at all. See Vanzant Dep., Dkt. 106-13, at 32:2-6. IDOC Officer William Kilby, on the other hand, who was there to meet the Ada County transport van, reports that Vanzant walked into the unit. Kilby Dec., ¶¶ 3-4, Dkt. 70-7. On summary judgment, the Court accepts Vanzant's version of the facts.

         After Vanzant finished in Unit 7, the next stop was Unit 15 for “completion of the Receiving and Diagnostic Unit (RDU) process, ” which takes roughly 1.5 to 3 hours. Craig Dec., Dkt. 70-6, ¶ 3. The RDU process includes orientation to prison rules and regulations, gathering of medical history, and an initial medical, mental health, and physical examination. Id. ¶ 4. Under RDU policy, “[w]hen a patient arrives from a facility, such as Ada [County Jail] with a wheelchair or a prescription for a certain medication . . . th[e] course of care will be continued for a period of seven days, during which time the patient will be evaluated by a prescribing provider, such as a physician or nurse practitioner, to assess the further course of treatment.” Ferro Dec., Dkt. 73-6, ¶ 8. Also under RDU policy, the evaluating health care professional can offer a wheelchair accommodation, if he or she determines the patient has a medical need for one for a maximum period of five days pending review and approval by a prescribing physician. Id.

         Vanzant was wheeled from Unit 7 to Unit 15, Craig Dec., Dkt. 70-6, ¶ 5, but he reports that immediately upon his arrival into Unit 15, Defendant Effie Reed-Rodriguez took the wheelchair away. Reed-Rodriguez was one of the LPNs working in Unit 15 that day; Defendant Veronica Ferro was another LPN on duty in Unit 15.

         Within Unit 15 there is a classroom (where Vanzant was delivered) and a separate “medical examination room area.” See Vanzant Dec., Dkt. 106-5, ¶ 62. After the classroom session was completed, Vanzant reports that Ferro and Reed-Rodriguez ordered him to walk from the classroom to the medical exam room area, which was about 25 feet away. Id. Vanzant said he could not walk; he was then offered a walker or crutches, which he refused. See Vanzant Dep., Dkt. 106-13, at 42:18 to 43:7.

         Ferro explains that she understood Vanzant could walk because an IDOC employee had informed her that Vanzant had walked into Unit 7 that day and, further, the Ada County Jail Health Services Administrator had told her that Vanzant was faking it and did not really need a wheelchair. See Ferro Dec., Dkt. 73-6, ¶ 6. Ferro also reports that she provided nursing care to Vanzant roughly one year earlier and he had been able to ambulate without a wheelchair at that time. Based on all this information, Ferro said she understood Vanzant could ambulate without a wheelchair. Id. ¶ 10.

         In any event, after Vanzant did not walk to the medical screening area, he was sent to segregated housing (Cell 78) for refusing to follow an order. Vanzant was transported to Cell 78 in a wheelchair, but he was not otherwise provided a wheelchair from December 24 to December 31, 2014. See Id. ¶ 9; Vanzant Dec., Dkt. 106-5, ¶¶ 64-66.

         The next day, December 25, Nurse Cassidy Barny visited Vanzant to determine if a wheelchair was necessary. Vanzant testified as follows regarding that visit:

Q: So I'm going to ask you one more time: It's accurate that Ms. Barny had come to see you on December 25th -
A: Right.
Q: 2014, to determine whether or not a wheelchair was necessary; is that correct?
A: Right.
Q: And the assessment did not occur because you wanted to see a doctor; is that correct?
A: Exactly.
Q: And then you submitted another HSR on December ...

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