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Sapp v. ADA County Medical Department

United States District Court, D. Idaho

July 27, 2018

MICHAEL ANGELO SAPP, Plaintiff,
v.
ADA COUNTY MEDICAL DEPARTMENT and DR. STUART CLIVE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

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

         INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court are the following motions: (1) Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 29); (2) Plaintiff's Motion to Demand Trial (Dkt. 34); and (3) Plaintiff's Motion to Appoint Counsel (Dkt. 33). Also pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Seal (Dkt. 30). Having reviewed the filings, the Court finds the matter appropriate for resolution without a hearing. For the reasons described below, the Court will grant Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint with prejudice. The Court will also deny Plaintiff's Motions for Trial and to Appoint Counsel. Finally, the Court will grant Defendant's Motion to Seal.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a prisoner in federal custody at the United States Penitentiary in Victorville, California, who is proceeding pro se in this civil rights action. On December 20, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Complaint pursuant to 42, U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants Ada County Medical and Dr. Stuart Clive (Defendant) violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment. Compl. at 2, Dkt. 3. Plaintiff alleged inter alia that defendants prescribed him an incorrect medication dosage, failed to properly diagnose him, and failed to address his medical needs. Id.

         On April 18, 2016, the U.S. Magistrate Judge for the District of Idaho ordered Plaintiff to file an amended complaint. Initial Review Order at 2, Dkt. 7. On July 22, 2016, Plaintiff filed a motion for relief in order to file an amended complaint, a motion for appointment of counsel, and a proposed amended complaint. Motion for Relief, Dkt. 13. On March 27, 2017, the Magistrate granted his motion to file an amended complaint and denied his motion for appointment of counsel without prejudice, on the grounds that his request for counsel was premature. Order Requiring Am. Compl. at 4, Dkt. 15. Plaintiff was ordered to file a second amended complaint. Id.

         On April 10, 2017, Plaintiff filed his second amended complaint, alleging that defendants: (1) prescribed him thyroid medication without performing a TSH test required to determine an appropriate dosage, causing him to experience severe medical side effects as a result; and (2) failed to treat his diagnosed sleep apnea and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), causing numerous health problems and physical and mental anguish. Am. Compl. at 1-4, Dkt. 16. After reviewing the second amended complaint, the Magistrate found that Plaintiff failed to state a claim against Ada County, but allowed him to proceed against Dr. Clive. Successive Review Order at 1, Dkt. 17. On November 16, 2017, the Magistrate reassigned the case to this Court. Order of Reassignment, Dkt. 24; See Williams v. King, 875 F.3d 500, 503 (9th Cir. 2017).

         On April 6, 2018, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. Mot. Summ. J., Dkt. 29. The Court provided notice to Plaintiff of his rights and obligations regarding the Defendant's motion for summary judgment on April 10, 2018. See Notice to Pro Se Litigants, Dkt. 32. In response to Defendant's Motion, Plaintiff filed a single document containing his motion demanding a jury trial and his response to Defendant's motion pursuant to Rules 12 and 56. See Mot. Demand Jury Trial, Dkt. 34; Pl.'s Resp., Dkt. 35. Plaintiff also filed a renewed motion for the appointment of counsel. Mot. Appoint Counsel, Dkt. 33. Defendant did not file any Reply brief.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         1. Summary Judgment

         Summary 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.

         The 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).

         “A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by citing to particular parts of materials in the record . . .; or showing that materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). Where a party fails to rebut another party's assertion of fact, the court may “consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion” and may “grant summary judgment if the motion and supporting materials - including the facts considered undisputed - show that the movant is entitled to it.” Id. 56(e).

         2. Qualified Immunity

         The doctrine of qualified immunity “protects government officials from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009) (citations and quotations omitted). Qualified immunity gives government officials “breathing room to make reasonable but mistaken judgments about open legal questions. When properly applied, it protects all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.” Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, 563 U.S. 731, 743 (2011) (citations and quotations omitted).

         To determine whether an officer is entitled to qualified immunity, the Court must ask whether the facts alleged, taken in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, show “(1) ... the [official's] conduct violated a constitutional right, and (2) the right at issue was clearly established at the time of the incident such that a reasonable [official] would have understood [his or] her conduct to be unlawful in that situation.” Torres v. City of Madera, 648 F.3d 1119, 1123 (9th Cir. ...


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