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Carr v. Carlyn

United States District Court, D. Idaho

March 28, 2019

JODY CARR Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN CARLYN, SGT. HIGGINS, D.W. YORDY, D.W. COBURN, WARDEN RANDY BLADES, DR. BABICH, DR. WHINNERY, TINAWILLIAMS, SHELLY MALLET, CORIZON MEDICAL, IDOC, WARDEN RAMIREZ, BRENT REINKE, BRETT PHILLIPS, LT. AIELLOS, LT. WOODLAND, SGT.MECHTEL, SGT. LEGG, SGT.NEICKO, SGT. CARTER, SGT. LINK, SGT. SCHERER, C/O MADDOX, C/OKENNEDY, C/O CERVANTES, C/OFIGUEROA, C/O WHITAKER, A.PITZER and PA. VALLEY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

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

         INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court are Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 101), Defendant Sergeant Timothy Higgms' Cross Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 102), Plaintiffs Motion to Compel (Dkt. 108), Plaintiffs Motion to Appoint Counsel (Dkt. 109) and Plaintiffs Motions for Subpoenas (Dkts. 113, 114). Having reviewed the record and briefs, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented and oral argument is unnecessary. See Loc. Civ. R. 7.1(d)(2)(h).

         BACKGROUND

         On March 31, 2014, Plaintiff Jody Carr, an inmate in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction ("IDOC"), filed a Civil Rights Complaint (Dkt. 1) against various entities and employees of the IDOC and Corizon. After reviewing Plaintiffs original Complaint, Magistrate Judge Ronald E. Bush issued an Initial Review Order (Dkt. 13) on October 15, 2014 instructing Plaintiff to file an amended complaint, which Plaintiff did on February 6, 2015 (Dkt. 20). Plaintiffs Amended Complaint included a litany of allegations against numerous individuals and entities. Upon reviewing Plaintiffs Amended Complaint under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) & 1915A, the Court determined that Plaintiff could proceed on a number of claims including the following: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference medical care claim against Corizon employees Rory York, Dr. Whinnery, Tina Williams and Shelly Mallet; Eighth Amendment interference with medical care claim against former IDOC employee Tim Higgms; Eighth Amendment failure to protect claims against Sergeant Link, Sergeant Carter, and Lieutenant Aiello; First Amendment mail interference claims against Officer Maddox and Lieutenant Woodland; and a First Amendment free speech claim against former IDOC employee Edward Mechtel. See Dkt. 27 at 27-28. The parties filed cross motions for summary judgment, and on March 17, 2017 the Court granted summary judgment in favor of all Defendants, and entered judgment accordingly (Dkt. 86).

         Because the Court dismissed the Eighth Amendment interference with medical care claim against Defendant Higgms on the basis that Plaintiff had failed to exhaust administrative remedies, it did not reach the merits of Defendant's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff filed a Notice of Appeal from the March 17, 2017 Judgment on April 3, 2017 (Dkt. 87). On October 26, 2017, the Ninth Circuit found that the District Court had properly granted summary judgment on Plaintiffs failure to exhaust administrative remedies for all Defendants except for Higgins and Mechtel. See Dkt. 92 at 3. Specifically, with regards to those Defendants, the Ninth Circuit found Plaintiff had provided evidence that prison staff "prevented him from exhausting his claim against Higgins by refusing to collect his concern forms." Id. As such, the March 17, 2017 Judgment was reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings against Defendants Higgins and Mechtel. Id. The Court then granted Plaintiffs Motion to Dismiss Defendant Mechtel (Dkt. 93) because Plaintiff was pursuing his claims against Mechtel in another matter: Carr v. Higgins, et al., No. 1:13-cv-00380-REB. See Dkt. 97. Thus all that remains in this case is the Eighth Amendment interference with medical care claim against Defendant Higgins. See Dkt. 92 at 3.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is proper "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Court's role at summary judgment is not "to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Zetwick v. Cty. of Yolo, 850 F.3d 436, 441 (9th Cir. 2017) (citation omitted). In considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court must "view[] the facts in the non-moving party's favor." Id. To defeat a motion for summary judgment, the respondent need only present evidence upon which "a reasonable juror drawing all inferences in favor of the respondent could return a verdict in [his or her] favor." Id. Accordingly, the Court must enter summary judgment if a party "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The respondent cannot simply rely on an unsworn affidavit or the pleadings to defeat a motion for summary judgment; rather, the respondent must set forth the "specific facts," supported by evidence, with "reasonable particularity" that preclude summary judgment. Far Out Prods., Inc. v. Oskar, 247 F.3d 986, 997 (9th Cir. 2001).

         A moving party who does not bear the burden of proof at trial may show that no genuine issue of material fact remains by demonstrating that "there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. Once the moving party meets the requirement of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 by either showing that no genuine issue of material fact remains or that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case, the burden shifts to the party resisting the motion who "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986). It is not enough for the non-moving party to rest on mere allegations or denials in his pleadings. Id. at 256. Genuine factual issues must exist that can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party. Id. at 250. When determining if a genuine factual issue exists, a trial judge must bear in mind the actual quantum and quality of proof necessary to support liability. Id. at 254. The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of a plaintiff s position would be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff. Id. at 252. Furthermore, Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, "after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.

         Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, to maintain an Eighth Amendment claim based on inadequate medical treatment, an inmate must show "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104, (1976). In the Ninth Circuit, the test for deliberate indifference consists of two parts. McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050 (9th Cir.1991), overruled on other grounds by WMX Techs., Inc. v. Miller, 104 F.3d 1133 (9th Cir. 1997) (en banc). First, the plaintiff must show a "serious medical need" by demonstrating that "failure to treat a prisoner's condition could result in further significant injury or the 'unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.'" Id. at 1059. Second, the plaintiff must show the defendant's response to the need was deliberately indifferent. Id. at 1060. This second prong-deliberate indifference-is satisfied by showing (a) a purposeful act or failure to respond to a prisoner's pain or possible medical need and (b) harm caused by the indifference. Id. Indifference "may appear when prison officials deny, delay or intentionally interfere with medical treatment, or it may be shown by the way in which prison physicians provide medical care." Id. at 1059. Yet, an "inadvertent [or negligent] failure to provide adequate medical care" alone does not state a claim under § 1983. Id. A prisoner need not show his harm was substantial, but serious harm would provide additional support for the inmate's claim that the defendant was deliberately indifferent to his needs. Id. at 1060. If the harm is an "isolated exception" to the defendant's "overall treatment of the prisoner [it] ordinarily militates against a finding of deliberate indifference." Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006).

         ANALYSIS

         1. Plaintiffs Eighth Amendment Claim is the Only Claim Before the Court

         At the outset of this litigation, in its Initial Review Order, the Court limited Plaintiffs case against Sergeant Higgms to his claim for interference with medical care under the Eighth Amendment. Dkt. 13. Plaintiff, in his Motion for Summary Judgment, for the first time requests Ms court grant relief against Sergeant Higgms based on the conditions of his confinement, and Defendant Higgms' "retaliation." Dkt. 101-1 at 1. Specifically, Plaintiff points to Defendant's failure to house him in the conditions of confinement as ordered in the "Balla Injunction," resulting in inadequate medical care for "potentially fatal disease Clostridium Difficile (C-Diff)." Id; see also Dkt. 101-2 at 5. Mr. Carr's Motion for Summary Judgment also includes a claim that Defendant was retaliating against him "to hinder, thwart and dissuade the Plaintiff from exercising his First Amendment rights." Id. at 4. Whether Sergeant Higgms was responsible for those conditions, whether those conditions violated Mr. Carr's constitutional rights, and whether Sergeant Higgms retaliated against Mr. Carr in violation of the First Amendment is not at issue in this case. The Court will restrict itself to Plaintiffs claim in the Amended Complaint that Sergeant Higgms was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need based upon Sergeant Higgms' interference with medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

         2. Mr. Carr Fails to Adduce Evidence on Which a Reasonable Juror ...


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