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Williams v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

May 20, 2019

Sammy T. Williams, Plaintiff,
Charles L. Ryan, et al., Defendants.


          David G. Campbell Senior United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Sammy T. Williams, who is currently confined in Arizona State Prison Complex (ASPC)-Lewis, brought this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1.) The Parties cross-move for summary judgment.[1] (Docs. 32, 36.)

         I. Background

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff relevantly alleged as follows. Plaintiff is a chronic care inmate with multiple sclerosis (MS), is in a wheelchair, wears a metal leg brace for stability, and is in constant pain.

         In Count One, Plaintiff alleges that he took Gabapentin, but when his prescription expired, Defendants Elijah and Ndemanu refused to renew it and requested that he pick an alternative antidepressant, but none of those medications would have been equal to Gabapentin in controlling Plaintiff's neuropathy. . . . .

         In Count Two, Plaintiff alleges that he had a serious fall in which he injured his hip and exacerbated his prior spine injuries, but Defendants Elijah and Ndemanu refused to discuss Plaintiff's pain or treatment with him, and have refused to give him the results of x-rays of his cervical and lumbar areas.

         In Count Three, Plaintiff alleges that after his fall, he requested an MRI, but Corizon will only provide an x-ray from a machine that does not work properly, that Elijah and Ndemanu refused to order an MRI for Plaintiff's hip, that Defendant Ende took Plaintiff off the doctor's line and refused to discuss medical issues or pain-related issues with Plaintiff, and that Defendant Corizon refuses to authorize follow-up care ordered by a doctor outside the prison regarding Plaintiff's MS protocol.

         In Count Four, Plaintiff alleges that he needs a back brace to stabilize his spinal column, but Defendant Ende refused to discuss the issue with Plaintiff, and Corizon refuses to provide proper care because it wants to increase its profit margin.

         On screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the Court determined that Plaintiff stated Eighth Amendment claims based on constitutionally deficient medical care against Corizon in Counts One through Four, against Defendants Elijah and Ndemanu in Counts One through Three, and against Defendant Ende in Counts Two through Four. (Doc. 8 at 7.) The Court dismissed the remaining claims and Defendants. (Id. at 7-9.)

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         A court must grant summary judgment “if the movant shows that 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); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The movant bears the initial responsibility of presenting the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record, together with affidavits, if any, that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.

         If the movant fails to carry its initial burden of production, the nonmovant need not produce anything. Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co., Ltd. v. Fritz Co., Inc., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102-03 (9th Cir. 2000). But if the movant meets its initial responsibility, the burden shifts to the nonmovant to demonstrate the existence of a factual dispute and that the fact in contention is material (a fact that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law), and that the dispute is genuine (the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmovant). Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 250 (1986); see Triton Energy Corp. v. Square D. Co., 68 F.3d 1216, 1221 (9th Cir. 1995). The nonmovant need not establish a material issue of fact conclusively in its favor, First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 288-89 (1968), but must “come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial, ” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (internal citation omitted). At summary judgment, the judge's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. The court must believe the nonmovant's evidence and draw all inferences in the nonmovant's favor. Id. at 255.

         III. Facts

         Plaintiff is an inmate in the custody of the Arizona Department of Corrections. Defendant Corizon provides healthcare to the inmates. Defendant Ndemanu, Elijah, and Ende were employees of Defendant Corizon at all times relevant to the allegations in this action.

         Plaintiff was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2005. (Doc. 37 ¶ 1; Doc. 56 at 5 ¶ 1.) While there is no cure for MS, it is manageable through physical therapy and appropriate medications that slow disease progression. (Doc. 37 ¶ 2; Doc. 56 at 5 ¶ 2.) Prior to their first encounter, Dr. Itoro Elijah reviewed a Health Needs Request in which Plaintiff requested renewal of various special needs orders (SNO). (Doc. 37 ¶ 3.) On August 9, 2016, Elijah authorized SNOs for Plaintiff, including an ankle/foot orthotic, cane, orthotic shoes, sunglasses, a shower chair, a left knee brace, wheelchair gloves, an extra pillow, an extra blanket, a wheelchair cushion, a lower bunk assignment, no stairs, an ADA shower, an ADA porter, and meals in his living quarters. (Doc. 37 ¶ 4; Doc. 56 at 6 ¶ 4.) Elijah also reviewed Plaintiff's recent neurology records in which the specialist recommended a repeat ...

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