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Valencia v. Corizon LLC

United States District Court, D. Arizona

May 20, 2019

Gregory Nidez Valencia, Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
Corizon, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER

          David G. Campbell Senior United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Gregory Nidez Valencia, Jr., who is currently confined in Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis, brought this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against prison healthcare provider Corizon, LLC regarding the treatment of Plaintiff's Hepatitis C. (Doc. 1.) The parties have filed cross Motions for Summary Judgment.[1] (Docs. 19, 26.) The Court will deny Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, grant Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, and terminate this action.

         I. Background

         On screening of Plaintiff's Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the Court determined that Plaintiff stated an Eighth Amendment medical care claim and directed Defendant to answer. (Doc. 6.) Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief and his costs of suit. (Doc. 1.)

         II. Legal Standards

         A. Summary Judgment

         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. In its analysis, the court must believe the nonmovant's evidence and draw all inferences in the nonmovant's favor. Id. at 255.

         B. Eighth Amendment

         To prevail on an Eighth Amendment medical claim, a prisoner must demonstrate “deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.” Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976)). There are two prongs to this analysis: an objective prong and a subjective prong. As to the objective prong, a prisoner must show a “serious medical need.” Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096 (citations omitted). A “‘serious' medical need exists if the failure to treat a prisoner's condition could result in further significant injury or the ‘unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.'” McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1992), overruled on other grounds, WMX Techs., Inc. v. Miller, 104 F.3d 1133, 1136 (9th Cir. 1997) (en banc) (internal citation omitted). Indications that a prisoner has a serious medical need include “[t]he existence of an injury that a reasonable doctor or patient would find important and worthy of comment or treatment; the presence of a medical condition that significantly affects an individual's daily activities; or the existence of chronic and substantial pain.” McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1059-60.

         As to the subjective prong, a prisoner must show that the defendant's response to that need was deliberately indifferent. Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096. An official acts with deliberate indifference if he “knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. To satisfy the knowledge component, “the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.” Id. “Prison officials are deliberately indifferent to a prisoner's serious medical needs when they deny, delay, or intentionally interfere with medical treatment, ” Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 744 (9th Cir.2002) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted), or when they fail to respond to a prisoner's pain or possible medical need. Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096. But the deliberate-indifference doctrine is limited. An inadvertent failure to provide adequate medical care or negligence in diagnosing or treating a medical condition do not support an Eighth Amendment claim. Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1122 (9th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted); see Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106 (negligence does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation). Further, a mere difference in medical opinion does not establish deliberate indifference. Jackson v. McIntosh, 90 F.3d 330, 332 (9th Cir. 1996).

         Finally, even if deliberate indifference is shown, to support an Eighth Amendment claim, the prisoner must demonstrate harm caused by the indifference. Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096; see Hunt v. Dental Dep't, 865 F.2d 198, 200 (9th Cir. 1989) (delay in providing medical treatment does not constitute Eighth Amendment violation unless delay was harmful).

         To prevail on a claim against Corizon as a private entity serving a traditional public function, Plaintiff must meet the test articulated in Monell v. Department of Social Services of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 690-94 (1978). Tsao v. Desert Palace, Inc., 698 F.3d 1128, 1139 (9th Cir. 2012) (applying Monell to private entities acting under color of state law). Plaintiff must show that an official policy or custom caused the constitutional violation. Monell, 436 U.S. at 694. To make this showing, he must demonstrate that (1) he was deprived of a constitutional right; (2) Corizon had a policy or custom; (3) the policy or custom amounted to deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's constitutional right; and (4) the policy or custom was the moving force behind the constitutional violation. Mabe v. San Bernardino Cnty., Dep't of Pub. Soc. Servs., 237 F.3d 1101, 1110-11 (9th Cir. 2001). Further, if the policy or custom in question is an unwritten one, the plaintiff must show that it is so “persistent and widespread” that it constitutes a “permanent and well settled” practice. Monell, 436 U.S. at 691 (quoting Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 167-68 (1970)). ...


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