Brown v. Naseer

Filing 65

MEMORANDUM and ORDER signed by Senior Judge William B. Shubb on 10/11/2016 GRANTING Naseer's 47 Motion for Summary Judgment. CASE CLOSED. (Zignago, K.)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 8 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 9 ----oo0oo---- 10 11 DEXTER BROWN, Plaintiff, 12 13 14 15 v. CIV. NO. 2:14-0225 WBS CKD P MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT SAHIR NASEER, et al., Defendants. 16 17 ----oo0oo---- 18 19 Plaintiff Dexter Brown (“Brown”), a prisoner proceeding 20 pro se, brought this action for violation of his civil rights 21 under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 primarily alleging violations of his 22 Eighth Amendment rights. 23 Naseer’s (“Naseer”) motion for summary judgment (Docket No. 47). 24 The matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge 25 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302. 26 Before the court is Defendant Sahir On July 7, 2016, the magistrate judge filed findings 27 and recommendations (Docket No. 64) in which she recommended that 28 the action be dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative 1 1 remedies. 2 merits of Brown’s claim, the court expresses no opinion as to 3 whether Brown properly exhausted his administrative remedies. 4 The court also does not address whether Naseer is entitled to 5 qualified immunity. 6 I. 7 As the court will resolve the motion based on the Factual Background and Procedural Background In Brown’s Third Amended Complaint, he alleges that 8 between September 29 and October 1, 2013, he suffered from chest 9 pain, muscle weakness, nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms 10 consistent with too much potassium in the blood, a condition 11 known as hyperkalemia. 12 from these symptoms, Naseer, a physician at the California Health 13 Care Facility in Stockton, wrote medical orders placing him on 14 fluid restrictions, “thereby preventing plaintiff from 15 implementing counter-measures to abate the toxicity of potassium 16 in plaintiff’s blood.” 17 Brown alleges that while he was suffering Third Am. Compl. ¶ 6. Brown also alleges that Naseer directed medical staff 18 not to run various tests or send Brown to receive emergency 19 medical services. 20 other symptoms worsened and he was sent to San Joaquin General 21 Hospital, where tests revealed he was hyperkalemic with a 22 critical potassium level. 23 On October 1, 2013, Brown’s chest pain and As a result of these actions, Brown filed a complaint 24 against Naseer and other defendants. 25 amended complaints, the magistrate judge screened the Third 26 Amended Complaint in her December 2, 2014 Findings and 27 Recommendations and found 1) it stated a claim upon which relief 28 can be granted under the Eighth Amendment against defendant 2 After Brown filed multiple 1 Naseer but 2) all other claims and defendants should be 2 dismissed. 3 February 24, 2015. 4 motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal of Brown’s Eighth 5 Amendment claim. 6 II. The court adopted the Findings and Recommendations on Defendant Naseer later filed the instant Legal Standard 7 Summary judgment is proper “if the movant shows that 8 there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the 9 movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. 10 P. 56(a). A material fact is one that could affect the outcome 11 of the suit, and a genuine issue is one that could permit a 12 reasonable jury to enter a verdict in the non-moving party's 13 favor. 14 (1986). 15 burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material 16 fact and can satisfy this burden by presenting evidence that 17 negates an essential element of the non-moving party's case. 18 Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322–23 (1986). 19 Alternatively, the moving party can demonstrate that the 20 nonmoving party cannot produce evidence to support an essential 21 element upon which it will bear the burden of proof at trial. 22 Id. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial 23 Once the moving party meets its initial burden, the 24 burden shifts to the non-moving party to “designate ‘specific 25 facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.’” 26 324 (quoting then-Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)). 27 the non-moving party must “do more than simply show that there is 28 some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” 3 Id. at To carry this burden, Matsushita 1 Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). 2 “The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence . . . will be 3 insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could 4 reasonably find for the [nonmoving party].” 5 at 252. Anderson, 477 U.S. 6 In deciding a summary judgment motion, the court must 7 view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving 8 party and draw all justifiable inferences in its favor. 9 255. Id. at “Credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, 10 and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury 11 functions, not those of a judge . . . ruling on a motion for 12 summary judgment . . . .” 13 Id. To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on 14 inadequate medical care under the Eighth Amendment, the plaintiff 15 must show that the defendant acted with deliberate indifference 16 to his serious medical needs. 17 97, 104 (1976). 18 standard,” and it requires more than a showing that prison 19 officials were negligent or even grossly negligent. 20 Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1060 (9th Cir. 2004). 21 show “(a) a purposeful act or failure to respond to a prisoner’s 22 pain or possible medical need and (b) harm caused by the 23 indifference.” 24 2006). 25 treatment “does not amount to a deliberate indifference to [the 26 prisoner’s] serious medical needs.” 27 240, 242 (9th Cir. 1989). 28 III. Discussion See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. “Deliberate indifference is a high legal Toguchi v. The plaintiff must See Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. A difference of medical opinion regarding a prisoner’s 4 Sanchez v. Vild, 891 F.2d 1 Here, Brown has not shown anything more than a 2 difference of opinion as to the proper diagnosis and treatment of 3 his condition. 4 time of his treatment and that excessive fluid intake in dialysis 5 patients can lead to fluid retention, which can cause fluid to 6 accumulate in the lungs, respiratory failure, and subsequent 7 death. 8 amounts of water in the past in order to self-medicate himself, 9 and he further concedes that Naseer placed him on fluid Brown concedes that he was on dialysis at the Brown also concedes that he had engaged in drinking large 10 restrictions to prevent him from drinking copious amounts of 11 water. 12 respiratory failure or death from this practice and that Brown 13 believed Naseer intended to harm him do not raise a genuine issue 14 of material fact as to whether Naseer was deliberately 15 indifferent.1 The facts that Brown believed he was never at risk for 16 In essence, Brown contends that he should have been 17 allowed to self-medicate with water to treat hyperkalemia and 18 that he should have been tested and treated for hyperkalemia, in 19 light of his symptoms. 20 evidence that his preferred treatment was an appropriate 21 treatment for his condition, much less that Naseer was 22 deliberately indifferent by refusing such treatment, in light of 23 the undisputed risks of such treatment for dialysis patients. 24 Nor do the facts that a subsequent blood test showed an elevated However, he provides no admissible 25 26 27 28 1 Similarly, Brown’s vague statements about individuals adding potassium to his diet and similar claims that others intended to harm him are insufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Naseer was deliberately indifferent. 5 1 potassium level, or that as Brown contends, he exhibited symptoms 2 consistent with hyperkalemia, show that Naseer was deliberately 3 indifferent by refusing to test his potassium levels or give him 4 an EKG, without any competent evidence showing, for example, how 5 other doctors would have responded to such symptoms. 6 facts in the light most favorable to Brown, the record supports 7 only a potential claim for negligence, not deliberate 8 indifference.2 9 Viewing the IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Naseer’s motion for 10 summary judgment be, and the same hereby is, GRANTED. 11 Dated: October 11, 2016 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 2 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Brown contends in his amended response to Naseer’s motion for summary judgment that Naseer did not address his arguments regarding “compulsory medical treatment.” However, while Brown’s Third Amended Complaint does mention his attempt to refuse fluid restrictions, it is unclear how any compulsory medical treatment in the form of fluid restrictions would constitute a cognizable claim aside from the denial of adequate medical care under the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. Moreover, the magistrate judge’s December 2, 2014 Findings and Recommendations, which were adopted in full by the court, found that Brown stated a claim for violation of the Eighth Amendment only, and thus only Brown’s Eighth Amendment claim is properly before the court. 6

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