Hopkins v. Contra Costa County et al

Filing 106


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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 KEVIN LAMAR HOPKINS, 11 Case No. 12-0813 WHO (PR) United States District Court Northern District of California Plaintiff, 12 v. 13 14 CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, et al., 15 Defendants. ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION 16 17 INTRODUCTION 18 Plaintiff Kevin Lamar Hopkins alleges that defendants, employees of Contra Costa 19 20 County (the “County”), were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs in violation of 21 the Eighth Amendment.1 Defendants moved for summary judgment. (Docket No. 74.) 22 While that motion was pending, Hopkins moved to file an amended complaint alleging 23 entirely different claims, which was denied. He then moved for reconsideration of the 24 denial. For the reasons stated, defendants’ motion for summary judgment is GRANTED 25 and Hopkins’s motion for reconsideration is DENIED. 26 /// 27 1 28 All other claims were dismissed without prejudice for Hopkins’s failure to exhaust administrative remedies. (See Docket No. 61.) 1 BACKGROUND 2 1. Hopkins’s Medical Treatment 3 There are no material facts in dispute. Hopkins was arrested and booked by the 4 Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office on December 18, 2010, for a parole violation, and 5 released on December 22, 2010. (Weaver Decl. ¶ 3, Ex. D.) He was detained again on 6 December 23, 2010, until December 28, 2012, when he was transferred to state prison. 7 (Id. at ¶¶ 4 & 5, Exs. B & C.) He was re-booked at the County’s Martinez Detention 8 Facility (“MDF”) on April 25, 2011, on a removal order from Avenal State Prison. (Id. at 9 ¶ 6, Ex. D.) Hopkins remained in the Sheriff’s custody until September 12, 2012. (Id.) 10 While at MDF on May 17, 2011, Hopkins was seen by Dr. Brett Curtis. (McBride United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Decl. ¶ 5.) Hopkins was complaining of back pain from a car accident he had suffered 12 three years prior. (Id.) His medical records indicated that Hopkins had an MRI on 13 September 29, 2010, before he was incarcerated in the County; the MRI showed that he 14 had degenerative disc disease, bulging discs, and moderate to severe neural foraminal 15 narrowing of his lumbosacral spine. (Id.) The medical records from November 17, 2010, 16 prior to his incarceration in the County, showed that Hopkins was prescribed Neurontin for 17 pain and instructed to begin daily activity. (Id.) Dr. Curtis prescribed Neurontin for 18 Hopkin’s back pain on May 26, 2011. (Id. at ¶ 6.) Thereafter, Hopkins continued to 19 receive various pain medications while incarcerated at MDF: Neurontin (5/26/11 to 20 3/10/12), Tramadol (7/7/11 to 8/6/11; 9/23/11 to 1/13/12), Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen 21 (8/24/11 to 9/21/11; 3/16/12 to 3/24/12); Morphine (12/9/11 to 1/8/12); Morphine SR 22 (12/13/11 to 4/11/12); and Nabumetone (12/27/11 to 7/25/12). (Id. at ¶ 14.) 23 On September 27, 2011, Hopkins was seen for a follow-up hernia surgery and for 24 his back pain. (McBride Decl. ¶ 7.) On November 8, 2011, Hopkins received an MRI of 25 his back at his request. (Id. at ¶ 8.) Hopkins had an appointment on November 19, 2011, 26 to discuss his MRI results but missed the appointment for unknown reasons. (Id. at ¶ 9.) 27 On December 9, 2011, Hopkins met with Dr. Curtis to discuss the MRI results which were 28 the same as in 2010; Hopkins had mild to moderate multi-level degenerative disc disease, 2 1 bulging discs and osteophytes. (Id. at ¶ 10.) 2 On December 22, 2011, Hopkins submitted two medical requests, which defendant 3 Samuel Rosales answered on January 19, 2012. (Rosales Decl. ¶5, Ex. A.)2 Rosales, who 4 provides administrative oversight of detention health operations for the Department of 5 Health Services for Contra Costa County, stated that Hopkins’s complaints were being 6 reviewed by medical staff and that a meeting would be scheduled to address his concerns. 7 (Id.) Rosales explained that he had been out of the office on vacation and therefore not 8 able to respond sooner. (Id.) On January 20, 2012, Hopkins was educated regarding back exercises. (McBride 9 Decl. ¶ 11.) On February 3, 2012, Dr. Curtis referred Hopkins to a spine clinic. (Id.) On 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 February 7, 2012, Hopkins met with defendant Rosales and a medical team to discuss his 12 treatment, after which he reported being “relatively satisfied” with his treatment since he 13 had an appointment with the spine clinic. (Id. at ¶ 12, Ex. C.) Hopkins was seen in the 14 spine clinic on April 4, 2012, and prescribed exercise and a back brace. (Id. at ¶ 13.) 15 Other than pain medication, exercise and a back brace, no other treatment was indicated 16 for Hopkins’s back condition. (Id. at ¶ 15.) Hopkins alleges that he did not receive timely results from the MRI taken on 17 18 November 8, 2011, and that defendants failed to provide a doctor to discuss the MRI 19 results with him or refer him to a specialist to treat his pain as of the date he signed the 20 instant complaint on February 10, 2012.3 (Id. at 6.) He claims their deliberate indifference 21 violated to his Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care. (Id. at 5.) 22 2. Potentially Responsible Defendant 23 As defendants argue, because this action is now limited to the deliberate 24 2 25 26 27 28 Rosales serves as the liaison between the Sheriff’s Office and Health services regarding the provision of health services in the County’s detention facilities. (Rosales Decl. ¶ 3.) He does not have a medical degree or any medical training and does not provide any medical care or advice to County inmates. (Id. at ¶ 4.) 3 The Court previsously found that only these claims were properly exhausted. (See Docket No. 61 at 7.) 3 1 indifference claim discussed above, the only remaining defendant is Samuel Rosales, the 2 Health Care Administrator for Detention Health Services of Contra Costa County. The 3 other defendants should be dismissed. (Docket No. 74 at 1.) That result is consistent with 4 the facts and with Hopkins’s pleading. Medical treatment at the County detention facilities is provided by the Department 5 6 of Health Services, a separate department from the Sheriff’s Office. (Livingston Decl. ¶ 7 4.) Sheriff Livingston and his employees have no authority or control over health services 8 provided to inmates. (Id.) Moreover, Sheriff Livingston, Deputy Norvell, Sgt. Baker and Ms. Tao were all 9 named by Hopkins with respect to unexhausted claims relating to his lack of safety in jail. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 See supra at 1, fn. 1. Hopkins identified “Defendants of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s 12 Medical Department names as DOE Defendants and Medical Director Sam Rosales and 13 their agents” as the responsible parties for the deliberate indifference claim. (Compl. at 6.) 14 As it is clear that only Rosales is identified and named as a defendant with respect to the 15 lone claim remaining in this action, all other defendants are DISMISSED. Defendants assert that Rosales is entitled to summary judgment because (i) the 16 17 undisputed facts show that Hopkins received timely and effective medical care, (ii) there is 18 no supervisor liability, and (iii) because he is entitled to qualified immunity. (Docket No. 19 74 at 8-10.) DISCUSSION 20 21 A. Standard of Review 22 Summary judgment is proper where the pleadings, discovery and affidavits 23 demonstrate that there is "no genuine dispute as to any material fact and [that] the movant 24 is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). Material facts are those 25 which may affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 26 248 (1986). A dispute as to a material fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence for a 27 reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id. 28 The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of identifying 4 1 those portions of the pleadings, discovery and affidavits which demonstrate the absence of 2 a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). 3 Where the moving party will have the burden of proof on an issue at trial, it must 4 affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the 5 moving party. On an issue for which the opposing party by contrast will have the burden 6 of proof at trial, as is the case here, the moving party need only point out "that there is an 7 absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Id. at 325. 8 Once the moving party meets its initial burden, the nonmoving party must go 9 beyond the pleadings and, by its own affidavits or discovery, set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The Court is 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 concerned only with disputes over material facts and "[f]actual disputes that are irrelevant 12 or unnecessary will not be counted." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. It is not the task of the 13 court to scour the record in search of a genuine issue of triable fact. Keenan v. Allan, 91 14 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996). The nonmoving party has the burden of identifying, with 15 reasonable particularity, the evidence that precludes summary judgment. Id. If the 16 nonmoving party fails to make this showing, "the moving party is entitled to a judgment as 17 a matter of law." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323 (internal quotations omitted). 18 B. 19 Analysis Deliberate indifference to a prisoner's serious medical needs violates the Eighth 20 Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment. See Estelle v. Gamble, 21 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). A determination of "deliberate indifference" involves an 22 examination of two elements: the seriousness of the prisoner's medical needs and the 23 nature of the defendant's response to those needs. McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 24 1059 (9th Cir. 1992) (overruled on other grounds, WMX Technologies, Inc. v. Miller, 104 25 F.3d 1133, 1136 (9th Cir. 1997) (en banc)). 26 A prison official is deliberately indifferent if he knows that a prisoner faces a 27 substantial risk of serious harm and disregards that risk by failing to take reasonable steps 28 to abate it. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994) (equating standard with that of 5 1 criminal recklessness). The prison official must not only "be aware of facts from which 2 the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists," but "must also 3 draw the inference." Id. Consequently, in order for deliberate indifference to be 4 established, there must exist both a purposeful act or failure to act on the part of the 5 defendant and harm resulting therefrom. See McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1060. In order to prevail on a claim of deliberate indifference to medical needs, a plaintiff 7 must establish that the course of treatment the doctors chose was "medically unacceptable 8 under the circumstances" and that they embarked on this course in "conscious disregard of 9 an excessive risk to [plaintiff's] health." See Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1058-60 10 (9th Cir. 2004). A claim of mere negligence related to medical problems, or a difference 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 6 of opinion between a prisoner patient and a medical doctor, is not enough to make out a 12 violation of the Eighth Amendment. Id.; Franklin v. Oregon, 662 F.2d 1337, 1344 (9th 13 Cir. 1981). The facts in this case do not show a genuine dispute as to any material fact relating 14 15 to Hopkins’s claims of deliberate indifference regarding his MRI and referral to a 16 specialist for his back pain. It is undisputed that Hopkins received continuous pain 17 medication to manage his back pain throughout his incarceration at MDF. See supra at 2. 18 After his meeting with his medical team and defendant Rosales on February 7, 2012, 19 Hopkins was reported to be “relatively satisfied” with his treatment, particularly as he was 20 scheduled to visit the spine clinic. Id. at 3. In opposition, Hopkins asserts that he was not aware of his MRI results until he 21 22 received copies of his medical records by court order on or about December 8, 2011. 23 (Opp. at 2.)4 There is no indication that the failure to provide him with the MRI results 24 sooner was the fault of Rosales. It appears that Rosales first became aware of Hopkins’s 25 26 27 28 4 Hopkins’s opposition actually reads “December 8, 2012” instead of December 8, 2011. However, one can tell from the context of that date within the sequence of events that Hopkins was describing, as well as from his allegations in the complaint itself, that he received the MRI results in 2011 and not 2012, and that the use of “2012” in his opposition was an inadvertent mistake. 6 1 medical concerns when he reviewed Hopkins’s medical requests dated December 22, 2 2011. See supra at 2. Rosales’s response to Hopkins on January 19, 2012, stated that 3 medical staff was reviewing his complaints and that they would be scheduling a meeting to 4 discuss his concerns. Id. Meanwhile, Dr. Curtis had already agreed to refer Hopkins to the 5 spine clinic on February 3, 2012. Id. Just three weeks after his letter to Hopkins, Rosales 6 met with Hopkins and his medical team on February 7, 2012, at which time Hopkins 7 expressed satisfaction with his current treatment plan. Id. 8 9 Hopkins’s claim does not survive summary judgment even if one takes as true his factual assertions. Even if it can be said that he received the results of his MRI unreasonably late, there is no evidence that Rosales was responsible for the delay. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 Furthermore, there is no evidence that Hopkins suffered any harm in the delay because the 12 MRI results showed that his pre-existing back condition had not changed or worsened. 13 Hopkins was also referred to the spine clinic, where it was determined that exercise and a 14 back brace were the appropriate course of treatment. It appears that Rosales showed the 15 appropriate care for Hopkins’s medical needs by arranging the meeting with the medical 16 team and Hopkins. There is certainly no deliberate indifference shown on this record. 17 To the extent that Hopkins attempts to hold defendant Rosales liable as a 18 supervisor, there is no merit to this claim. A supervisor may be liable under section 1983 19 upon a showing of (1) personal involvement in the constitutional deprivation or (2) a 20 sufficient causal connection between the supervisor's wrongful conduct and the 21 constitutional violation. Henry A. v. Willden, 678 F.3d 991, 1003-04 (9th Cir. 2012) 22 (citing Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1207 (9th Cir. 2011)). As discussed above, there was 23 no constitutional deprivation nor was there any evidence that Rosales was personally 24 involved in the alleged delay in Hopkins obtaining his MRI results. See supra at 6. 25 26 Hopkins has not shown a genuine dispute as to any material fact regarding his claim that Rosales acted with deliberate indifference. Accordingly, the motion for summary 27 28 7 1 judgment is GRANTED.5 2 C. Motion to Amend the Complaint and for Reconsideration In his opposition, Hopkins attempts to raise new claims regarding the prescription 3 4 of high blood pressure medication, the use of crutches and an orthopedic devise. (Opp. at 5 3.) He also moves to amend the complaint with claims of retaliation and harassment. (Id. 6 at 4.) He further seeks reconsideration of the Court’s earlier order denying leave to 7 amend. Hopkins may not raise new allegations in his opposition or by amendment without 8 an explanation why he failed to raise them earlier. This case has been pending since 10 February 21, 2012. Even if the Court construes the opposition and/or the motion for 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 9 reconsideration as a request to file a supplemental pleading, the Court would deny it 12 because matters newly alleged in a supplemental complaint must have some relation to the 13 claim(s) set forth in the original pleading. See Keith v. Volpe, 858 F.2d 467, 474 (9th Cir. 14 1988). A supplemental pleading cannot be used to introduce separate, distinct and new 15 causes of action that should be the subject of a separate suit. See Planned Parenthood of 16 So. Arizona v. Neely, 130 F.3d 400, 402 (9th Cir. 1997). Accordingly, Hopkins’s motion 17 to amend the complaint to allege new claims is again DENIED, and for the same reason, 18 his motion for reconsideration of motion for leave to file an amended complaint (Docket 19 No. 100) is DENIED. 20 CONCLUSION 21 22 Accordingly, defendants’ motion for summary judgment (Docket No. 74) is 23 GRANTED in favor of Rosales. The claims against all other defendants are DISMISSED. 24 The Clerk shall terminate them from this action. 25 26 27 5 28 Because the Court has found there was no constitutional deprivation, it is not necessary to reach defendant’s qualified immunity argument. 8 1 The Clerk shall terminate Docket Nos. 74 and 100, enter judgment in favor 2 defendant Rosales, and close the file. 3 IT IS SO ORDERED. 4 Dated: March 13, 2014 _________________________ WILLIAM H. ORRICK United States District Judge 5 6 7 8 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 9 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA KEVIN LAMAR HOPKINS, Case Number: CV12-00813 WHO Plaintiff, CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE v. CONTRA COSTA COUNTY et al, Defendant. / I, the undersigned, hereby certify that I am an employee in the Office of the Clerk, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. That on March 13, 2014, I SERVED a true and correct copy of the attached, by placing said copy in a postage paid envelope addressed to the person hereinafter listed, by depositing said envelope in the U.S. Mail. Kevin L. Hopkins V76611 CSP-Solano II P.O. Box 4000 Vacaville, CA 95696-4000 Dated: March 13, 2014 Richard W. Wieking, Clerk By: Jean Davis, Deputy Clerk

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