Crabaugh v. Snider, et al
OPINION AND ORDER: Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment 13 isGRANTED in part and DENIED in part. Ms. Crabaugh's first claim for relief is DISMISSED with prejudice. Ms. Crabaugh's second claim for relief is DISMISSED as to all Defendants besides Dr. Shelton. Signed on 8/8/17 by Judge Michael W. Mosman. (dls)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF OREGON
OPINION AND ORDER
DR. ROBERT SNIDER, et al.,
Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment , arguing they are entitled to
judgment in their favor because Ms. Crabaugh’s claims are untimely and because she failed to
exhaust her administrative remedies. For the reasons stated below, Defendants’ Motion for
Summary Judgment  is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
The series of events underlying this case began on December 6, 2012, when Ms.
Crabaugh, an inmate in the custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections (“ODOC”), slipped
while working in the kitchen at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (“CCCF”). As a result,
Ms. Crabaugh allegedly injured her lower back, hips, sacrum, and coccyx. Ms. Caugaugh filed
three grievances with the prison related to the incident and her ensuing injuries.
1 – OPINION AND ORDER
Pursuant to prison regulations, Ms. Crabaugh submitted a grievance, CCCF.2012.12.034,
on December 20, 2012 (“the 2012 grievance”), where she grieved the allegedly unsafe conditions
that caused her injury. Mr. Patrick Regan, a food services employee at CCCF, responded to the
grievance on January 19, 2013. Ms. Crabaugh did not appeal the grievance after receiving Mr.
On November 1, 2013, Ms. Crabaugh submitted a second grievance, CCCF.2013.11.006
(“the 2013 grievance”), where she grieved her alleged lack of adequate medical care.
Specifically, she grieved the denial of her request for an MRI, which she believed would show
damage from the December 6, 2012 fall and explain the pain she continued to experience since
the fall. On November 19, 2013, a nurse responded to the grievance. Ms. Crabaugh appealed
the response on December 2, 2013. The appeal was denied on December 10, 2013, because Ms.
Crabaugh failed to comply with the proper procedures for submitting a grievance appeal. Ms.
Crabaugh did not resubmit the appeal or further proceed with the grievance in any other way.
On June 3, 2015, Ms. Crabaugh submitted a third grievance, CCCF.2015.06.003 (“the
2015 grievance”), which CCCF received and accepted on June 4, 2015. There, Ms. Crabaugh
grieved her alleged lack of adequate medical care since the December 6, 2012 accident.
Pursuant to policy, the grievance was initially returned to Ms. Crabaugh because she was
involved in litigation related to the December 6, 2012 accident. Ms. Crabaugh resubmitted the
grievance on June 19, 2015, after she had voluntarily dismissed the pending case. CCCF
accepted the grievance, and the health services manager responded on July 1, 2015. Ms.
Crabaugh eventually filed a first and second level appeal of the grievance, thereby exhausting the
administrative remedies associated with her complaint in the grievance on October 19, 2015.
2 – OPINION AND ORDER
Defendants do not dispute that Ms. Crabaugh exhausted her administrative remedies as they
relate to the 2015 grievance.
On May 20, 2016, Ms. Crabaugh brought a Section 1983 action against multiple
defendants who work for ODOC. 1 The Complaint  alleges two claims for relief grounded in
violations of Ms. Crabaugh’s constitutional rights. The first claim alleges that Defendants were
deliberately indifferent to Ms. Crabaugh’s medical needs when they failed to provide her with
adequate evaluation and treatment of her injuries that resulted from her fall on December 6,
2012. Her second claim alleges cruel and unusual punishment, as well as deliberate indifference
to her medical needs, based on Defendants’ failure to provide adequate and timely evaluation to
care for her acute and chronic pain. Defendants have moved for summary judgment on both
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 judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(a). The initial burden for a motion for summary judgment is on the moving party to identify
the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323
(1986). Once that burden is satisfied, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to demonstrate,
through the production of evidence listed in Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1), that there remains a
“genuine issue for trial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. The non-moving party may not rely upon the
pleading allegations. Brinson v. Linda Rose Joint Venture, 53 F.3d 1044, 1049 (9th Cir. 1995)
(citing Fed. R. Civ. P 56(e)). All reasonable doubts and inferences to be drawn from the facts are
This is Ms. Crabaugh’s second legal action related to the December 6, 2012 accident. She also brought a legal
action on December 5, 2014, where she asserted claims against prison officials for the unsafe conditions that led to
her accident at CCCF and the alleged inadequate treatment she received as a result. She voluntarily moved to
dismiss that case without prejudice, which the Court granted on May 29, 2015.
3 – OPINION AND ORDER
to be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.,
Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).
Defendants argue they are entitled to summary judgment for several reasons. First, they
argue that Ms. Crabaugh’s claims are barred by the statute of limitations. Second, they argue
that Ms. Crabaugh failed to exhaust her administrative remedies as to the 2012 and 2013
grievances, thereby limiting her claims and damages to the allegations raised in the 2015
grievance. Third, Defendants argue that the 2015 grievance applies only to Dr. Shelton, entitling
all other defendants to summary judgment.
For the reasons discussed below, Defendants are entitled to summary judgment on Ms.
Crabaugh’s first claim for relief because it is untimely. As to her second claim, she exhausted
her administrative remedies as to Dr. Shelton. But all other Defendants are entitled to summary
judgment because she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies against them.
Statute of Limitations
Defendants argue Ms. Crabaugh’s claims are not timely since the underlying injury
occurred more than two years before she brought this case. Ms. Crabaugh responds that her
claims fall within the statute of limitations because Defendants’ deliberate indifference to her
medical care is ongoing.
In Oregon, Section 1983 claims must be filed within two years of when a claim has
accrued. Sain v. City of Bend, 309 F.3d 1134, 1139-40 (9th Cir. 2002); see also Lukovsky v. City
and Cnty. of San Francisco, 535 F.3d 1044, 1048 (9th Cir. 2008) (“Accrual is the date on which
the statute of limitations begins to run.”). A claim accrues “when the plaintiff knows or has
reason to know of the injury which is the basis of the action.” Lukovsky, 535 F.3d at 1048
4 – OPINION AND ORDER
(citation omitted). “When a tort involves continuing wrongful conduct,” however, “the statute of
limitations doesn’t begin to run until that conduct ends.” Flowers v. Carville, 310 F.3d 1118,
1126 (9th Cir. 2002) (citing Page v. United States, 729 F.2d 818, 821 (D.C. Cir. 1984)). This is
called the “continuing tort doctrine,” and it “applies where there is ‘no single incident’ that can
‘fairly or realistically be identified as the cause of significant harm.’” Id. (citation omitted).
Ms. Crabaugh’s first claim specifically stems from the alleged inadequate treatment she
received for the “sacral fracture and coccydynia” that she sustained from the December 6, 2012
accident. It is clear the events that led to her accident are well outside of the statute of
limitations. In theory, however, Ms. Crabaugh could still bring a claim for the Defendants’
ongoing failure to treat the injuries that resulted from the accident if she continued to seek
treatment for those injuries within the statute of limitations period. According to the Complaint,
a doctor first examined Ms. Crabaugh on December 12, 2012. She received x-rays in December
2012 and March 2013, to determine the extent of her injuries. She also received a lower bunk in
March 2013, after requesting one in December 2012. In October 2013, she was prescribed
physical therapy, and on December 8, 2013, she was provided a donut-shaped cushion to help
relieve pain when sitting.
Ms. Crabaugh does not allege that she requested any further medical treatment for the
sacral fracture and coccydynia after receiving the cushion. Accordingly, even if I find that the
alleged inadequate treatment for the sacral fracture and coccydynia constituted a continuing tort,
the statute of limitations for that claim would have accrued on December 8, 2013. Therefore,
Ms. Crabaugh had until December 8, 2015 to bring a claim against Defendants.
5 – OPINION AND ORDER
Because Ms. Crabaugh did not bring this claim until May 20, 2016, it is well outside of
the statute of limitations. Moreover, Ms. Crabaugh has not argued that the statute of limitations
should be tolled. Accordingly, Defendants are entitled to summary judgment on the first claim
because it is untimely.
Ms. Crabaugh’s second claim for relief alleges that she was subject to cruel and unusual
punishment as a result of Defendants’ deliberate indifference to her medical needs when they
failed to properly evaluate and care for her acute and chronic pain. This claim also relates to
injuries she sustained from the December 6, 2012 accident. The allegations in the Complaint
suggest that Ms. Crabaugh was not referred to a women’s health specialist until May 18, 2015—
two-and-a-half years after the accident—even though she continually complained of pain in her
pelvic region. She claims she endured years of untreated pain because of that delay.
Ms. Crabaugh’s second claim for relief falls within the statute of limitations. The alleged
inadequate treatment occurred through at least May 18, 2015, when Ms. Crabaugh first saw a
women’s health specialist. Accordingly, events related to the second claim for relief occurred
within the two years preceding the date on which Ms. Crabaugh filed her complaint in this case.
Therefore, Defendants are not entitled to summary judgment on her second claim because it is
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
Defendants argue that Ms. Crabaugh’s allegations of deliberate indifference before the
initiation of her 2015 grievance proceedings should be dismissed because she failed to exhaust
her administrative remedies. In addition, Defendants argue that the 2015 grievance applies only
to Dr. Shelton, and all other Defendants should be dismissed from this case. Ms. Crabaugh
6 – OPINION AND ORDER
argues that her 2015 grievance fully exhausts her administrative remedies against all Defendants.
Since the 2015 grievance specifically complained of a “pattern and practice” of failing to provide
adequate care, Ms. Crabaugh appears to argue that she may seek redress for all inadequate pain
treatment that occurred since December 6, 2012. Alternatively, Ms. Crabaugh argues that
requiring her to have exhausted her administrative remedies before bringing this Complaint
violates her constitutional equal protection rights.
Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), an inmate must exhaust all available
administrative remedies prior to filing a complaint under Section 1983. Porter v. Nussle, 534
U.S. 516, 524 (2002). Ultimately, failure to exhaust administrative remedies is an affirmative
defense on which Defendants bear the burden of proof. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 212 (2007).
Here, it is clear that Ms. Crabaugh failed to complete the grievance process for her 2012
and 2013 grievances and, thus, she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies as to those
grievances. But Defendants acknowledge that Ms. Crabaugh completed the grievance process
for her 2015 grievance. According to Ms. Crabaugh, that grievance complained of “DOC’s
pattern and practice of delaying and deferring outside consultations,” which she claimed
aggravated her medical condition, caused substantial pain, degraded her physical condition, and
put her at risk of “ongoing and perhaps permanent debilitation.” On its face, it appears this
grievance relates to Ms. Crabaugh’s second claim for relief. Thus, since she exhausted the
grievance procedures for the 2015 grievance, I find that she exhausted her administrative
remedies as they relate to her second claim for relief.
That said, all Defendants except Dr. Shelton argue they are entitled to summary judgment
on the grounds that Dr. Shelton was the only party named in the 2015 grievance. Ms. Crabuagh
7 – OPINION AND ORDER
argues that her grievance concerned the prison’s “pattern and practice” of providing inadequate
treatment, which necessarily concerned the health care decisions of multiple individuals, and that
ODOC accepted the grievance as written. Specifically, she states:
Nothing in the handling of the Grievance indicates that the separate attention of
each of the State Defendants was needed. Presumably if those writing the
responses required greater clarity as to who was involved in Plaintiff’s medical
treatment, they would have said so. They did not.
Accordingly, Ms. Crabaugh asserts that the 2015 grievance, even if it only named Dr. Shelton,
served to exhaust her administrative remedies against all of the defendants she named in her
Complaint because (1) they were all involved in her medical treatment and (2) ODOC accepted
the grievance. In other words, Ms. Crabaugh is arguing that ODOC should have rejected her
grievance and told her to submit a grievance for each individual involved in her health care if
that is what ODOC actually required.
Ms. Crabaugh’s argument about whether her grievance adequately exhausted her
administrative remedies against all Defendants misses the mark. It is true that exhaustion is not
“per se inadequate simply because an individual later sued” was not named in the grievance.
Jones, 549 U.S. at 219. Instead, the “level of detail necessary in a grievance to comply with the
grievance procedures will vary from system to system and claim to claim,” since the prison’s
requirements define the boundaries of proper exhaustion. Id. at 218. Oregon’s rules for
exhaustion allow the inmate to grieve one “matter, action, or incident” per grievance. Or. Admin.
R. 291-109-0140(1)(d) (2017). But, inmates must submit separate grievances for each
individual. Or. Admin. R. 291-109-0140(5) (2017).
Here, it is clear that the 2015 grievance related to a single matter—the continuing failure
to provide Ms. Crabaugh with adequate treatment for her chronic pain. Ms. Crabaugh only
named Dr. Shelton in that grievance. It is entirely possible that Dr. Shelton alone could have
8 – OPINION AND ORDER
engaged in a pattern and practice of failing to adequately care for Ms. Crabaugh’s pain and,
therefore, the grievance would stand as written. Ms. Crabaugh has not provided any evidence to
substantiate the inference that ODOC somehow knew that the grievance pertained to the actions
of more individuals than just Dr. Shelton. Accordingly, while the 2015 grievance serves to
exhaust Ms. Crabaugh’s administrative remedies regarding her second claim for relief, it only
applies to the actions of Dr. Shelton. All other Defendants are entitled to summary judgment in
their favor. 2
Equal Protection Challenge
Alternatively, Ms. Crabaugh argues that the PLRA’s exhaustion requirements should not
apply to her because doing so violates principles of equal protection, and it subjects her to cruel
and unusual punishment. Specifically, Ms. Crabaugh argues that the PLRA violates her right to
equal protection under the law because a non-inmate could bring a similar claim for relief
without having to exhaust administrative remedies.
Ms. Crabaugh’s equal protection challenge is meritless. “Legislation that does not
burden a suspect class or affect fundamental rights satisfies the equal-protection requirement if
the legislature could think the rule rationally related to any legitimate goal of government.”
Johnson v. Daley, 339 F.3d 582, 585 (7th Cir. 2003). Prisoners are not a suspect class. Id. at
585-86; Webber v. Crabtree, 158 F.3d 460, 461 (9th Cir. 1998). The right at issue here is Ms.
Crabaugh’s access to seek redress in court for alleged constitutional violations by prison
officials. It is clear, however, that the “scope of the right of access to the courts is quite limited.”
Madrid v. Gomez, 190 F.3d 990, 995 (9th Cir. 1999). Accordingly, the exhaustion requirements
In making this ruling, I do not decide whether Ms. Crabaugh’s second claim for relief against Dr. Shelton
constitutes a continuing tort violation. That issue has not been raised or argued by the parties.
9 – OPINION AND ORDER
of the PLRA need only be rationally related to legitimate government interests. Mason v.
Bridger, 261 F. App’x. 225, 230 (11th Cir. 2008).
The PLRA serves legitimate government interests. Namely, the PLRA was enacted to
“reduce the quantity and improve the quality of prisoner suits,” and the exhaustion requirement
affords “prison officials ‘time and opportunity to address complaints internally before allowing
the initiation of a federal case.’” Id. (quoting Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 524 (2002)). Ms.
Crabaugh does not claim she was in any way stopped by the prison from exhausting her
administrative remedies against each Defendant, or that administrative redress was effectively
unavailable to her. She simply claims she did not think she needed to file a grievance for each
Defendant. That is not an equal protection violation.
For the reasons stated above, Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment  is
GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. Ms. Crabaugh’s first claim for relief is DISMISSED
with prejudice. Ms. Crabaugh’s second claim for relief is DISMISSED as to all Defendants
besides Dr. Shelton.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
day of March, 2017.
/s/ Michael W. Mosman__________
MICHAEL W. MOSMAN
Chief United States District Judge
10 – OPINION AND ORDER
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