United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
DANIEL HALDANE, WENDEL JOHNSON, TIMOTHY MARTIN, and LEESHAWN REDIC, Plaintiffs,
G. STEVEN HAMMOND, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of the Washington State Department of Corrections, and DAN PACHOLKE, Secretary of the Washington State Department of Corrections, in their official capacities, Defendants.
Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for
Class Certification and Appointment of Class Counsel. Dkt. ##
47, 81. Defendants oppose the Motion. Dkt. # 90. Having
considered the parties' briefs and balance of the record,
the Court finds oral argument unnecessary. For the reasons
stated below, the Court DENIES
are prisoners in the custody of the Washington Department of
Corrections (DOC). Dkt. # 1 (Complaint). DOC's healthcare
services are subject to the Offender Health Plan (OHP).
Id. at ¶ 9. The OHP defines what types of
medical care are “medically necessary.”
Id. at ¶ 10; see also Dkt. # 47-1 at
11-12 (defining “medical necessity”). The OHP
segregates care into three Levels: Level 1 care is considered
medically necessary such that a practitioner may authorize
treatment; Level 2 care constitutes care that may be
medically necessary but requires authorization by the Care
Review Committee (CRC); Level 3 care is not medically
necessary and therefore a practitioner may not authorize
treatment. Dkt. ## 47-1 at 13, 47-2 at 1.
is composed of physicians, physician assistants, and nurse
practitioners. Dkt. ## 1 (Complaint) at ¶ 13, 47-2 at
2-5 (describing the CRC Review Procedure). The committee
meets every week for a teleconference that lasts up to two
hours. Dkt. # 1 (Complaint) at ¶ 15. The committee
decides whether Level 2 care should be authorized-thereby
raising it to Level 1 status-or denied-demoting it to Level
each have ailments for which their providers submitted
requests to the CRC for specific treatment. See
generally Dkt. # 1 (Complaint) at ¶¶ 26-71.
The CRC denied treatment, and Plaintiffs claim that the
refusals lead to their continued suffering from severe pain
and limitations on daily living. Id. at ¶¶
41, 54, 62, 71. Plaintiffs argue that the CRC is unreasonably
denying care not just to the named plaintiffs but to an
entire class of inmates. Accordingly, Plaintiffs filed a
class action lawsuit against DOC and its Chief Medical
Officer and Secretary.
Court's decision to certify a class is discretionary.
Vinole v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 571
F.3d 935, 944 (9th Cir. 2009). Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 23 (“Rule 23”) guides the Court's
exercise of discretion. A plaintiff “bears the burden
of demonstrating that he has met each of the four
requirements of Rule 23(a) and at least one of the [three
alternative] requirements of Rule 23(b).” Lozano v.
AT&T Wireless Servs., Inc., 504 F.3d 718, 724 (9th
Cir. 2007). Rule 23(a) requires a plaintiff to demonstrate
that the proposed class is sufficiently numerous, that it
presents common issues of fact or law, that it will be led by
one or more class representatives with claims typical of the
class, and that the class representative will adequately
represent the class. Gen. Tel. Co. of the S.W. v.
Falcon, 457 U.S. 147, 161 (1982); Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a).
plaintiff satisfies the Rule 23(a) requirements, he must also
show that the proposed class action meets one of the three
requirements of Rule 23(b). Zinser v. Accufix Research
Inst., Inc., 253 F.3d 1180, 1186 (9th Cir. 2001). Here,
Plaintiffs move for class certification under Rule 23(b)(2).
Rule 23(b)(2) requires that “the party opposing the
class has acted or refused to act on grounds that apply
generally to the class, so that final injunctive relief or
corresponding declaratory relief is appropriate respecting
the class as a whole.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(2). Rule
23(b)(2) is met where “a single injunction or
declaratory judgment would provide relief to each member of
the class.” Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes,
564 U.S. 338, 360 (2011).
considering Rule 23's requirements, the Court must engage
in a “rigorous analysis, ” but a “rigorous
analysis does not always result in a lengthy explanation or
in depth review of the record.” Chamberlan v. Ford
Motor Co., 402 F.3d 952, 961 (9th Cir. 2005) (citing
Falcon, 457 U.S. at 161). The Court is neither
permitted nor required to conduct a “preliminary
inquiry into the merits” of the plaintiff's claims.
Blackie v. Barrack, 524 F.2d 891, 901 (9th Cir.
1975) (citing Eisen v. Carlisle & Jacquelin, 417
U.S. 156, 177 (1974)); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 23
advisory committee's note (2003) (“[A]n evaluation
of the probable outcome on the merits is not properly part of
the certification decision.”); but see Dukes,
564 U.S. at 351 (suggesting that Rule 23 analysis may be
inextricable from some judgments on the merits in a
particular case). The Court may assume the truth of a
plaintiff's substantive allegations, but may require more
than bare allegations to determine whether a plaintiff has
satisfied the requirements of Rule 23. See,
e.g., Blackie, 524 F.2d at 901, n.17;
Clark v. Watchie, 513 F.2d 994, 1000 (9th Cir. 1975)
(“If the trial judge has made findings as to the
provisions of the Rule and their application to the case, his
determination of class status should be considered within his
propose that the Court certify the following class:
All current and future prisoners, incarcerated under the
jurisdiction of the Washington Department of Corrections,
whose access to necessary medical care has been denied, or
will be subject to denial, under the Department's
policies and ...