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Ochoa v. Mason

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

September 22, 2017

PAUL OCHOA, Plaintiff,
v.
EEAN MASON, et al., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          THERESA L. FRICKE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Paul Ochoa, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights lawsuit alleging that he was assigned a top bunk while he was an inmate at the Department of Corrections (“DOC”) Washington Corrections Center (“WCC”) and that he injured his shoulder while climbing down from the upper bunk. Defendants Dean (identified as “Eean” by plaintiff) Mason and Frank Longano (identified as “Lonano” by plaintiff) move for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Fed. R. Civ. P.”) 56. Dkt. 15. They contend there are no allegations demonstrating their involvement and it is undisputed that they did not personally participate in any of the alleged events that caused Mr. Ochoa's injury. Dkt. 15. Mr. Ochoa filed no papers in opposition to the motion.

         Having reviewed the parties' filings, summary judgment evidence, and balance of the record, the undersigned recommends that defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted.

         FACTS

         Mr. Ochoa began his state time at WCC on August 16, 2013. Dkt. 7, p. 2. Approximately two months later, he was transferred to Cedar Creek Corrections Center (“CCCC”). On March 24, 2014, Mr. Ochoa was transferred to Twin Rivers in Monroe, Washington and during that transfer, he spent one night at the WCC where he was assigned to a top bunk. Id. He states that he immediately informed unidentified “staff” that he was disabled and not supposed to be assigned an upper bunk. Mr. Ochoa alleges that he became disabled in 1985 after a car accident after which his left side remained partially paralyzed. He also alleges that he had been assigned a Health Status Report (“HSR”) at his previous prison location indicating he should be assigned an upper bunk. However, unidentified WCC staff advised Mr. Ochoa on March 24, 2014, that he would have to go to the assigned upper bunk because there were no lower bunks available. Id. Thereafter, Mr. Ochoa fell to the concrete floor from the upper bunk and injured his shoulder. Id.

         Mr. Ochoa alleges that he began a “conservative Treatment program” for his shoulder at Twin Rivers and on October 10, 2015, was told that the treatment had failed. X-rays taken October 16, 2015 revealed a “severe displacement which caused a deteriorating rotator cuff requiring immediate surgery”. After the Care Review Committee (“CRC”) determined that surgery was not necessary, Mr. Ochoa filed a grievance. At Providence Hospital he received a cat-scan, and on December 8, 2015, he was admitted for surgery of a “locked chronic anterior shoulder dislocation diagnosis to replace [his] right shoulder rotator cuff and ball joint.” Dkt. 7, p. 3. Mr. Ochoa alleges that he “endured 21 months of pain” after falling from an upper bunk, and he seeks $5 million in damages. Id.

         According to Defendant Frank Longano, WCC Medical Director, inmates can request a HSR for an accommodation, including assignment to a lower bunk. Dkt. 17, Declaration of Frank Longano, ¶4. Unit staff does not have access to inmate medical files. If an inmate receives a HSR, medical staff keeps the original record and the inmate is given a copy. A copy is not provided to unit staff unless provided by the inmate. Id.

         DOC's Statewide Offender Orientation Handbook (Handbook) states that the Handbook “is provided to all offenders housed at Department facilities.” Dkt. 17, Longano Decl., ¶ 5. The August of 2013 to March of 2014 versions of the Handbook states:

         Health Status Report (HSR)

         The form DOC 13-041 Health Status Report (HSR) is a document that notes any medical, visual, mental health, and/or dental limitations you may have.

         â€¢ If your medical condition requires you to have special equipment or items, such as ace wraps, crutches, a wheelchair, etc., you will be issued an HSR.

         â€¢ You must keep your copy of the HSR with you to show that the equipment is authorized.

         â€¢ You are required to comply with the instructions and ...


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