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Parenteau v. Sanders

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

March 5, 2018



          BRIAN A. TSUCHIDA United States Magistrate Judge.

         Richard L. Parenteau, Jr., who is currently in custody at the Washington Corrections Center, commenced this civil rights action proceeding under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Dkts. 6, 8, 23. His civil rights claims arise out of a previous period of pretrial detention at King County Correctional Facility. Dkt. 6, 8. Mr. Parenteau, Jr. alleges in his amended complaint that the Director of King County Jail Health Services, Benjamin Sanders, M.D., violated his constitutional rights when he failed to provide adequate medical care in denying him testing necessary to detect devices implanted in his body in 2012. Dkt. 8. Dr. Sanders, the lone defendant in this action, now moves for summary judgment. Dkt. 26. Mr. Parenteau, Jr. did not file a response with the Court. However, defendant subsequently filed a reply brief referencing and discussing arguments made by Mr. Parenteau in response to the motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 30. Accordingly, the Court directed defendant to file the document referenced and discussed as Mr. Parenteau's response as an exhibit to his reply. Dkt. 32. Defense counsel subsequently filed a declaration including as an exhibit the documents from Mr. Parenteau responding to defendant's motion and referenced in defendant's reply.[1] Dkt. 33. The Court, having considered defendant's motion, the briefing of the parties, and the balance of the record, RECOMMENDS that defendant's motion for summary judgment be GRANTED and that plaintiff's amended complaint and this action should be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.


         The parties agree that Mr. Parenteau complained to Jail Health Services (JHS) medical staff, including defendant, regarding “implanted devices that are under my skin and adhered to my penis, my testicles, my forehead, [and] my abdominals.” Dkt. 8, at 4; Dkt. 26; Dkt. 28. Mr. Parenteau does not specifically claim that he was not examined or evaluated in response to his complaints but only that the medical care is inadequate because “Dr. Sanders is refusing to schedule medical imaging with a specialist.” Dkt. 8, at 4. Defendant does not dispute that he refused to schedule additional imaging despite Mr. Parenteau's request and indicates this is because his physical examination of Mr. Parenteau revealed “no evidence of illness, foreign body, or other organic problem that could explain his symptoms” and he therefore concluded that no additional workup was necessary. Dkt. 26, at 3-4; Dkt. 28. Thus, the issue in dispute is whether defendant's refusal to schedule additional medical imaging with a specialist constituted deliberate indifference to Mr. Parenteau's serious medical need.


         Defendant argues that summary judgment is warranted in this case because Mr. Parenteau suffered no violation of a constitutional right, and there is no evidence to support a deliberate indifference claim against him. Dkt. 26. Specifically, defendants argue that Mr. Parenteau fails to present evidence of a serious medical need and his disagreement with defendant as to the proper course of treatment is insufficient to establish a claim of deliberate indifference. Id., at 6. Mr. Parenteau's response argues that Dr. Sanders' statements submitted in support of his motion for summary judgment are “completely false, ” that he has never been asked or refused to take a psychiatric evaluation, that defendant has no proof he suffers from any mental disorder, that the JHS medical records submitted by defendant are inadmissible hearsay, that neither he nor any JHS employee has ever seen medical imaging showing there are no foreign bodies present in his body but also that he in fact has medical imaging showing implants in his body. Dkt. 33-1, at 3-5, 10-13.

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment should be granted if the record, taken as a whole, shows there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). An issue of fact is “genuine” if it constitutes evidence with which “a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A genuine issue of fact is “material” if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Id. at 248. The moving party can carry its initial burden by producing affirmative evidence that negates an essential element of the nonmovant's case, or by establishing that the nonmovant lacks the quantum of evidence needed to satisfy its burden of persuasion at trial. Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co., Ltd. v. Fritz Cos., Inc., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000). There can be no genuine issue as to any material fact where there is a complete failure of proof as to an essential element of the nonmoving party's case because all other facts are thereby rendered immaterial. See Celotex v. Cattret, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

         The evidence is viewed and reasonable inferences are drawn in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. United States v. Johnson Controls, Inc., 457 F.3d 1009, 1013 (9th Cir. 2006). Nevertheless, the opposing party may not rest solely upon the pleadings' allegations or denials, but must present significant probative evidence that is sufficient to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-50. The opposing party must offer more than a mere “metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Conclusory and non-specific statements in affidavits are not sufficient, and missing facts will not be presumed. Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888-89 (1990). A district court has no independent duty “to scour the record in search of a genuine issue of triable fact, ” and may “rely on the nonmoving party to identify with reasonable particularity the evidence that precludes summary judgment.” Simmons v. Navajo Cty., Ariz., 609 F.3d 1011, 1017 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Keenan v. Allan, 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996)). The question on summary judgment, then, is “whether the evidence is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-252.

         The Court may consider any unopposed assertion of fact to be an undisputed fact for purposes of the motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2). If a party fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact, the Court may “grant summary judgment if the motion and supporting materials - including the facts considered undisputed - show that the movant is entitled to it.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(3).

         B. Section 1983

         In order to sustain a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must show (i) that he suffered a violation of rights protected by the Constitution or created by federal statute, and (ii) that the violation was proximately caused by a person acting under color of state law. See Crumpton v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991). The causation requirement of § 1983 is satisfied only if a plaintiff demonstrates that a defendant did an affirmative act, participated in another's affirmative act, or omitted to perform an act which he was legally required to do that caused the deprivation complained of. Arnold v. IBM, 637 F.2d 1350, 1355 (9th Cir. 1981) (citing Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743-44 (9th Cir. 1978)).

         C. Inadequate Medical Care

         The Eighth Amendment imposes a duty upon prison officials to provide humane conditions of confinement. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). This duty includes ensuring that inmates receive adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. When a claim of inadequate medical care is brought by a pretrial detainee, the claim arises under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Clouthier v. County of Contra Costa, 591 F.3d 1232, 1243-44 (9th Cir. 2010); Simmons v. Navajo ...

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