United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER RE: CROSS MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
STANLEY A. BASTIAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are Plaintiff s Motion of Summary Judgment, ECF No.
30, and Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No.
31. The motions were considered without oral arguments.
Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and Defendants are
represented by Michelle Hansen from the Washington State
Attorney General's Office. Plaintiff alleges that
Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free
from cruel and unusual punishment by denying him access to
medical care for chronic back pain. Having considered the
motions, the responses and replies, and the relevant case
law, the Court denies Plaintiff s Motion for
Summary Judgment and grants Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment.
Facts Not in Dispute
is currently incarcerated at Airway Heights Correctional
Center (AHCC). During his time at AHCC, Plaintiff has been
seen repeatedly by prison medical officials for chronic low
back pain related to an injury he suffered as a teenager
prior to his incarceration. ECF No. 9 at 7; ECF No. 39 at
¶ 8. On October 15, 2017, Plaintiff alleges that he woke
up with extreme back pain and signed up for an urgent care
appointment for October 19th. ECF No. 9 at 5. Defendant
Peterson-a physician's assistant with the AHCC urgent
care clinic-was on call on October 19, 2017; he walked Plain
tiff from the waiting room back to the examination room,
observing Plaintiffs gait to assess for any problems. ECF No.
9 at 5; ECF No. 39 at ¶ 8. In addition, Defendant
Peterson reviewed his medical records from previous
encounters with Plaintiff. ECF No. 39 at ¶ 8. Defendant
Peterson concluded that Plaintiff s condition was not so
severe that he required an urgent care visit, as Plaintiff s
pain was considered a chronic condition. Id.
Defendant Peterson then told Plaintiff that he could not
circumvent his primary care physician by making an urgent
care appointment and instructed him to schedule an
appointment with his primary care provider to follow up on
his chronic pain. Id. Defendant Peterson then
escorted Mr. Metcalf back to the waiting room and ended the
appointment. Id. Later this same day, Plaintiff was
examined by Tracy Porter, RN, who noted that Plaintiff
reported chronic low back pain, but was not in a state of
medical emergency. ECF No. 31 at 4. On October 21, Plaintiff
was also seen by Chenelle Patrick, RN, who also noted that
Plaintiff reported chronic low back pain but was not in a
state of medical emergency. ECF No. 38.
after his appointment with Defendant Peterson, Plaintiff sent
a kite declaring a medical emergency; Defendant Peterson
cancelled the kite on grounds that Plaintiff had already been
seen that day. ECF No. 39 at ¶ 9. Plaintiff also filed
an emergency medical grievance complaint, wherein he asserted
that he wanted "medical to do theirjob." ECF No. 9
at 5; ECF No. 39 at ¶ 10. AHCC Custody Unit Supervisor
Paul Duenich reviewed the complaint and, after consultation
with Defendant Peterson, determined that it did not meet the
criteria for an emergent medical complaint and directed the
complaint to proceed through normal channels. ECF No. 34 at
¶ 3; ECF No. 46 at ¶ 2. Defendant McIntyre-Health
Services Manager 2 at AHCC-reviewed the denial of Plaintiff s
initial grievance and concluded that the grievance was
baseless. ECF No. 35. Defendants Key- Superintendent of
AHCC-reviewed the emergency grievance and appeals of the
initial grievance and concluded that the complaint was not
emergent in nature. ECF No. 34. Following these grievances,
Plaintiff did not seek medical attention again until November
27, 2017, when he saw his primary care provider Ruth Oman,
RN. ECF No. 46 at ¶ 3.
judgment is appropriate "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 movingparty has the initial burden of
showing the absence of a genuine issue of fact for trial.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986).
An issue of material fact is genuine if there is sufficient
evidence of a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the
non-moving party. Thomas v. Ponder, 611 F.3d 1144,
1150 (9th Cir. 2010). The non-moving party cannot rely on
conelusory allegations alone to create an issue of material
fact. Hansen v. United States, 7 F.3d 137, 138 (9th
Cir. 1993). If the moving party meets its initial burden, the
non-moving party must then go beyond the pleadings and
"set forth specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial. "Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248(1986). The parties must support
assertions by citing to particular parts of the record or
show that the materials cited do not establish the absence or
presence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c). However, a court may neither weigh the evidence nor
assess credibility; instead, "the evidence of the
non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences
are to be drawn in his favor. "Anderson, 477
U.S. at 255; see also Cortez v. Skol, 776 F.3d 1046,
1050 (9th Cir. 2015).
addition to showing there are no questions of material fact,
the moving party must also show it is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law. Smith v. Univ. of Wash. Law Sch.,
233 F.3d 1188, 1193 (9th Cir. 2000). The moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law when the non-moving
party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential
element of a claim on which the non-moving party has the
burden of proof. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.
considering a motion for summary judgment, a court may
neither weigh the evidence nor assess credibility; instead,
"the evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and
all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his
favor." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. When parties
file simultaneous cross-motions for summary judgment, the
court reviews each motion and the appropriate evidentiary
material identified in support of the motion separately,
giving the nonmoving party for each motion the benefit of all
reasonable inferences. Brunozzi v. Cable Commc'ns,
Inc., 851 F.3d 990, 995 (9thCir. 2017).
Eighth Amendment guarantees that an incarcerated person be
free from cruel and unusual punishment during their term of
confinement. This protection extends to guarantee
prisoners' right to adequate medical treatment while
incarcerated. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-05
(1976). This right is violated when a prison official acts
with deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of
a prisoner. Id. A prisoner has a serious medical
need if he has "an injury that a reasonable doctor or
patient would find important and worthy of comment or
treatment; the presence of a medical condition that
significantly affects an individual's daily activities;
or the existence of chronic and substantial pain."
McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059-60 (9th Cir.
1992), overruled on other grounds by WMXTech., Inc. v.
Miller, 104 F.3d 1133 (9th Cir. 1997).
order to state an Eighth Amendment claim under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, a prisoner must satisfy a two-part test.
Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1057 (9th Cir.
2004). First, the prisoner must demonstrate that the prison
official objectively deprived him of the "minimal
civilized measure of life necessities. "Id.
This element is satisfied if the prisoner shows the risk
posed by the deprivation is obvious. Thomas v.
Ponder, 611 F.3d 1144, 1150 (9th Cir. 2010). Second, the
prisoner must show that the prisoner official acted with
deliberate indifference in depriving the prisoner of medical
attention. Id. A prison official acts with
deliberate indifference if the official knows of and
disregards an excessive risk to inmate health and safety.
Id. A defendant must purposefully ignore or fail to
respond to a prisoner's pain or possible medical need in
order to establish deliberate indifference.
McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1060. In addition, the inmate
must show that the prison official had no reasonable
justification for their actions in light of the risk posed to
the inmate. Thomas, 611 F.3d at 1150; Jett v.
Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006) (finding
deliberate indifference where a prison doctor failed to
ensure that plain tiff prisoner received necessary orthopedic
care for a broken thumb, causing the fracture to not heal
of the basis for an Eighth Amendment claim, "vague and
conclusory allegations of official participation in civil
rights violates are not sufficient to withstand" a
motion for summary judgment for failure to state a cognizable
claim. Ivey v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. of Alaska,
673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982); see, e.g., Evans v.
Skolnik, 673 F. App'x285, 288 (9th Cir. 2015)
(citing Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 860 (9th
Cir. 2003)) ("an allegation that a prison official
inappropriately denied or failed to adequately respond to a
grievance, without more, does not state a claim under §