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Estrada v. Neven

United States District Court, D. Nevada

May 13, 2014

WARDEN NEVEN, et al. Defendants.


JAMES C. MAHAN, District Judge.

Presently before the court is defendants' motion for summary judgment. (Doc. #31). Plaintiff has responded (doc. #34) and defendants have replied (doc. #37).

I. Background

Plaintiff alleges that physicians and other officials at High Desert State Prison ("HDSP") have refused to provide him with proper medical care, including pain medication he allegedly needs due to preexisting injuries.

On December 20, 2010, defendant Dr. Romeo Aranas performed a physical examination of plaintiff at HDSP. During the examination, plaintiff reported to Aranas a previous gunshot wound, a previous injury to his right foot, and claimed he suffered nerve damage to his foot, back, and the area around the gunshot wound. Plaintiff maintained that he had previously received pain medication three times per day while at the Clark County Detention Center to alleviate the pain. Plaintiff requested a prescription for Neurontin[1], which Aranas denied after conducting the physical examination and finding no abnormalities relative to plaintiff's claim of nerve damage.

On May 23, 2011, plaintiff was again examined by Aranas and again requested Neurontin. Aranas denied the request and told plaintiff that his physical condition did not necessitate Neurontin.

Plaintiff submitted medical grievances in response. The complaint alleges that defendants Morrow, Neven, Bannister, Jennings, and Adams were each involved in the denial of his grievances.

The complaint contains once claim for relief against all defendants asserting each was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

II. Legal Standard

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for summary adjudication when the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A principal purpose of summary judgment is "to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).

In determining summary judgment, a court applies a burden-shifting analysis. "When the party moving for summary judgment would bear the burden of proof at trial, it must come forward with evidence which would entitle it to a directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at trial. In such a case, the moving party has the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of fact on each issue material to its case." C.A.R. Transp. Brokerage Co. v. Darden Rests., Inc., 213 F.3d 474, 480 (9th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted).

In contrast, when the nonmoving party bears the burden of proving the claim or defense, the moving party can meet its burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence to negate an essential element of the nonmoving party's case; or (2) by demonstrating that the nonmoving party failed to make a showing sufficient to establish an element essential to that party's case on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323-24. If the moving party fails to meet its initial burden, summary judgment must be denied and the court need not consider the nonmoving party's evidence. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 159-60 (1970).

If the moving party satisfies its initial burden, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue of material fact exists. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). To establish the existence of a factual dispute, the opposing party need not establish a material issue of fact conclusively in its favor. It is sufficient that "the claimed factual dispute be shown to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial." T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. P. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 631 (9th Cir. 1987).

In other words, the nonmoving party cannot avoid summary judgment by relying solely on conclusory allegations that are unsupported by factual data. See Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Instead, the opposition must go beyond the assertions and allegations of the pleadings and set forth specific facts by producing ...

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