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Vela v. Bannister

United States District Court, D. Nevada

January 23, 2015

RAMIRO VELA, Plaintiff,
v.
R. BANNISTER, et al., Defendants

For Ramiro Vela, Plaintiff: Northern Nevada Correctional Center, LEAD ATTORNEY.

For Lisa Walsh, R. Bannister, Defendants: Andrea Barraclough, LEAD ATTORNEY, .Nevada Attorney General's Office, Carson City, NV.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

VALERIE P. COOKE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

This Report and Recommendation is made to the Honorable Robert C. Jones, United States District Judge. The action was referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and LR IB 1-4. Before the court is defendants' motion for summary judgment (#30), plaintiff's opposition (#37), and defendants' reply (#39). Having thoroughly reviewed the record and papers, the court recommends that defendants' motion be granted.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Ramiro Vela (" plaintiff") is an inmate in the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections (" NDOC"). Presently, plaintiff is incarcerated at Northern Nevada Correctional Center (" NNCC") in Carson City, Nevada. Acting pro se, plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint against several NNCC and NDOC officials on August, 27, 2013 (#6). On September 25, 2013, the court screened the complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A (#7). Under the Screening Order, plaintiff was permitted to proceed in this action on Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claims against three prison officials (together, " defendants"): NDOC Medical Director Dr. R. Bruce Bannister (" Bannister"); NNCC Physician Dr. Marsha Johns (" Johns"); and NNCC Associate Warden Lisa Walsh (" Walsh"). (#7 at 4).

The essence of plaintiff's complaint is that Bannister and Johns denied him proper medical care for his degenerative hip and back conditions by prescribing " placebo" medications for his hypertension. (#6 at 4-5). He alleges that he was prescribed Losartan Potassium in place of Micardis due to the cost of the latter medication. (Id.). Upon the " overruling" of this prescription change by NNCC Physcian Dr. Karen Gedney, plaintiff alleges that Bannister and Walsh delayed the required administrative approval for plaintiff to resume Micardis for over five months. (Id.).

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment allows the court to avoid unneeded trials. Nw. Motorcycle Ass'n v. U.S. Dep't of Agric., 18 F.3d 1468, 1471 (9th Cir. 1994). The court properly grants summary judgment when the record discovered by the parties demonstrates that " there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). " [T]he substantive law will identify which facts are material. Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248-49, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A dispute is " genuine" only where a reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party. Id. Therefore, conclusory statements, speculative opinions, pleading allegations, or other assertions uncorroborated by facts are insufficient to establish a genuine dispute. Nelson v. Pima Cmty. Coll., 83 F.3d 1075, 1081-82 (9th Cir. 1996). At this stage, the court's role is to verify that reasonable minds could differ when interpreting the record; the court does not weigh the evidence or determine its truth. See Schmidt v. Contra Costa Cnty., 693 F.3d 1122, 1132 (9th Cir. 2012); Nw. Motorcycle Ass'n, 18 F.3d at 1472.

Summary judgment proceeds in burden-shifting steps. A moving party who does not bear the burden of proof " need only prove that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case[, ]" In re Oracle Corp. Sec. Litig., 627 F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010), and such a party may additionally produce evidence that negates an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim or defense, Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Cos., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000). Ultimately, the moving party must demonstrate, on the basis of authenticated evidence, that the record forecloses the possibility of a reasonable jury finding in favor of the nonmoving party as to disputed material facts. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323; Orr v. Bank of Am., NT & SA, 285 F.3d 764, 773 (9th Cir. 2002). The court views all evidence and any inferences arising therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Colwell v. Bannister, 763 F.3d 1060, 1065 (9th Cir. 2014).

Where the moving party meets its burden, the nonmoving party must " designate specific facts demonstrating the existence of genuine issues for trial. This burden is not a light one." In re Oracle Corp., 627 F.3d at 387 (internal citation omitted). " The non-moving party must show more than the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence. . . . In fact, the non-moving party must come forth with evidence from which a jury could reasonably render a verdict in the non-moving party's favor." Id. (internal citations omitted). The nonmoving party may defeat the summary judgment motion only by setting forth specific facts that illustrate a genuine dispute that requires a factfinder's resolution. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 248; Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. Although the nonmoving party need not produce authenticated evidence, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), mere assertions, pleading allegations, and " metaphysical doubt as to the material facts" will not defeat a properly-supported and meritorious summary judgment motion, Orr, 285 F.3d at 783.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Civil Rights Claims Under § 1983

42 U.S.C. § 1983 aims " to deter state actors from using the badge of their authority to deprive individuals of their federally guaranteed rights." Anderson v. Warner, 451 F.3d 1063, 1067 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting McDade v. West, 223 F.3d 1135, 1139 (9th Cir. 2000)). The statute " provides a federal cause of action against any person who, acting under color of state law, deprives another of his federal rights[, ]" Conn v. Gabbert, 526 U.S. 286, 290, 119 S.Ct. 1292, 143 L.Ed.2d 399 (1999), and is " merely . . . the procedural device for enforcing substantive provisions of the Constitution and federal statutes, " Crumpton v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991). Claims under § 1983 require the plaintiff to allege (1) the violation of a federally-protected right by (2) a person or official who acts under the color of state law. Warner, 451 ...


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