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Green v. High Desert State Prison Medical Department

United States District Court, D. Nevada

May 16, 2019

FREDERIC GREEN, Plaintiff
v.
HIGH DESERT STATE PRISON MEDICAL DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendant

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF NOS. 47, 52]

          ANDREW P. GORDON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Frederic Green sues Albert Buencamino, Romeo Aranas, George Leeks, and Gregory Bryan for violating his Eighth Amendment rights by acting deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. Green moves for summary judgment on his four remaining claims, arguing that he has presented sufficient evidence to prove his allegations. ECF No. 47. The defendants also move for summary judgment on the same four claims, arguing that the admissible evidence shows that Green did not have a serious medical need and that the defendants' responses to his medical needs were not deliberately indifferent. ECF No. 52. The defendants also argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity. Id.

         There are material questions of fact regarding the delays in providing Green with specialized care and his prescribed medication and whether those delays resulted in additional pain and damage to Green's eyes. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Green, a reasonable jury could find that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. Alternatively, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the defendants, a reasonable jury could find that the defendants were not deliberately indifferent to Green's medical needs. Additionally, when viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Green, the defendants' actions would be in clear violation of the Constitution and therefore not covered by qualified immunity. I therefore deny Green's motion for summary judgment and the defendants' motion for summary judgment on Counts III, IV, V, and VI.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY AND BACKGROUND

         In his amended complaint, Green sued multiple defendants for events that took place while he was incarcerated at High Desert State Prison (“HDSP”), alleging nine counts of deliberate indifference to medical needs. ECF No. 4 at 1-4. His claims arise from all the medical treatment he received for an ongoing eye irritation while in custody at HDSP. Id. In the screening order, I dismissed Counts I and IX. ECF No. 6. I subsequently dismissed Counts II, VII, and VIII upon Green's stipulation. ECF Nos. 61; 62. The four remaining counts are:

• Count III against Albert Buencamino, the Director of Nursing Services Level II for the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC), for disregarding Green's arguments during the grievance process on why his staff failed to refill Green's prescription after 60 days and 120 days (ECF No. 4 at 16);
• Count IV against Romeo Aranas, the Medical Director of the NDOC, for permitting his staff to disregard Green's medical needs and being unaware of the delay in Green's prescriptions (Id. at 17);
• Count V against George Leeks, an outside optometrist contracted by the NDOC, for deliberately disregarding Green's concerns about redness and irritation in his eye, failing to request a follow-up appointment with a specialist, and referring Green to an outside specialist for a second opinion regarding a scar in Green's retina even though Green informed Leeks that the scar was from a 20-year-old injury (Id. at 19);
• Count VI against Gregory Bryan, the Senior Physician at HDSP, for disregarding the seriousness of Green's medical needs and suggesting that Green use artificial tears for his eyes (Id. at 21).

         Both parties have now moved for summary judgment on Counts III-VI.[1] ECF Nos. 47; 52.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Legal Standards

         Summary judgment is appropriate if the movant shows “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), (c). A fact is material if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute is genuine if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.

         The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The burden then shifts to the non-moving party to set forth specific facts demonstrating there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Fairbank v. Wunderman Cato Johnson, 212 F.3d 528, 531 (9th Cir. 2000); Sonner v. Schwabe N. Am., Inc., 911 F.3d 989, 992 (9th Cir. 2018) (“To defeat summary judgment, the nonmoving party must produce evidence of a genuine dispute of material fact that could satisfy its burden at ...


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