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Hernandez v. Aranas

United States District Court, D. Nevada

August 29, 2019

ROMEO ARANAS, et al., Defendants.



         I. SUMMARY

         Plaintiff Inginio Hernandez sued medical personnel and officials at Ely State Prison (“ESP”) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging they were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment because of the way they treated his complaints of pain in his back, neck, and finger. (ECF No. 7 at 3-5, 6-7.) Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Carla B. Carry (ECF No. 91) (“R&R” or “Recommendation”) regarding Defendants' motion for summary judgment (“Motion”) (ECF No. 59).[1] Plaintiff filed an objection (ECF No. 92), [2] and Defendants responded (ECF No. 94). The R&R recommends granting Defendant's Motion. (ECF No. 91 at 9.) Following a de novo review of the R&R, the Motion, and related briefing and exhibits, the Court agrees with Judge Carry's analysis, and will therefore accept and adopt the R&R in full, and overrule Plaintiff's objection.


         Judge Carry recommends granting Defendant's Motion on the grounds that: (1) she could not conclude that the treatment choices Defendants made regarding Plaintiff's pain in his back and shoulders were medically unacceptable or made in conscious disregard of an excessive risk to Plaintiff's health; and (2) Plaintiff's injury to his little finger did not rise to the level of an objectively significant medical need requiring treatment to avoid serious further injury. (ECF No. 91 at 8, 9.)

         A. Legal Standards

         1. Review of Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation

         This Court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Where a party timely objects[3] to a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, then the Court is required to “make a de novo determination of those portions of the [report and recommendation] to which objection is made.” Id. In light of Plaintiff's objection, the Court will engage in a de novo review to determine whether to adopt Magistrate Judge Carry's R&R.

         2. Summary Judgment

         “The purpose of summary judgment is to avoid unnecessary trials when there is no dispute as to the facts before the court.” Nw. Motorcycle Ass'n v. U.S. Dep't of Agric., 18 F.3d 1468, 1471 (9th Cir. 1994). Summary judgment is appropriate when the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits “show there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986). An issue is “genuine” if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis on which a reasonable fact-finder could find for the nonmoving party and a dispute is “material” if it could affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986). Where reasonable minds could differ on the material facts at issue, however, summary judgment is not appropriate. See Id. at 250-51. “The amount of evidence necessary to raise a genuine issue of material fact is enough ‘to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial.'” Aydin Corp. v. Loral Corp., 718 F.2d 897, 902 (9th Cir. 1983) (quoting First Nat'l Bank v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 288-89 (1968)). In evaluating a summary judgment motion, a court views all facts and draws all inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Kaiser Cement Corp. v. Fishbach & Moore, Inc., 793 F.2d 1100, 1103 (9th Cir. 1986).

         The moving party bears the burden of showing that there are no genuine issues of material fact. See Zoslaw v. MCA Distrib. Corp., 693 F.2d 870, 883 (9th Cir. 1982). Once the moving party satisfies Rule 56's requirements, the burden shifts to the party resisting the motion to “set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256. The nonmoving party “may not rely on denials in the pleadings but must produce specific evidence, through affidavits or admissible discovery material, to show that the dispute exists, ” Bhan v. NME Hosps., Inc., 929 F.2d 1404, 1409 (9th Cir. 1991), and “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Orr v. Bank of Am., 285 F.3d 764, 783 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)). “The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's position will be insufficient.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

         B. Discussion

         Plaintiff generally objects to Judge Carry's Recommendation that summary judgment be granted in Defendants' favor because Defendants did not respond reasonably to Plaintiff's ongoing pain and suffering. (ECF No. 93 at 3.) Plaintiff further repeats his argument from the underlying briefing that Defendants did not offer him treatments that would eliminate the causes of his pain rather than just treating the pain. (Id. at 10.) He also argues that Defendants should have inquired further to determine the sources of his pain, pointing out that other courts have found deliberate indifference when doctors either did not investigate complaints of pain or declined to perform tests suggested by symptoms that would have led a doctor to find the cause of those symptoms. (Id. at 11-14.)

         Defendants counter that Plaintiff's objection to the R&R should be overruled because they “supported their MSJ with evidence showing (1) NDOC [Nevada Department of Corrections] physicians determined in 2012 that Plaintiff was malingering back and shoulder pain, and (2) NDOC medical staff determined Plaintiff's pinky finger was not injured.” (ECF No. 94 at 3.) They further argue that Plaintiff was examined 85 times, and treated, for his back and shoulder pain between 2011 and 2017. Defendants also argue that Plaintiff presented no ...

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