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Skinner v. Haley

United States District Court, D. Nevada

September 26, 2019

MIKE HALEY, et al., Defendants.



         This Report and Recommendation is made to the Honorable Miranda M. Du, United States District Judge. The action was referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and the Local Rules of Practice, LR 1B 1-4.

         Before the court is Defendants' Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF Nos. 116, 117, 117-1 to 117-10.) Plaintiff filed a response. (ECF No. 119.) Defendants filed a reply. (ECF No. 120.)

         After a thorough review, it is recommended that Defendants' motion be granted because Plaintiff failed to exhaust available administrative remedies.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is an inmate in the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC), but the alleged events giving rise to this action occurred while Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee at the Washoe County Detention Facility (WCDF). He is proceeding pro se with this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Compl., ECF No. 6.) On screening, Plaintiff was allowed to proceed with an Eighth Amendment deliberate difference claim against Nurse Rene Pfister and Nurse Danelli Taylor (referred to in the complaint as "Valentine"). Defendants are former employees of Corizon, LLC, a private corporation that provided medical care to certain inmates in Nevada. (ECF Nos. 5, 9.)

         Plaintiff alleges Defendants were aware he suffered from Crohn's disease; that after a day of symptoms his request to be seen by a doctor was denied; and that his continued requests for treatment due to worsening pain continued to be ignored. As a result of the lack of treatment, Plaintiff alleges he suffered an intestinal rupture, which required surgery and a 21-day hospital stay.

         Defendants previously moved for summary judgment. Magistrate Judge Valerie P. Cooke, who was assigned to the case at the time, recommended that summary judgment be granted in Defendants' favor because Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. (ECF No. 53.) District Judge Miranda M. Du adopted and accepted the report and recommendation. (ECF No. 57.) Plaintiff appealed. (ECF No. 59.) The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stated that it was undisputed that Plaintiff did not file a grievance related to his claims; however, it was unclear from the record when Skinner was aggrieved sufficiently to trigger the grievance deadline, and if he was, whether he was able to initiate the grievance process due to his illness and subsequent hospitalization, citing Marella v. Terhune, 568 F.3d 1024, 1027 (9th Cir. 2009). As a result, the Ninth Circuit vacated and remanded for the court to consider these issues. (ECF No. 70.)

         The case was subsequently assigned to Magistrate Judge Carly B. Carry upon Magistrate Judge Cooke's retirement. (ECF No. 94.) Then, the case was reassigned to the undersigned as magistrate judge. (ECF No. 96.)

         Defendants have filed a Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment arguing: (1) administrative remedies were available to Plaintiff and he failed to exhaust prior to bringing this action; and (2) Defendants were not deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical needs.


         The legal standard governing this motion is well settled: a party is entitled to summary judgment when “the movant shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Cartrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). An issue is “genuine” if the evidence would permit a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). A fact is “material” if it could affect the outcome of the case. Id. at 248 (disputes over facts that might affect the outcome will preclude summary judgment, but factual disputes which are irrelevant or unnecessary are not considered). On the other hand, where reasonable minds could differ on the material facts at issue, summary judgment is not appropriate. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250.

         “The purpose of summary judgment is to avoid unnecessary trials when there is no dispute as to the facts before the court.” Northwest Motorcycle Ass'n v. U.S. Dep't of Agric., 18 F.3d 1468, 1471 (9th Cir. 1994) (citation omitted); see also Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24 (purpose of summary judgment is "to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims"); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252 (purpose of summary judgment is to determine whether a case "is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law"). In considering a motion for summary judgment, all reasonable inferences are drawn in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. In re Slatkin, 525 F.3d 805, 810 (9th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted); Kaiser Cement Corp. v. Fischbach & Moore Inc., 793 F.2d 1100, 1103 (9th Cir. 1986). That being said, "if the evidence of the nonmoving party "is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-250 (citations omitted). The court's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth or to make credibility determinations. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 249, 255; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249.

         In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the 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 [dispute] of fact on each issue material to its case.” C.A.R. Transp. Brokerage Co. v. Darden Rest., Inc., 213 F.3d 474, 480 (9th Cir. 2000) (internal 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 cannot establish an element essential to that party's case on which that party will have the burden of proof at trial. See Celotex Corp. v. Cartrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-25 (1986).

         If the moving party satisfies its initial burden, the burden shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine dispute exists as to a material fact. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The opposing party need not establish a genuine dispute of material 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 truth at trial.” T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987) (quotation marks and citation omitted). The nonmoving party cannot avoid summary judgment by relying solely on conclusory allegations that are unsupported by factual data. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. Instead, the ...

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