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James v. Sherrod

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

December 5, 2017

MASALA M. JAMES, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM A. SHERROD, et al., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [DOC. NO. 72]

          BERNARD M. JONES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, Masala M. James, a California state prisoner appearing pro se, filed an Amended Complaint (Am. Comp.) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that while he was housed at North Fork Correctional Facility (NFCF), Defendants showed deliberate indifference to his serious medical condition [Doc. No. 19]. Chief United States District Judge Joe Heaton referred the matter for proceedings consistent with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), (C).[1]

         Plaintiff initially named five defendants; however, the Court has already dismissed Defendants Sherrod, Solis, and Defibaugh [Doc. No. 68]. Now pending before the Court is Defendant Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Dr. Keith Ivens'[2] Motion for Summary Judgment and Brief in Support (Defendants' Motion) [Doc. No. 72]. Plaintiff has filed an Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Plaintiff's Resp.) [Doc. No. 75] and the matter is at issue.[3] For the reasons set forth below, it is recommended that the Court grant Defendants' Motion on Plaintiff's deliberate indifference claim and enter judgment as a matter of law in their favor.[4] The Court should also dismiss, on screening, Plaintiff's conspiracy claim.

         I. Plaintiff's claims

         Plaintiff alleges that before his transfer to NFCF, he was diagnosed with Coccidioidomycosis, otherwise known as “valley fever” (hereinafter Valley Fever).[5] Am. Comp. at p. 4. Plaintiff was prescribed, in relevant part, Fluconazole. Id. According to Plaintiff, after he arrived at NFCF, officials were deliberately indifferent to his Valley Fever. Id., passim.

         Due to the Court's dismissal of Defendants Sherrod, Solis, and Defibaugh, Plaintiff's only remaining claims are against Defendants CCA and Ivens. Plaintiff does not make any specific allegations implicating Defendant CCA, except to suggest it had a responsibility to uphold its contractual commitments and follow the law. Id. at 4. As for Defendant Ivens, then Regional Medical Director for CCA, Plaintiff alleges the physician “ha[d] a mandate to NFCF medical personnel to prohibit inmate-patients [from receiving] fluconazole or any specialty-services, in relation to victim/patients exposed to valley fever.” Id. at p. 5 (emphasis in original).

         Finally, Plaintiff accuses Defendants of conspiring to violate his constitutional rights. Id. at p. 9.

         II. Analysis of Defendants' Summary Judgment Motion

         For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned recommends the Court grant Defendants' Motion.

         A. Standard for Review

         Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court shall grant summary judgment “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-323 (1986). Once a moving party shows it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to point out the specific facts that create disputed factual issues. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The nonmoving party must present some evidence, other than its initial pleadings, to show that there is more than just a “metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); see also Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324 (quoting Rule 56(e) (“Rule 56(e) . . . requires the nonmoving party to go beyond the pleadings and by her own affidavits, or by [other evidence] designate ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'”).

         To defeat a motion for summary judgment, evidence must be based on more than mere speculation, conjecture, or surmise. See Bones v. Honeywell Int'l, Inc., 366 F.3d 869, 875 (10th Cir. 2004). Conclusory allegations will not create a genuine issue of material fact defeating a summary judgment motion. See L&M Enter. Inc. v. BEI Sensors & Systems Co., 231 F.3d 1284, 1287 (10th Cir. 2000). In evaluating a motion for summary judgment, a district court must consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences from those facts in favor of that party. See Thomson v. Salt Lake Cnty., 584 F.3d 1304, 1312 (10th Cir. 2009). “However, because at summary judgment we are beyond the pleading phase of the litigation, a plaintiffs version of the facts must find support in the record: more specifically, as with any motion for summary judgment, when opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts.” Id. (quotations, brackets, and citation omitted).

         B. The Undisputed and Disputed Facts

         1.The Undisputed Facts

         Based on Defendants' Motion at pp. 7-14, ¶¶5-17, 20-22, 24, 26-31, 33-34, and Plaintiffs Response at pp. 2-3, the following material facts are undisputed:

• Plaintiff received an initial health screening in January 2013, upon his arrival at NFCF.
• On January 31, 2013, Dr. Eric Holt examined Plaintiff, noted his Valley Fever diagnosis, and ordered ...

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