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Wright v. Hodge

United States District Court, D. Colorado

May 16, 2014

WILLIAM L. WRIGHT, Plaintiff(s),


MICHAEL J. WATANABE, Magistrate Judge.

This matter was referred to this court pursuant to an Order Referring Case issued by Judge Christine M. Arguello on January 25, 2013 (Docket No. 22).


The operative pleading is the Second Amended Prisoner Complaint (Docket No. 18) which is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. Only three of the six defendants named in that pleading, however, remain. (See Docket No. 20 dismissing defendant Carol Danforth as a party to this action and Docket No. 51 dismissing without prejudice all claims against defendants Bergondo and Frantz based upon plaintiff's failure to serve these defendants and failure to prosecute). Plaintiff alleges the following in that pleading with respect to the three remaining defendants, Dr. Hodge, Nurse Kathleen Boyd, and Judy Beeman.

On about September 30, 2009, plaintiff was told by medical staff that he was infected with Hepatitis C. While at the Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility, a doctor explained treatment for this disease using expensive anti-viral medications, interferon a/ribavrin, for 24 weeks. The doctor also explained that plaintiff would need to complete a modified drug/alcohol program before he was given the medication. Plaintiff completed that program on November 30, 2012. However, as of December 14, 2012, plaintiff had not been treated.

Defendant Hodge saw plaintiff at the Colorado State Penitentiary on August 4, 2011, at which time he denied plaintiff treatment. He continued to deny treatment even after he was aware of a December 15, 2011, e-mail (exhibit H - Docket No. 18 at 13) in which Paula Frantz opined that it was appropriate to waive the requirement of drug and alcohol treatment for plaintiff because there were no drug or alcohol needs. That e-mail was written in response to an inquiry by Dana Bustos as to whether there was any flexibility around the required alcohol and drug treatment. Defendant nurse Kathleen Boyd also told plaintiff he would not be treated until he completed six months of drug and alcohol treatment. There are memos in plaintiff's medical file written by defendant Judy Beeman of the Infectious Disease ("ID") Committee on May 14, 2011, and July 11, 2011, in which she says to deny plaintiff treatment. Defendants refused to treat plaintiff because he refused to do their drug/alcohol class again. (Docket No. 18 at 9).

This ordeal has been so mentally exhausting for plaintiff, causing his "depression to act up full tilt." (Docket No. 18 at 8). His nerves have been so affected that he has had nervous breakdowns and has been biting his fingers such that they would bleed until they are raw.

Plaintiff asserts that denial of medical treatment and medication for a chronic infectious disease is an Eighth Amendment violation of a prisoner's civil rights even if no prison official has "an improper, subjected stated of mind." (Docket No. 18 at 8). In addition, he asserts that refusing him treatment equals punishment without due process of law.

Plaintiff seeks declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief, including punitive damages.


Now before the court are cross-motions for summary judgment (Docket Nos. 59 and 65). Plaintiff's motion, however, appears to be a response to defendants' motion. Defendants have filed a response to plaintiff's motion. (Docket No. 71) which essentially merely reiterates defendants' arguments in support of their motion for summary judgment and provides the same attachments. The court has carefully reviewed these motion papers as well as applicable Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and case law. In addition, the court has taken judicial notice of the court file. The court now being fully informed, makes the following findings, conclusions of law, and recommendations.

Rule 56(a) provides that summary judgment shall be granted "if the movant shows that 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). "A party seeking summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, interrogatories, and admissions on file together with affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of genuine issues for trial." Robertson v. Board of County Comm'rs of the County of Morgan , 78 F.Supp.2d 1142, 1146 (D. Colo. 1999) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Mares v. ConAgra Poultry Co. , 971 F.2d 492, 494 (10th Cir. 1992)). "Once a properly supported summary judgment motion is made, the opposing party may not rest on the allegations contained in the complaint, but must respond with specific facts showing the existence of a genuine factual issue to be tried.... These facts may be shown by any of the kinds of evidentiary materials listed in Rule 56(c), except the mere pleadings by themselves.'" Southway v. Central Bank of Nigeria , 149 F.Supp.2d 1268, 1273 (D. Colo. 2001), aff'd, 328 F.3d 1267 (10th Cir. 2003).

"Summary judgment is also appropriate when the court concludes that no reasonable juror could find for the non-moving party based on the evidence presented in the motion and response." Id . "The operative inquiry is whether, based on all documents submitted, reasonable jurors could find by a preponderance of the evidence that the plaintiff is entitled to a verdict.... Unsupported allegations without any significant probative evidence tending to support the complaint' are insufficient... as are conclusory assertions that factual disputes exist." Id .; Robertson , 78 F.Supp.2d at 1146 (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986); quoting White v. York Int'l Corp. , 45 F.3d 357, 360 (10th Cir. 1995)). "Evidence presented must be based on more than mere speculation, conjecture, or surmise' to defeat a motion for summary judgment." Southway , 149 F.Supp.2d at 1274. "Summary judgment should not enter if, viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the non-moving party and drawing all reasonable inferences in that party's favor, a reasonable jury could return a verdict for that party." Id. at 1273.

Since the plaintiff is not an attorney, his pleading has been construed liberally and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. See Hall v. Bellmon , 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. ...

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