United States District Court, D. Colorado
ORDER ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S FEBRUARY 14,
2019 RECOMMENDATION AND GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
WILLIAM J. MARTINEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Christopher Cox (“Cox”) is an inmate in the
custody of the Colorado Department of Corrections
(“CDOC”). Acting as his own attorney, he has sued
Steve Owens (“Owens”), Warden of the Colorado
State Penitentiary (“CSP”); Dr. Richard Hodge
(“Dr. Hodge”), a physician who sees patients at
CSP; and “Physicians Health Partners, Insur.”
(“PHP”), an entity that acts somewhat like a
health insurance administrator for CDOC. Cox complains that
he has received constitutionally inadequate treatment for a
hernia, in violation of the Eighth Amendment's
prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.
and Dr. Hodge moved to dismiss Cox's claims against them.
(ECF No. 30.) The Court referred the motion to U.S.
Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix for a recommended
disposition. (ECF No. 31.) Now before the Court is Judge
Mix's February 14, 2019 recommendation that the motion be
granted (“Recommendation”). (ECF No. 50.) The
Recommendation is incorporated herein by reference.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B); Fed.R.Civ.P.
72(b). Cox has objected to the Recommendation. (ECF No. 56.)
For the reasons explained below, the Court will overrule
these objections and adopt the Recommendation in full.
magistrate judge issues a recommendation on a dispositive
matter, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b)(3) requires
that the district judge “determine de novo any part of
the magistrate judge's [recommendation] that has been
properly objected to.” An objection to a recommendation
is properly made if it is both timely and specific.
United States v. One Parcel of Real Property Known as
2121 East 30th St., 73 F.3d 1057, 1059 (10th Cir. 1996).
An objection is sufficiently specific if it “enables
the district judge to focus attention on those issues-factual
and legal-that are at the heart of the parties'
dispute.” Id. In conducting its review,
“[t]he district court judge may accept, reject, or
modify the recommendation; receive further evidence; or
return the matter to the magistrate judge with
absence of a timely and specific objection, “the
district court may review a magistrate . . . [judge's]
report under any standard it deems appropriate.”
Summers v. Utah, 927 F.2d 1165, 1167 (10th Cir.
1991) (citing Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150
(1985)); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b) advisory
committee's note (“When no timely objection is
filed, the court need only satisfy itself that there is no
clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the
time this lawsuit began, Cox was an inmate at CSP in
Cañon City, Colorado. (ECF No. 50 at 2.) He developed
a hernia there. (Id. at 3.) Dr. Hodge recommended
surgery but Defendant PHP declined Dr. Hodge's
authorization request due to a policy that deemed hernia
surgery to be elective unless the hernia is strangulated or
incarcerated. (Id.) Apparently Cox's hernia is
not strangulated or incarcerated (he does not allege that it
is either) because Dr. Hodge then began treating Cox with a
hernia belt and stool softeners. (Id.) Cox alleges
that this approach has been ineffective to relieve the
sued Owens (CSP's warden) in his individual and official
capacities; Dr. Hodge in his individual and official
capacities; and PHP. Owens, in his individual capacity, was
previously dismissed (ECF No. 19), so he remains a defendant
only in his official capacity-or in other words, only for
purposes of potential injunctive relief.
long after this lawsuit started, Cox was transferred to the
Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility (“AVCF”) in
Ordway, Colorado. (ECF No. 50 at 2.)
General Eighth Amendment Principles
brings this lawsuit under the Eighth Amendment, which
protects against the infliction of “cruel and unusual
punishment.” U.S. Const. amend. VIII. The Eighth
Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual
punishment encompasses deliberate indifference by prison
officials to objectively serious medical needs. Estelle
v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105 (1976). Objectively serious
medical needs are those that have “been diagnosed by a
physician as mandating treatment or [are] so obvious that
even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity for a
doctor's attention.” Al- Turki v.
Robinson, 762 F.3d 1188, 1192-93 (10th Cir. 2014)
(internal quotation marks omitted). A prison official is
deliberately indifferent to such a need when the official
“knows of and disregards [the medical need]; the
official must both be aware of facts from which the inference
could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm
exists, and he must also draw the inference.”
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994).