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Theis v. Shearer

United States District Court, D. Montana, Missoula Division

August 28, 2018

CHARLES E. THEIS, Plaintiff,


          Jeremiah C. Lynch United States Magistrate Judge.

         Before the Court are Defendant Providence St. Joseph Medical Center's (“Providence”) Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 motion for summary judgment, and Defendant Joel Shearer's (“Shearer”) separate Rule 56 motion for summary judgment. Despite the extension of time the Court granted Plaintiff Charles Theis, appearing pro se, he has failed to file responses to the referenced motions. For the reasons discussed, the Court recommends the summary judgment motions be granted.

         I. Background

         This action has its genesis in events that allegedly occurred when Theis was incarcerated at the Lake County Detention Center in 2017. Shearer is a Captain employed at the detention center. Providence operates a health care facility, and it provides health care for individuals incarcerated at the detention center. Providence employs Lou Brenner, a physician's assistant, to provide medical treatment to those inmates.

         Primarily, Theis asserts he was deprived of adequate medical care during his incarceration in violation of his federal constitutional rights. Specifically, he alleges Shearer and Providence failed to provide him adequate medical care for a broken foot, an abscessed tooth, and broken teeth. He also alleges he experienced skin and respiratory problems due to mold at the facility.

         Theis further alleges his constitutional rights were violated in July, 2017, when correctional officers forced him, and other inmates, to crawl on their hands and knees at gun point. Finally, he advances a claim alleging Defendants are liable for negligence under Montana law.

         Theis's federal claims invoke the Court's subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. And the Court possesses supplemental jurisdiction over his negligence claims advanced under Montana law as provided by 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).

         II. Applicable Law

         A. Motion for Summary Judgment

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) entitles a party to summary judgment “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.” In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all justifiable inferences in the non-moving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Betz v. Trainer Wortham & Co., Inc., 504 F.3d 1017, 1020-21 (9th Cir. 2007).

         Once the moving party has satisfied its burden, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and designate by affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories, or admissions on file, “specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Cattrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). A party opposing summary judgment must identify evidence establishing that a dispute as to a particular material fact is genuine. Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).

         Theis's failure to respond to the summary judgment motions does not, by itself, provide the Court with authority to grant the motions. See Evans v. Independent Order of Foresters, 141 F.3d 931, 932 (9th Cir. 1998). Rather, the Court is independently obligated to “carefully evaluate[]” whether there exist genuine issues of material facts which would preclude summary judgment. See Cristobal v. Siegel, 26 F.3d 1488, 1495 n.4 (9th Cir. 1994). Even in the absence of a response from the non-moving party, the moving party still bears the burden of demonstrating its entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Id. Nonetheless, a court can grant an unopposed summary judgment motion if the movant's papers do not reveal a genuine issue of material fact, and are themselves sufficient to warrant summary judgment. United States v. Real Property Located at Incline Village, 47 F.3d 1511, 1520 ((9th Cir. 1995), rev'd on other grounds sub nom, Degen v. United States, 517 U.S. 820 (1996).

         B. Pro Se Pleadings

         Because Theis is proceeding pro se the Court must construe his pleading liberally, and “however inartfully pleaded, [it] must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers[.]” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citation omitted). See also Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). With respect to Defendants' summary judgment motions, the Court must afford ...

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