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Jensen v. Garden

United States District Court, D. Utah

March 23, 2018

DR. RICHARD GARDEN, et al., Defendants.


          Jill N. Parrish United States District Court Judge

         District Judge Jill N. Parrish Before the court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by defendants Chad Duford and Richard Garden on June 23, 2017 (ECF No. 36). Plaintiff Michael Jensen, who proceeds pro se, filed a response on July 6, 2017 (ECF No. 40) and various other responses (ECF Nos. 42, 43, 50). The defendants replied on September 5, 2017 (ECF No. 44). For the reasons below, the defendants' motion is GRANTED.


         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), summary judgment is warranted when “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.” A dispute is genuine only if “a reasonable jury could find in favor of the nonmoving party on the issue.” Macon v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 743 F.3d 708, 712 (10th Cir. 2014). “In making this determination, ” the court must “view the evidence and draw reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Id. (citation omitted).

         However, when qualified immunity is presented at the summary judgment phase, the court must employ a different paradigm: “When a defendant asserts qualified immunity at summary judgment, the burden shifts to the plaintiff, who must clear two hurdles in order to defeat the defendant's motion.” Riggins v. Goodman, 572 F.3d 1101, 1107 (10th Cir. 2009). The plaintiff must show: “(1) the defendant violated a constitutional right and (2) the constitutional right was clearly established.” Panagoulakos v. Yazzie, 741 F.3d 1126, 1129 (10th Cir. 2013). This burden is a heavy one. See Albright v. Rodriguez, 51 F.3d 1531, 1534 (10th Cir. 1995).

         In qualified immunity cases, the requirement that the court view the evidence and draw inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party “usually means adopting . . . the plaintiff's version of the facts.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007) (citation omitted). However, “a plaintiff's version of the facts must find support in the record.” Thomson v. Salt Lake County, 584 F.3d 1304, 1312 (10th Cir. 2009). If the plaintiff's story 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. (citation omitted).

         If the plaintiff meets the requisite two-part burden by demonstrating the violation of a clearly established constitutional right, then the burden shifts to the defendant “to show that there are no disputes of material fact as to whether his conduct was objectively reasonable in light of clearly established law and the information known to the defendant at the time.” Felders ex rel. Smedley v. Malcom, 755 F.3d 870, 877 (10th Cir. 2014) (citation omitted). This showing is made under the traditional summary judgment standard. See id.


         Michael Jensen is an inmate at the Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah. At the time of Mr. Jensen's allegations, Dr. Garden was the Administrative and Clinical Director over health services for the Utah Department of Corrections. Mr. Duford was a Physician Assistant at the prison.

         On January 11, 2014, Mr. Jensen was working in the boiler operations department of the prison as a plumber when he heard a pop and felt pain in his shoulder. He immediately informed his supervisor, Jason Corey. Mr. Corey called the medical department and requested medical attention for Mr. Jensen. Mr. Corey also completed an Initial Contract Report documenting the injury.[2]

         On January 29, Mr. Jensen submitted an Inmate Care Request, which reads: “I would like to see a provider. My arm popped at work and it's not getting any better. Please [sic] see me on this matter. Thanks.”

         Mr. Jensen did not receive medical treatment until he was seen by Mr. Duford on February 3, 2014. On exam, Mr. Duford noted that Mr. Jensen had limited range of motion but good strength in his shoulder. He diagnosed Mr. Jensen with “UNSPECIFIED SITE OF SPRAIN AND STRAIN” and proscribed Naproxen tablets (500 mg, twice a day). He also referred Mr. Jensen to Bohn Bales for physical therapy with the following note: “Right shoulder strain, Mild pain with abduction. Please evaluate and treat.”

         Mr. Jensen attended physical therapy appointments with Mr. Bales on February 12, February 19, February 26, and March 5. On June 11, Mr. Jensen again saw Mr. Duford, who noted that Mr. Jensen's shoulder pain had not improved with anti-inflammatories and physical therapy. Mr. Duford then prescribed acetaminophen tablets (325 mg, twice a day) and referred Mr. Jensen to Joseph Coombs, PA, at the onsite orthopedic clinic. After that, Mr. Duford had no further role in treating Mr. Jensen's shoulder injury.

         On July 22, 2014, Mr. Coombs ordered an x-ray of Mr. Jensen's shoulder. And on August 6, Dr. Garden authorized an MRI. The x-ray was generally unremarkable, but the MRI revealed “a partial thickness tear bursal sided tear of the anterior supraspinatus tendon involving the anterior half of the ...

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