United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER ORDER GRANTING MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
WADDOUPST JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
Aaron David Trent Needham, asserts that Defendant, Sidney
Roberts, violated his right to be free of cruel and unusual
punishment under the Eighth Amendment to the United States
Constitution. See 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 (2019).
Specifically, he contends Defendant provided inadequate
medical care during his stay at Utah State Prison (USP).
(Doc. No. 37.) His claim is worded as follows in his Fourth
[P]etitioner's infections got worse as the reduction of
antibiotics by medical to 25% of the recommended dose by Dr.
Roberts kept petitioner sick during his time in the infirmary
so when he got to Baker Block another type of infection
attacked petitioner. Dr. Roberts spoke with petitioner's
doctors to verify medications and treatment that have
resulted in the loss of petitioner's right kidney.
(Id. at 12.) This is the sole language implicating
Defendant and it is therefore the only matter the Court will
address in this Order.
filed a Martinez report with medical and other
records and his declaration as to Plaintiff's treatment.
(Doc. No. 84-85 & 121-22.) Plaintiff's relevant
evidentiary response to the Martinez report consists
of copies of medical records, scattered throughout a variety
of documents and many of them duplicative of Defendant's
filings. (E.g., Doc. Nos. 92, 105, 120 & 124.) The Court
has examined them all thoroughly.
now moves for summary judgment on the basis of qualified
determining whether to grant summary judgment, this Court
must examine the evidence filed by the parties to determine
whether any genuine issues of material fact exist and, if
not, correctly apply relevant substantive law to the
undisputed facts. Grissom v. Roberts, 902 F.3d 1162,
1167 (10th Cir. 2018).
Individual defendants sued for damages under § 1983 may
raise a defense of qualified immunity. “Qualified
immunity attaches when an official's conduct does not
violate clearly established statutory or constitutional
rights of which a reasonable person would have known.”
Kisela v. Hughes, 138 S.Ct. 1148, 1152 (2018)
(internal quotation marks omitted). This standard arises from
balancing two important but contrary interests. On the one
hand, “an action for damages may offer the only
realistic avenue for vindication of constitutional
guarantees.” Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S.
800, 814 (1982). On the other hand, exposing public officials
to liability for damages presents its own “social
costs[, ] includ[ing] the expenses of litigation, the
diversion of official energy from pressing public issues, and
the deterrence of able citizens from acceptance of public
office.” Id. And, perhaps most significantly,
“there is the danger that fear of being sued will
dampen the ardor of all but the most resolute, or the most
irresponsible public officials, in the unflinching discharge
of their duties.” Id. (brackets and internal
quotation marks omitted).
“Because the focus is on whether the officer had fair
notice that her conduct was unlawful, reasonableness is
judged against the backdrop of the law at the time of the
conduct.” Kisela v. Hughes, 138 S.Ct. 1148,
1152 (2018) (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, when a
defendant has raised qualified immunity as a defense, the
plaintiff must establish (1) that the defendant's action
violated a federal constitutional or statutory right; and (2)
that the right violated was clearly established at the time
of the defendant's actions. See Thomson v. Salt Lake
City, 584 F.3d 1304, 1312 (10th Cir. 2009). Under this
test, “immunity protects all but the plainly
incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.”
Kisela, 138 S.Ct. at 1152 (internal quotation marks
The test imposes a “heavy two-part burden.”
Casey v. W. Las Vegas Indep. Sch. Dist., 473 F.3d
1323, 1327 (10th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks
omitted). If the plaintiff fails to satisfy either part of
the two-part inquiry, a court must grant the defendant
qualified immunity. See Medina v. Cram, 252 F.3d
1124, 1128 (10th Cir. 2001). The court has discretion to
decide which of the two prongs of the qualified-immunity
analysis to address first. See Pearson v. Callahan,
555 U.S. 223, 236 (2009). “If, and only if, the
plaintiff meets this two-part test does a defendant then bear
the traditional burden of the movant for summary
judgment....” Clark v. Edmunds, 513 F.3d 1219,
1222 (10th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Id. at 1167-68.
educate Plaintiff about his duty in responding to a
summary-judgment motion, the Court stated in an order,
Plaintiff is notified that if Defendant moves for summary
judgment Plaintiff may not rest upon the mere allegations in
Instead, as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
56(e), to survive a motion for summary judgment Plaintiff
must allege specific facts, admissible in evidence, showing
that there is a genuine issue remaining for trial.
(Doc. No. 10, at 5-6.)
on the undisputed material facts below, the Court concludes
that, under the qualified immunity defense, Plaintiff has not
established the first necessary prong of his burden: that
Defendant's actions violated a federal constitutional
Before arriving at USP, Plaintiff had been treated for
coccidioidomycosis (Disease) in St. George, Utah, at Dixie
Regional Medical Center (DRMC), by Dr. Jamal Horani,
infectious disease specialist. (Doc. No. 85-3, at 4.)
Disease is pulmonary- or hematogenous-disseminated disease
caused by the fungi Coccidioides immitis.
(Id.) Plaintiff was prescribed anti-fungal medicine
fluconazole (brand name: Diflucan) to treat Disease.
5/9/11 - Plaintiff's potential Disease symptoms treated
by Dr. Zahabia. (Doc. No. 85-1, at 2-4.)
4/17/12 - Dr. William Cobb's Out Patient Clinic Note
indicating Disease blood work done and Diflucan at 800MG per
day prescribed. (Id. at 67.)
7/17/12 - Dr. Horani's Out Patient Clinic Note indicating
Disease blood work done and Diflucan at 800MG per day
prescribed. (Id. at 65-66.)
10/18/12 - Dr. Horani's Outpatient Clinic Report
indicating Disease blood work done and Diflucan at 1000MG ...