Peralta v. Dillard

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Rights § 1983
  • Date Filed: 01-07-2013
  • Case #: 09-55907
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Fernandez for the Court; District Judge Hernandez; Dissent by Circuit Judge Berzon
  • Full Text Opinion

The court may instruct the jury to consider the “duties, discretion and means available” to prison employees in determining whether the employee acted with deliberate indifference to a prisoner's medical needs.

Cion Adonis Peralta filed a claim against prison dentist Dr. Sheldon Brooks for deliberate indifference to his dental needs. Peralta was incarcerated and transferred to California State Prison, Lancaster on January 24, 2004. Peralta made oral and written requests to receive dental care for cavities and bleeding gums. Peralta was not examined until October 15, 2004 when Dr. Brooks only examined one tooth. Following several appeals, Peralta was examined again on January 25, 2005, and one final time on December 23, 2005. Peralta’s pain issues were not resolved at any of the visits. The jury returned a verdict for Dr. Brooks. Peralta challenged the jury instructions that instructed the jury to consider the resources available at the prison. Deliberate indifference is proved by showing (1) a serious medical need and (2) a deliberately indifferent response to the need. The second prong is proved by showing (a) a “purposeful act or failure to respond to a prisoner’s pain” and (b) that the indifference caused harm. The court may instruct the jury to consider the “duties, discretion and means available” to prison employees. In this case, the district court did not err in instructing the jury to consider whether Dr. Brooks had sufficient resources to provide an adequate level of care to Peralta. AFFIRMED.

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