Martinez v. Davey

Filing 27

ORDER Dismissing Second Amended Complaint without Leave to Amend, Clerk to Close Case, signed by Magistrate Judge Michael J. Seng on 9/29/17. CASE CLOSED. (Gonzalez, R)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 8 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 9 10 RICARDO MARTINEZ, 11 Plaintiff, 12 13 v. D. DAVEY, et al., 14 Defendants. CASE No. 1:16-cv-1658-MJS (PC) ORDER DISMISSING SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF NO. 23) CLERK TO CLOSE CASE 15 16 Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in a civil rights 17 action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has consented to the jurisdiction of a 18 magistrate judge. (ECF No. 9.) Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint is before the 19 Court for screening. 20 I. Screening Requirement 21 The in forma pauperis statute provides, “Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any 22 portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if 23 the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which 24 relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). 25 II. Pleading Standard 26 Section 1983 “provides a cause of action for the deprivation of any rights, 27 privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” 28 Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). 1 1 Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for 2 vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 3 (1989). 4 To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: 5 (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated and 6 (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state 7 law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Ketchum v. Alameda Cnty., 811 F.2d 8 1243, 1245 (9th Cir. 1987). 9 A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that 10 the pleader is entitled to relief . . . .” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations 11 are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, 12 supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 13 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). 14 Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief 15 that is plausible on its face.” Id. Facial plausibility demands more than the mere 16 possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are 17 accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 677-78. 18 III. Relevant Procedural Background 19 Plaintiff initiated this action on June 20, 2016, in the Northern District of California 20 asserting claims arising under the First, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments 21 based on conduct occurring at California State Prison (“CSP”) in Corcoran, California. 22 Plaintiff named D. Davey, the CSP Warden; the unidentified Chief Medical Officer at 23 CSP; and approximately 27 Doe Defendants. Upon review of the allegations asserted in 24 the complaint, the case was transferred to this court on November 2, 2016. (ECF No. 7.) 25 On January 4, 2017, Plaintiff’s complaint was dismissed for failure to state a 26 claim. His allegations were found woefully insufficient to state a cognizable claim, and 27 the undersigned declined to review the 150 pages of attachments to his complaint to 28 determine if they included facts giving rise to a cognizable cause of action. (ECF No. 11.) 2 1 Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint was then screened on April 7, 2017. (ECF No. 2 20.) There, Plaintiff asserted a number of unrelated claims against D. Davey, a warden 3 whom Plaintiff no longer associated with CSP (instead, with California Substance Abuse 4 Treatment Facility / State Prison in Corcoran, California (“CSATF”)); Dr. Scharffenberg, a 5 primary care physician (“PCP”) at CSATF; Dr. J. Lewis, the Deputy Director of an 6 unspecified department / agency; and the Federal Receiver “who controls the prison’s 7 medical care.” That pleading was also dismissed, though this time for failure to comply 8 with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20’s joinder requirement since it included a number 9 of claims that did not arise from the same or a related transaction. In addition, Plaintiff’s 10 allegations against Warden Davey, Dr. Lewis, and the Federal Receiver were dismissed 11 for failure to link these Defendants to any deprivation of Plaintiff’s rights. 12 IV. Plaintiff’s Allegations 13 In the Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff brings suit against D. Davey, the 14 Warden now again associated with CSP; Dr. Anthony Enenmoh, a physician at CSP; Dr. 15 Edgar Clark, a physician at CSP; Dr. Scharffenberg, Plaintiff’s PCP at CSATF; Dr. J. 16 Lewis, the Deputy Director of an unspecified department / agency; L.W. Muniz, Warden 17 of Salinas Valley State Prison (“SVSP”) in Soledad, California; E. Gitova, a nurse at 18 SVSP; Dr. Lawrence Gamboa; and the Federal Receiver “who controls the prison’s 19 medical care.” 20 As with his First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff’s operative pleading includes a 21 number of unrelated allegations, some of which are summarized here to demonstrate 22 how distinct they are: 23 A. Allegations against Dr. Scharffenberg 24 On December 12, 2015, Dr. Scharffenberg denied a recommendation from a 25 neurosurgeon specializing in spinal cord tumors. In addition, Plaintiff alleges, but without 26 relevant supporting facts, that Dr. Scharffenberg failed to (1) provide an MRI of Plaintiff’s 27 cervical spine, (2) perform a second MRI to the lumbar spine, (3) provide a wedge pillow, 28 (4) provide a Tens unit for pain relief as ordered by neurosurgeon specialists, (5) provide 3 1 for a pulmonary specialist, (6) remove cataracts, (7) provide a wheelchair, and (8) 2 provide a CT scan of Plaintiff’s abdomen and pelvis. 3 B. Allegations against Nurse Gitova and John Doe 4 On September 18, 2016, Plaintiff submitted a sick call to Nurse Gitova for trouble 5 breathing with severe chest pain. Plaintiff also requested that his sugar levels be 6 checked and for “emergency additional medical services.” Instead of treating Plaintiff, 7 Nurse Gitova directed that he be returned to his cell. 8 When Plaintiff was placed in waist restraints for the cell return, he fainted and fell. 9 John Doe, an individual employed in the medical triage, applied a treatment of ammonia 10 on the side of Plaintiff’s nose to revive him. This caused a severe burn on the inside and 11 outside of Plaintiff’s nose. Plaintiff was then returned, unresponsive, to his assigned bed. 12 C. Allegations against Warden Muniz 13 On November 28, 2016, Plaintiff accidentally spilled coffee. When Plaintiff went to 14 get a towel to wipe the spill, he returned to find another inmate cleaning it. Plaintiff 15 alleges his right of access to the courts was somehow denied by Warden Muniz in the 16 context of this incident. 17 In September 2016, October 2016, and January 2017, Plaintiff submitted requests 18 for an Olsen review of his health records. Warden Muniz allegedly failed to provide these 19 records. 20 D. 21 On December 26, 2016, Plaintiff was escorted to the shower by a female 22 correctional officer. Once there, Plaintiff tripped and fell. He previously informed “health 23 care” about his high risk of falling, but “health care” failed to “provide for, of services and 24 treatments.” Plaintiff also partially blames the fall on incorrect waist handcuffs placed 25 upon him by the female correctional officer. 26 27 Allegations against Doe Defendants At the central triage, the examining doctor declined to provide an x-ray or other exam to find the source of Plaintiff’s numbness and severe pain. 28 4 1 E. 2 On January 30, 2017, Dr. Gamboa denied Plaintiff health care, including a 3 Allegations against Dr. Gamboa contrast MRI of the lumbar spine. 4 F. 5 Although Dr. Enenmoh and Dr. Clark were made aware of Plaintiff’s risk of falling, 6 Allegations against Dr. Edgar Clark and Dr. Enenmoh safety procedures were not implemented to reduce the risk. 7 G. 8 Though not entirely clear, Plaintiff accuses Warden Davey of interfering with 9 10 Plaintiff’s right of access to the courts in the context of an administrative appeal that had blue color ink on it. 11 12 13 Allegations against Warden Davey Plaintiff seeks unspecified relief. V. Analysis Plaintiff again brings a number of unrelated claims against named Defendants 14 and other individuals who, while not named in the caption, he apparently wishes to sue 15 as Defendants. Plaintiff was previously informed that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16 18(a) allows a party to “join, as independent or alternative claims, as many claims as it 17 has against an opposing party.” However, Rule 20(a)(2) permits a plaintiff to sue multiple 18 defendants in the same action only if “any right to relief is asserted against them jointly, 19 severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, 20 occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences,” and there is a “question of law or 21 fact common to all defendants.” “Thus multiple claims against a single party are fine, but 22 Claim A against Defendant 1 should not be joined with unrelated Claim B against 23 Defendant 2. Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits ...” 24 George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g)). 25 Though Plaintiff’s claims relate, generally, to his medical needs, the specific 26 instances described do not arise from the same or even a related transaction so as to be 27 brought in a single lawsuit. Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint will therefore be 28 dismissed. 5 1 Plaintiff was previously informed that if he chose to amend his complaint, he 2 would have to file a proper pleading that complied with the standards spelled out for him; 3 he would also have to decide which transaction or occurrence he wished to pursue in the 4 action. Plaintiff has not done so. Moreover, Plaintiff generally fails to include facts linking 5 Defendants to a violation of his constitutional rights. 6 The Court must now determine whether to allow Plaintiff leave to further amend. 7 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) provides that “a party may amend its pleading 8 only with the opposing party’s written consent or the court’s leave. The court should 9 freely grant leave when justice so requires.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). When determining 10 whether to grant leave to amend, courts weigh certain factors: “undue delay, bad faith or 11 dilatory motive on the part of [the party who wishes to amend a pleading], repeated 12 failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the 13 opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, [and] futility of amendment [.]” 14 See Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). Although prejudice to the opposing party 15 “carries the greatest weight[,]...a strong showing of any of the remaining Foman factors” 16 can justify the denial of leave to amend. See Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 17 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003) (per curiam). Furthermore, analysis of these factors can 18 overlap. For instance, a party’s “repeated failure to cure deficiencies” constitutes “a 19 strong indication that the [party] has no additional facts to plead” and “that any attempt to 20 amend would be futile[.]” See Zucco Partners, LLC v. Digimarc Corp., 552 F.3d 981, 21 988, 1007 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted) (upholding dismissal of 22 complaint with prejudice when there were “three iterations of [the] allegations — none of 23 which, according to [the district] court, was sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss”); see 24 also Simon v. Value Behavioral Health, Inc., 208 F.3d 1073, 1084 (9th Cir. 2000) 25 (affirming dismissal without leave to amend where plaintiff failed to correct deficiencies in 26 complaint, where court had afforded plaintiff opportunities to do so, and had discussed 27 with plaintiff the substantive problems with his claims), amended by 234 F.3d 428, 28 overruled on other grounds by Odom v. Microsoft Corp., 486 F.3d 541, 551 (9th Cir. 6 1 2007); Plumeau v. Sch. Dist. # 40 Cnty. of Yamhill, 130 F.3d 432, 439 (9th Cir. 1997) 2 (denial of leave to amend appropriate where further amendment would be futile). 3 Plaintiff was previously informed of the prerequisites to assertion of a cognizable 4 claim or claims, of the need to limit his claims, and the need to include facts linking 5 specific Defendants to specific unconstitutional conduct. Plaintiff nevertheless not only 6 perpetuates the previous pleading problems, but he now adds new claims against 7 Defendants at different institutions. It is clear that the Court’s admonitions and 8 instructions have been ignored. No useful purpose would be served by giving them 9 again and inviting yet another attempt to comply. 10 11 VI. Conclusion Based on the foregoing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Second Amended 12 Complaint is DISMISSED without leave to amend. The Clerk of Court is directed to close 13 this case. 14 15 16 17 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: September 29, 2017 /s/ Michael J. Seng UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 7

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