Righetti v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation et al

Filing 122

ORDER by Judge Edward M. Chen Granting in Part and Denying in Part 100 Plaintiff's Motion File Third Amended Complaint. (emcsec, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 4/16/2013)

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1 2 3 4 5 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 6 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 7 8 GERALD L. RIGHETTI, 9 Plaintiff, For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 11 12 13 No. C-11-2717 EMC v. CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION, et al., ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO FILE THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT (Docket No. 100) Defendants. ___________________________________/ 14 15 16 Plaintiff’s motion seeks leave of Court to amend his complaint against certain CDCR 17 employees and supervisors pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 15.1 See Motion for Leave to File Third 18 Amended Complaint (Docket No. 100). For the reasons stated on the record and in this order, 19 Plaintiff’s motion for leave to file a third amended complaint is GRANTED in part and DENIED in 20 part. 21 As stated more fully on the record, Plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend his complaint 22 against Dr. Lee to allege deliberate indifference to serious medical needs is denied but leave is 23 granted to file a Fourth Amended Complaint stating additional facts. At oral argument, Plaintiff’s 24 counsel represented that they had located credible evidence supporting their allegation that Dr. Lee’s 25 “chosen course of treatment” for Mr. Righetti “was medically unacceptable under the circumstances, 26 27 28 1 Plaintiff seeks leave to amend his complaint against the following CDCR employees: Warden Michael Evans, Dr. Charles Dudley Lee, Nurse Kathleen Wall, Nurse Mark Hudson, and Nurse Peter Chalich. 1 and was chosen in conscious disregard of an excessive risk to the prisoner’s health.” Toguchi v. 2 Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1058 (9th Cir. 2004) (quoting Jackson v. McIntosh, 90 F.3d 330, 332 (9th 3 Cir. 1996) (quotation marks omitted)). While the burden remains a rigorous one, particularly in 4 light of the fact that other physicians had just concluded surgery was not warranted, the Court will 5 give Mr. Righetti one more opportunity to amend this claim. 6 However, Plaintiff’s remaining proposed amendments to the complaint fail to state valid 7 causes of action against the named Defendants under § 1983, and leave to amend these claims is 8 hereby denied. “Leave to amend need not be given” under Rule 15 if it would be futile to do so, 9 such as “if a complaint, as amended, is subject to dismissal.” Moore v. Kayport Package Exp., Inc., 885 F.2d 531, 538 (9th Cir. 1989). As stated more fully on the record, Plaintiff’s proposed §1983 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 claim against the other Defendants including Dr. Lee based on supervisory liability fails to identify a 12 specific policy or practice “so deficient that the policy itself is a repudiation of constitutional rights 13 and is the moving force of [Mr. Righetti’s] constitutional violation.” Jeffers v. Gomez, 267 F.3d 14 895, 914 (9th Cir. 2001) (citing Redman v. County of San Diego, 942 F.2d 1435, 1446 (9th Cir. 15 1991)) (internal quotations omitted). “Because vicarious liability is inapplicable to Bivens and § 16 1983 suits, a plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official’s 17 own individual actions, has violated the Constitution.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676. No 18 policy or practice liability may be found against a defendant where “there is no allegation of a 19 specific policy implemented by [a defendant] or a specific event or events instigated by [a defendant] 20 that led to [the] purportedly unconstitutional [conduct].” Hydrick v. Hunter, 669 F.3d 937, 942 (9th 21 Cir. 2012) (emphasis in original). 22 Likewise, Plaintiff’s proposed claim regarding the Defendants’ alleged failure to train or 23 supervise subordinates does not draw a causal connection between the Defendants’ alleged conduct 24 and the claimed violation of Mr. Righetti’s Eighth Amendment rights sufficient to state a cause of 25 action under § 1983. In order to state a viable claim based on a supervisor’s failure to train or 26 supervise a subordinate, a plaintiff must plead sufficient facts to show that each accused supervisor 27 “personally played a role in the alleged constitutional violations.” Menotti v. City of Seattle, 409 28 F.3d 1113, 1149 (9th Cir. 2005). “Government officials may not be held liable for the 2 1 unconstitutional conduct of their subordinates under a theory of respondeat superior.” Ashcroft v. 2 Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676. A complaint must go beyond a theory of respondeat superior and allege that 3 each named supervisor was either “personally involved in the constitutional deprivation” alleged or 4 that “there is a sufficient causal connection between the supervisor’s wrongful conduct and the 5 constitutional violation” in order to state a viable claim. Snow v. McDaniel, 681 F.3d at 989 6 (citations omitted). At most the allegations establish negligence in supervision that may have led to 7 torts, not constitutional violations. And unlike Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1207-08 (9th Cir. 8 2011), there are no plausible allegations of a widespread pattern of abuse of the kind inflicted upon 9 the Plaintiff known to or tolerated by the Defendant supervisors. Allegations that prior lawsuits were brought by inmates for Eighth Amendment violations, without any alleged actions 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 substantiating the claims made therein do not give rise to a plausible claim of supervisory liability. 12 For instance, there is no allegations that any of the suits resulted in a plaintiff’s verdict or findings of 13 violation. Nor has Plaintiff shown that the findings of deficiencies in Plata are causally related to 14 what happened to Mr. Righetti. 15 Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File a Third Amended Complaint is therefore GRANTED IN 16 PART. Plaintiff shall file his amended claims against Dr. Lee for deliberate indifference to serious 17 medical needs within 30 days. The remainder of Plaintiff’s motion is denied, and any further 18 attempt to amend the complaint against these named Defendants must be done through a new and 19 separate motion under Rule 15 if and when more substantial evidence is revealed. 20 This order disposes of Docket No. 100. 21 22 IT IS SO ORDERED. 23 24 Dated: April 16, 2013 _________________________ EDWARD M. CHEN United States District Judge 25 26 27 28 3

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