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Uriarte v. Schwarzenegger

March 13, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Thomas J. Whelan United States District Judge


On August 2, 2006 Plaintiff Francisco Uriarte ("Plaintiff"), a state prisoner proceeding pro se, commenced this action alleging various constitutional, common law, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims. (Doc. No. 1.) On February 4, 2008 Magistrate Judge William McCurine, Jr. issued a Report and Recommendation ("Report") recommending that Defendant Arnold Schwarzenegger et. al.'s (collectively, "Defendants") motion to dismiss the complaint be granted in part and denied in part, and that Petitioner's motion for "summary judgment" be denied. (Doc. No. 57.) Both Plaintiff and Defendants submitted timely objections and replies. (Doc. Nos. 59, 60.) The Court decides the matter on the papers submitted and without oral argument. See S.D. Cal. Civ. R. 7.1(d.1). For the following reasons, the Court ADOPTS the Report, OVERRULES the parties' objections, GRANTS-IN-PART and DENIES-IN-PART Defendants' motion to dismiss, and DENIES Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. Nos. 43, 47, 57).


Plaintiff Francisco Uriarte is a state prisoner currently incarcerated at Ironwood State Prison in Blythe, California. (Report 1.) Defendants are a collection of people who are responsible or work for the California prison system. The following description of events is taken from the parties' pleadings and is not to be construed as findings of fact by the Court.

On February 7, 2004 Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Martinez ("Martinez") was working the prison's Building 13 tower panel, which controlled access into and out of prisoner cells. (Id. 2.) Plaintiff asserts that while he exited the open threshold of his cell, Martinez suddenly closed the sliding door, crushing Plaintiff between the cell door and the door jamb. (Id.) Although Plaintiff's cell-mate yelled at Martinez to open the door, Plaintiff contends that Martinez waited until he released all other inmates before doing so. (Id.) When Martinez finally released the door, Plaintiff alleges that Martinez "suddenly re-slammed the door against Plaintiff's body for a second time." (Id.) Plaintiff believes that he was seriously injured as the result of the cell door twice closing on him, and asserts that Martinez and Defendant Hurm refused him medical attention. (Id.)

From February 7 to February 13, 2004 Plaintiff alleges that he requested medical attention from Defendant Williams, Defendant Jones, Defendant Ramirez, Defendant Spence, Defendant Reed and Defendant Comaucho, whom all refused. (Id.) On or about February 13, 2004 Dr. Jenkins examined Plaintiff and ordered an X-Ray of Plaintiff's left side. (Id. 2--3.) On February 17, 2004 Plaintiff's X-Ray showed a healing fracture on Plaintiff's left ninth anterior rib. (Id. 3.) Plaintiff alleges that he was not informed of the X-Ray results or given proper medical attention. (Id.)

On May 5, 2004 Dr. Jenkins ordered additional X-Rays. (Id.) On June 14, 2004 Plaintiff asserts that Dr. Choo, a different doctor, took another X-Ray which confirmed Dr. Jenkins' diagnosis. (Report 3.) Plaintiff contends that both Dr. Jenkins and Dr. Choo diagnosed injury to his ribs. (Id.)

On August 2, 2006 Plaintiff filed this action alleging, among other claims, federal and state civil rights violations. (Doc. No. 1.) On July 11, 2007 Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint. (Doc. No. 47.) On September 4, 2007 Plaintiff opposed, and on October 1, 2007 Defendants filed a reply. (Doc. Nos. 51, 53.) On February 4, 2008 the Magistrate Judge filed his Report, recommending that Defendants' motion to dismiss be granted in part and denied in part. (Doc. No. 57.) On February 25, 2008 Defendants filed their objections to the Report. (Doc. No. 59.) On February 28, 2008 Plaintiff followed suit. (Doc. No. 60.) Both parties also submitted timely replies. (Doc. Nos. 61, 63.)


The Court must dismiss a cause of action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the complaint's sufficiency. See North Star Int'l. v. Arizona Corp. Comm'n., 720 F.2d 578, 581 (9th Cir. 1983). All material allegations in the complaint, "even if doubtful in fact," are assumed to be true. Id. The court must assume the truth of all factual allegations and must "construe them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Gompper v. VISX, Inc., 298 F.3d 893, 895 (9th Cir. 2002); see also Walleri v. Fed. Home Loan Bank of Seattle, 83 F.3d 1575, 1580 (9th Cir. 1996).

As the Supreme Court recently explained, "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007). Instead, the allegations in the complaint "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 1964--65. A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law either for lack of a cognizable legal theory or for insufficient facts under a cognizable theory. Robertson v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 534 (9th Cir. 1984).

Where a plaintiff appears in propria persona in a civil rights case, the court must also be careful to construe the pleadings liberally and afford plaintiff any benefit of the doubt. See Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dep't, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988). However, at a minimum, even a pro se plaintiff must allege with at least some degree of particularity over acts which defendants engaged in that support his claim. Jones v. Community Redevelopment Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984).


Having read and considered the underlying Complaint, Motion to Dismiss, Report and Objections thereto, the Court concludes that the Report presents a well-reasoned analysis of the issues raised in the Complaint and Motion to Dismiss. For the following reasons, the Court finds that the Report correctly ...

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