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Martin v. Roche

November 12, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Craig M. Kellison United States Magistrate Judge


Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court is plaintiff's complaint (Doc. 1).

The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if it: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Moreover, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that complaints contain a ". . . short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). This means that claims must be stated simply, concisely, and directly. See McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996) (referring to Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(e)(1)). These rules are satisfied if the complaint gives the defendant fair notice of the plaintiff's claim and the grounds upon which it rests. See Kimes v. Stone, 84 F.3d 1121, 1129 (9th Cir. 1996). Because plaintiff must allege with at least some degree of particularity overt acts by specific defendants which support the claims, vague and conclusory allegations fail to satisfy this standard. Further, it is impossible for the court to conduct required the screening when the allegations are vague and conclusory.


This action proceeds as against those defendants residing and/or working within the boundaries of the Sacramento division of this court.*fn1 Specifically, plaintiff names Roche and R. Cox, who are prison officials at High Desert State Prison ("HDSP"). Plaintiff also names: Donald A. Ramberg, M.D., whom plaintiff alleges to be a doctor with the "Medical Board of California" located in Sacramento, and N. Grannis, the Chief of Inmate Appeal for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, whose place of business is also located in Sacramento. The court will focus on plaintiff's allegations as against these four defendants only.

Plaintiff states that he was transferred to HDSP on June 13, 2002, and was experiencing adverse side effects of pain medication provided to him at his prior institution. Specifically, he asserts that he had been given Neurontin which caused the following problems: "stay thirsty, increase saliva and blisters in plaintiff's mouth, as plaintiff's motor skills were impaired with dizziness, decrease in body weight with continuous chills, and joint stiffness."*fn2

After submitting a request to see medical staff at HDSP, plaintiff states that defendant Roche ordered an MRI of plaintiff's spine.

Plaintiff states that, after the MRI, he was placed back on Neurontin and that, after 38 months the adverse side effects worsened "to the point that plaintiff's right testicle began swelling, impairing the plaintiff's ability to stand, stoop, and walk." According to plaintiff, "doing [sic] the course of the plaintiff's continuous pain, the plaintiff was then seen on April 6, 2005, by the defendant, Dr. R. Cox, who examined the plaintiff, and continued the meds 'Neurontin,' and also placed the plaintiff on the Institution's Disability Placement Program . . . stating 'Mobility Impaired' with no further treatment. . . ."

Plaintiff alleges that defendant Ramberg conducted a physical examination on October 31, 2006, and was scheduled to perform spinal surgery later in 2006. According to plaintiff, defendant Ramberg did not perform that procedure in the way it was discussed with plaintiff during the October 2006 consultation. Plaintiff states that, upon his discharge from the hospital, defendant Ramberg prescribed various medications. According to plaintiff, a "30-day follow-up" ordered by defendant Ramberg never occurred.

The complaint does not appear to contain any specific allegations as to defendant Grannis. However, plaintiff attaches to the complaint a September 4, 2007, Director's Level Appeal Decision addressing plaintiff's inmate grievance. Defendant Grannis outlined plaintiff's grievance as follows:

It is the appellant's position that on December 13, 2006, he was transported from California Men's Colony (CMC) to an outside hospital for a medical procedure. The appellant contends that upon his return to the institution, he learned that CMC Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) staff had misplaced the legal paperwork that he had left in his cell. The appellant contends that prior to being transported he was told to leave the legal paperwork in his assigned cell and assured that this paperwork would be forwarded to his stored property in Receiving & Release (R&R) if after three days he was unable to return to CMC. The appellant also contends that prior to his return to CMC he was removed from the ASU and that when he did return he was re-housed in "A" Quad. The appellant contends that when he received his property from R&R he noticed that the legal paperwork that he had left in his cell was missing. The appellant stated that he submitted an Inmate Request for Interview form in an attempt to locate the missing paperwork, and when he received no response, he submitted an appeal. The appellant requests that his missing paperwork be returned to him so that they can be submitted to the court in a timely manner.

Defendant Grannis indicated in the decision that plaintiff's inmate appeal was being granted in part. Specifically, the decision states:

. . . Inmate access to the courts shall not be obstructed. A review of the circumstances surrounding the appellant's missing property indicates that staff failed to appropriately process the appellant's legal paperwork from ASU back into his stored property in R&R. The examiner found that the institution and R&R staff made a significant effort to find the appellant's missing legal paperwork; however, during their attempts to locate the missing legal paperwork and their interview with the appellant, they did not require the appellant to provide specific information on the court documents he was missing or the legal material from which he derived his legal noted from. If after interviewing the appellant he can establish that he does know the specific court/case and provide ...

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