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Martin v. Woodford

January 6, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge



I. Screening Order

Plaintiff Claudell Earl Martin ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed his complaint onMarch 21, 2008. (Doc. 1.)

On December 16, 2008, the court issued a screening order finding that plaintiff's allegations give rise to cognizable claims for relief under section 1983 against 1) defendants McGuinness and Patel Ismail for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment and 2) defendants J. Gonzales, R. Fisher, R. Thomas, K. Reed, E. Henry, and J. Flory for retaliation in violation of the First Amendment. However, the court found that plaintiff's allegations do not give rise to any claims for relief against Defendants Nurse John Doe, MTA L. Garcia, Gricewich, Sergeant Sobbe, CMO Youssef, Jeanne Woodford, and N. Grannis. The court ordered plaintiff to either file an amended complaint or notify the court that he wishes to proceed only on his Eighth Amendment claims. On December 4, 2003, plaintiff notified the court that he does not wish to amend and wishes to proceed only his cognizable claims. Based on plaintiff's notice, the instant Findings and Recommendations now issues.

A. Screening Requirement

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious," that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),(2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

B. Pleading Requirements

1. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)

"Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions," none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a). Pursuant to Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a). "Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. A court may dismiss a complaint only if it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations. Id. at 514. "'The issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims. Indeed it may appear on the face of the pleadings that a recovery is very remote and unlikely but that is not the test.'" Jackson v. Carey, 353 F.3d 750, 755 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)); see also Austin v. Terhune, 367 F.3d 1167, 1171 (9th Cir. 2004) ("'Pleadings need suffice only to put the opposing party on notice of the claim . . . .'" (quoting Fontana v. Haskin, 262 F.3d 871, 977 (9th Cir. 2001))). However, "the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations." Neitze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). "[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled." Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).

2. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 18(a)

"The controlling principle appears in Fed.R.Civ.P. 18(a) 'A party asserting a claim to relief as an original claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim, may join, either as independent or as alternate claims, as many claims, legal, equitable, or maritime, as the party has against an opposing party.' Thus multiple claims against a single party are fine, but Claim A against Defendant 1 should not be joined with unrelated Claim B against Defendant 2. Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits, not only to prevent the sort of morass [a multiple claim, multiple defendant] suit produce[s], but also to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees-for the Prison Litigation Reform Act limits to 3 the number of frivolous suits or appeals that any prisoner may file without prepayment of the required fees. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g)." George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007).

C. Summary of Plaintiff's Complaint

Plaintiff is currently a state prisoner at Corcoran State Prison ("CSP") in Corcoran, California. Plaintiff was formerly imprisoned at Kern Valley State Prison ("KVSP"), also known as Delano II, in Delano, California, where the acts he complains of occurred. Plaintiff names as defendants: Director of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR") Jeanne S. Woodford; Chief Appeal Officer N. Grannis; Doctor McGuinness at KVSP; B. Gricewich, CC II Appeal Coordinator at KVSP; Nurse John Doe at KVSP; MTA L. Garcia at KVSP; Doctor Patel Ismail at KVSP; Sergeant Sobbe at KVSP; Correctional Captain John Doe and J. Gonzales at KVSP; Facility Captain R. Fisher; R. Thomas, C&PR at KVSP; G. Garcia and E. Henry, CCII at KVSP; K. Reed, Captain at KVSP; and J. Flory, CCI at KVSP.*fn1

Plaintiff alleges the following. Plaintiff has heart-related problems. Plaintiff arrived at KVSP on August 5, 2005. Defendant McGuinness examined Plaintiff and prescribed a plan of treatment, including medication for Plaintiff. Plaintiff had only a couple of days of medication when he arrived. Plaintiff did not receive his medication and filed a grievance. Plaintiff's grievance was granted. Plaintiff did not receive all of his medication, however, and resubmitted his grievance, which defendant Gricewich screened out as being a duplicate grievance. Plaintiff did not act for a year. (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9.)

On August 1, 2006, Plaintiff felt he was choking on his meal. Officer Ortiz called the medical department. Defendant L. Garcia arrived and told Plaintiff that medical department would not respond unless Plaintiff was blue in the face or passed out on the floor. Plaintiff then filed a grievance, complaining of the unprofessional conduct and the denial of his heart medication. Defendant Patel Ismail reinstated the medication that had been denied, but could not act against defendant L. Garcia because it was beyond the scope of the medical department. Plaintiff appealed this decision. Defendant A. Youssef denied the appeal at the second level, and defendant N. Grannis denied his appeal at the third level. (Id., pp. 9-11.)

While Plaintiff was filing his medical appeals, Plaintiff was switched from a skilled paid position to a lesser paid position. Plaintiff grieved this job change on February 1, 2007. On February 5, 2007, Plaintiff appeared before the KVSP general population inmate classification committee, comprised of defendants J. Gonzalez, R. Fisher, R. Thomas, G. Garcia. The committee elected to refer Plaintiff's case to DRB and continued Plaintiff's current program until DRB made a decision. Plaintiff was then moved to another facility, and subsequently lost another job. Plaintiff's grievance was partially granted at the informal level on February 20, 2007. However, because of the alleged retaliation, Plaintiff appealed to the first level. On March 27, 2007, defendant Sobbe found that Plaintiff had been adversely affected. Plaintiff's grievance was fully granted. (Id., pp. 11-12.)

Plaintiff filed a grievance against defendants K. Reed, E. Henry, and J. Flory for transferring Plaintiff from KVSP to Centinela State Prison. Plaintiff claims this was done to chill Plaintiff's attempts to seek redress for his medical grievances. (Id., p. 12.)

Plaintiff claims deliberate indifference to a serious medical need, retaliation, and a violation of Plaintiff's due process. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages, injunctive relief preventing further transfer, ...

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