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Holcomb v. Amaya

January 12, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Wunderlich United States Magistrate Judge


I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Richard A. Holcomb ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

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).

"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. P. 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. P. 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. 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)).

II. Plaintiff's Claims

A. Summary of Plaintiff's Complaint

Plaintiff was incarcerated at the California State Prison in Corcoran, California ("Corcoran") when the events in his complaint occurred. Plaintiff's complaint alleges Defendants (1) delayed and denied medical treatment to Plaintiff in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and (2) retaliated against Plaintiff after he exercised his First Amendment Rights by filing administrative grievances regarding his medical care. Plaintiff's complaint names 30 individuals as defendants-doctors, medical officers, nurses, correctional officers and wardens.

Plaintiff suffers from chronic back pain from multiple accidents and injuries. When Plaintiff was transferred to Corcoran, his medical devices to treat his condition were confiscated because his chrono was from a different institution. To get his medical devices re-issued to him, Plaintiff sought to get a new chrono from a doctor at Corcoran.

Defendant Dr. J. Kim refused to renew Plaintiff's chrono and refused to give Plaintiff an xray or MRI. Eventually, Defendant Kim refused to see Plaintiff at all. Plaintiff filed inmate appeals regarding these incidents but never received a response. Defendant Kim was eventually replaced by a new doctor, Defendant Conroy, who was able to refer Plaintiff to a neurologist and order the tests. However, after the results came back, Defendant Conroy refused to write the chrono Plaintiff needed to get his medical devices. Plaintiff's medical devices were disposed of per institution policy because this process took too long.

Plaintiff eventually got a chrono written for all his needed medical devices that was approved by a Chief Medical Officer ("C.M.O.") on 3/27/2006. However, requests for his medical devices were not fulfilled. Plaintiff spoke with Defendant J. Amaya about receiving his devices. Defendant Amaya obtained a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator ("TENS unit") from the physical therapy department but refused to give it to Plaintiff. Plaintiff filed multiple A.D.A. Reasonable Accommodation Appeals (C.D.C. Form 1824) which were granted. As a result of the appeals, Plaintiff was given arch supports, and two neoprene knee sleeves. Defendant Amaya provided Plaintiff with a cane and an "abdominal binder" elastic brace.

Plaintiff began to have problems with Defendant Amaya allegedly because Defendant Amaya was angry that Plaintiff "went over his head" by filing inmate appeals. Defendant Amaya told Plaintiff that he threw his TENS unit away and hid other devices meant to go to Plaintiff so that he could not receive them. Plaintiff reported Defendant Amaya to the Institutional Classification Committee. Plaintiff also reported Defendant Amaya to a C.M.O. and the A.D.A. nurse/coordinator (Defendant Guerrero). Defendant McGuinness and Defendant Amaya were contacted by a C.M.O. about this incident and subsequently refused to give Plaintiff his seizure medications for a week in retaliation for making complaints.

On May 6, 2006, Plaintiff filed another appeal for his medical devices that was granted on May 16. However, Plaintiff still did not receive anything from his appeal. Plaintiff continued making requests and seeing different doctors as well as Defendant E. Lu. Plaintiff went on a hunger strike to receive his requested medical devices. After 11 days, Defendants E. Lu, E. Garnett, M. Reynolds, T. Guerrero, and W.F. Greenbaugh gave Plaintiff his medical devices. During his hunger strike, Plaintiff was interviewed and monitored by Defendant E. Lu. Plaintiff learned that Defendant Amaya had lied to Defendant Lu, telling him that Plaintiff had broken his own medical devices, allegedly to prevent Plaintiff from receiving those medical devices. Defendant Amaya later approached Plaintiff in his holding cell and threatened to fabricate paperwork and forge Plaintiff's signature to cause problems for Plaintiff.

Plaintiff also alleges that at some unspecified time, Defendant Amaya and Defendant K. Carter went into Plaintiff's medical file and removed the original copies of all his chronos and threw them away in order ...

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