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Wilson v. Director of the Division of Adult Institutions

February 9, 2009

DAVID W. WILSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DIRECTOR OF THE DIVISION OF ADULT INSTITUTIONS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gregory G. Hollows United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER & FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Introduction

Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court are: 1) defendants' motion to dismiss, filed on 8/15/08, to which plaintiff filed his opposition; 2) plaintiff's motion for a temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction, which the court construes as a motion for a protective order, filed on 1/05/09. Allegations

This action, filed on 4/12/06, now proceeds on plaintiff's second amended complaint, filed on 6/13/07, as modified by the order, filed on 6/27/08, dismissing several defendants and all claims except for an Eighth Amendment claim against defendants Dr. Hunt and Dr. Peterson for their alleged failure to provide adequate medical care for plaintiff, i.e., in the form of a medical chrono permitting plaintiff not to wear newly issued clothing which has large painted lettering that caused plaintiff to break out in rashes.

Specifically, plaintiff alleges that, on 1/14/04, while he was incarcerated at R.J. Donovan (RJD), all inmates were ordered to exchange their state-issued pants and shirts for new-styled pants and shirts that had large stenciled lettering. On 1/16/04, plaintiff began to itch where the large lettering was located and submitted a health care request for a chrono that would permit plaintiff to wear the old-style pants. On 1/22/04, plaintiff showed defendant Hunt his leg and back rashes. Defendant Hunt gave plaintiff skin cream but, stating that the new clothing was a custody issue, refused to provide a chrono for plaintiff not to be required to wear the new clothing. Second Amended Complaint (SAC), p. 3.

Following his appeal of the issue, filed on 2/17/04, plaintiff was seen, on 2/25/05, by defendant Peterson, a dermatologist, who, evidently without accessing plaintiff's medical history with regard to rashes, also stated that he could not provide plaintiff with a chrono (per a Dr. Ritter, not a defendant), but did give plaintiff skin cream. The actions by these defendants violated plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights. SAC, p. 4.

Plaintiff has since been transferred from RJD to California Men's Colony (CMCE) to California Medical Facility-Vacaville (CMF).*fn1 Plaintiff's subsequent prison appeals have evidently been denied, and plaintiff has been subjected to pain and suffering in the form of "itching and scratching," as a result of not being excepted from wearing the newer clothing with the large stenciled lettering. Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as money damages. SAC, pp. 4-7.

Motion to Dismiss

Defendants move to dismiss this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). 28 U.S.C. § 1915 permits any court of the United States to authorize the commencement and prosecution of any suit without prepayment of fees by a person who submits an affidavit indicating that the person is unable to pay such fees. However,

[i]n no event shall a prisoner bring a civil action or appeal a judgment in a civil action or proceeding under this section if the prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).

In forma pauperis status may be acquired and lost during the course of litigation.

Stehouwer v. Hennessey, 841 F. Supp. 316, 321 (N.D. Cal., 1994), vacated on other grounds by Olivares v. Marshall, 59 F.3d 109 (9th Cir. 1995). The plain language of the statute (§ 1915(g)) makes clear that a prisoner is precluded from bringing a civil action or an appeal in forma pauperis if the prisoner has brought three frivolous actions and/or appeals (or any combination thereof totaling three). See Rodriguez v. Cook, 169 F.3d 1176, 1178 (9th Cir.1999). 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) should be used to deny a prisoner's in forma pauperis status only upon a determination that each action reviewed (as a potential strike) is carefully evaluated to determine that it was dismissed as frivolous, malicious or for failure to state a claim. Andrews v. King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2005). Defendant has the burden to "produce documentary evidence that allows the district court to conclude that the plaintiff has filed at least three prior actions ... dismissed because they were 'frivolous, malicious or fail[ed] to state a claim.'" Id., at 1120, quoting § 1915(g). Actions filed and/or dismissed prior to the enactment of the Prison Litigation Reform Act on April 26, 1996, are to be evaluated to determine whether they qualify as strikes: "the plain language of § 1915(g) requires that the court look at cases dismissed prior to the enactment of the PLRA to determine when a prisoner has used his three strikes." Rodriguez v. Cook, 169 F.3d 1176, 1181, citing Tierney v. Kupers, 128 F.3d 1310, 1311 (9th Cir. 1997).*fn2 Dismissal of an appeal as frivolous after a district court dismissal on grounds that the action was frivolous counts as a separate strike. Adepegba v. Hammons, 103 F.3d 383, 387 (5th Cir. 1996). However, Adepegba qualifies that insofar as affirmance only finds no error at district ...


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