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Alexander v. Tilton

February 23, 2009


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


(Doc. 16)


I. Screening Order

Plaintiff Larry C. Alexander ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed his original complaint on May 23, 2007. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff filed a first amended complaint on August 13, 2007. (Doc. 7.) The Court ordered that Plaintiff either filed an amended complaint or notify court of willingness to proceed only on cognizable claims on March 12, 2008. (Doc. 9.) After receiving extensions of time, Plaintiff filed his second amended complaint on July 28, 2008. (Doc. 16.) Plaintiff's second amended complaint is presently before the Court for screening.

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).

"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)).

B. Summary of Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint and Rule 18(a)

Plaintiff is currently a state prisoner at California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison ("CSATF/SP") in Corcoran, California, where the acts he complains of occurred. Plaintiff names the following defendants: Secretary of California Department of Corrections ("CDCR") James C. Tilton; Chief of CDCR's Inmate Appeals Branch Nancy Grannis; Director of Division of Correctional Health Care Service ("DCHCS") Renee Kanan; Warden of CSATF/SP Ken Clark; Warden of California State Prison-Los Angeles County ("CSP-LAC") John Doe 1; Warden of Calipatria State Prison ("CSP-CAL") John Doe 2; Chief Medical Officer ("CMO") of CSP-LAC J. Fitter; CMO of CSATF/SP E. Flores; CMO of CSP-CAL John Doe 3; Correctional Captain at CDCR P. Enriquez; Correctional Counselor II ("CCII")/Appeal Coordinators at CSP-LAC A. Kittner, C. A. Collins, C. R. Carlson, and Shelly Baumgardner; CCII at CSP-CAL H. Fasolo and D. Edwards; CCII at CSATF/SP R. Gomez, R. Hall, and S. A. Smith; Medical Appeals Analyst at CSP-LAC B. Deliberto; SSA at CSATF/SP Corrina M. Heck; Medical Doctors at CSP-LAC J. Sighn, M. Attygalla, and P. Fortaleza; Medical Doctors at CSPCAL Nguyen and Sands; Dermatologist at CSP-CAL Alex Peterson; Medical Doctor at CSATF/SP Nandan Bhatt; and Does 1 through 150. (Doc. 16, pp. 1-2.). Plaintiff's complaint suffers from several deficiencies, as set forth below.

1. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 18(a)

Plaintiff alleges activities that span from his incarceration at CSP-CAL in 2002 (Id., p. 12, ¶¶ 24-25), CSP-LAC in 2003 (Id., pp. 17-18, ¶ 32), and CSATF/SP in 2006 (Id., pp. 26-27, ¶ 49.) Though the claims alleged concern a similar general subject matter, namely Plaintiff's medical treatment, the Court finds that the events alleged at each prison are unrelated. Plaintiff's complaint thus fails to comply with 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 feesfor 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).

The Court focuses its analysis on Plaintiff's allegations regarding events at CSATF/SP. Plaintiff's allegations regarding events at CSP-LAC and CSP-LAC and all defendants related therein, namely, John Doe 1, John Doe 2, J. Fitter, John Doe 3, A. Kittner, C. A. Collins, C. R. Carlson, Shelly Baumgardner, H. Fasolo, D. Edwards, B. Deliberto, J. Sighn, M. Attygalla, P. Fortaleza, Nguyen, Sands, and Alex Peterson, are dismissed without prejudice for non-compliance with Rule 18(a). The Court notes that the Eastern District of California is not the proper venue for complaints regarding events at CSP-CAL and CSP-LAC. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). Plaintiff is advised that if he wishes to pursue a claim against defendants concerning events at CSP-CAL and CSP-LAC, Plaintiff should file a separate action against each group of defendants in the correct venue.

Plaintiff's allegations regarding CSATF/SP makes distinctions between surgical/medical treatment and dental treatment. (See Doc. 16, ¶¶ 49, 50, 52, 53, 55, 56; Id., ¶¶ 51, 54, 56.) Other than occurring in the same prison, the dental treatment allegations concern a distinct set of defendants from the medical treatment allegations. Consequently, these claims also cannot be joined together in this complaint. Fed. R. Civ. P. 18 (a). The Court for purposes of this order will analyze only Plaintiff's allegations regarding medical treatment at CSATF/SP. Plaintiff is advised to file a separate complaint regarding his dental treatment at CSATF/SP if he wishes to pursue a section 1983 claim.

2. Alleged Events at CSATF/SP Concerning Medical Treatment

Plaintiff alleges the following concerning events at CSATF/SP. Plaintiff had contracted both Condyloma Accuminata Popaloma Virus ("CAPV") and Hepatitis C Virus ("HCV") while incarcerated. (Doc. 16, p. 9, ¶ 17.) Plaintiff was transferred to CSATF/SP on June 7, 2006. On August 16, 2006, defendant Bhatt conducted a diagnostic intake of Plaintiff. (Id., pp. 26-27, ¶ 49.) Plaintiff informed Bhatt that warts were migrating to Plaintiff's genitalia, resulting in extreme pain. Plaintiff sought treatment for this to no avail. (Id.) Plaintiff sought pain relief medicine and treatment for HCV, but Bhatt failed to act. (Id.) Plaintiff filed an inmate appeal on August 21, 2006, seeking surgical/medical treatment because of complications with urination and internal bleeding. (Id., p. 27, ¶ 50.) The appeal was erroneously categorized as a Category 7 appeal, which precluded Plaintiff's ability to obtain medical attention via appeal. (Id.)

On September 11, 2006, defendant Heck interviewed Plaintiff regarding his appeal. (Id., pp. 28-29, ¶ 52.) Plaintiff conveyed to Heck that the purpose of his appeal was to obtain immediate medical attention, and defendant Heck failed to assist Plaintiff. (Id.) The appeal was partially granted as a "category 7" inquiry, concerning only staff misconduct. (Id.) Plaintiff appealed to the second level. (Id., pp. 29-30, ¶ 53.) On November 21, 2006, Defendant Flores responded by partially granting Plaintiff's appeal. (Id.) Plaintiff appealed to the offices of Tilton, Grannis, Kanan, and Enriquez. (Id.) On November 28 and 29, 2006, Plaintiff wrote confidential mail to IAB and the Sacramento Officer of Internal Affairs, which were intercepted in order to chill Plaintiff's First Amendment rights. (Id.) On February 27, 2007, defendant Enriquez responded to Plaintiff's appeal, concurring with the lower level responses and denying the appeal. (Id.) Plaintiff filed another grievance on March 13, 2007. (Id., pp. 31-32, ¶ 56.) Heck refused to process it. (Id.)

On July 26, 2007, Plaintiff was examined by CSATF/SP medical Does regarding Plaintiff's internal bleeding. (Id.) On August, 6, 2007, blood was discovered in Plaintiff's stool sample. (Id.) On August 24, 2007, medical Does scheduled Plaintiff for a colonoscopy, which as of the filing date of this action has not occurred. (Id.) On December 3, 2007, Plaintiff was transported to a specialist for surgery of anal warts and external hemorrhoids only. (Id.) CSATF/SP medical Does refused to change Plaintiff's post-surgical bandages or monitor his post-surgical recovery process. (Id.) Plaintiff submitted a medical ...

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