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Hernandez v. Danielson

June 15, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandra M. Snyder United States Magistrate Judge


Plaintiff Raymond Hernandez ("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 is in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and was incarcerated at Pleasant Valley State Prison at the time the events in his complaint took place. Plaintiff is suing under section 1983 for the violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff also alleges violations of state law. Plaintiff names R. Richardson (food truck operator), M. Kim (physician), and Shu (medical doctor) defendants. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff will be given the opportunity to either file an amended complaint, or to notify the court that he wishes to proceed only on the claims found to be cognizable in this order.

I. 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. 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. Background

A. Procedural Background

Plaintiff filed the original complaint in this action on March 8, 2006. (Doc. #1.) Plaintiff, on his own initiative, filed his First Amended Complaint on September 12, 2007. (Doc. #10.) The Court screened Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint on January 15, 2008. (Doc. #11.) The Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint and granted leave to file a Second Amended Complaint. Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint on March 14, 2008. (Doc. #14.) This action proceeds on Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint.

B. Factual Background

On December 21, 2004, Plaintiff was working in the prison dining kitchen. (Compl. ¶ 12.) After a food truck driven by Defendant Richardson arrived, Plaintiff went to the dock area to assist in unloading the truck. (Compl. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff jumped into the back of the truck and pushed two carts onto the truck's hydraulic lift-gate. (Compl. ¶ 14.) Defendant Richardson began to lower the lift-gate when it malfunctioned, causing the lift-gate to tilt and the carts fell on Plaintiff. (Compl. ¶ 14.) Plaintiff fell, injuring his knee, and the 800 pound carts fell on Plaintiff's hands. (Compl. ¶ 15.) Plaintiff's hands were badly crushed, causing profuse bleeding and shattered bones protruded through the skin. (Compl. ¶ 16.)

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Richardson was aware of several prior injuries that resulted from the food transport truck malfunctioning and injuring other inmates. (Compl. ¶ 39.) Defendant Richardson was specifically aware that the lift-gate was malfunctioning and could cause injury to inmates unloading the food truck. (Compl. ¶ 69.) Defendant Richardson "was employed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as a Food Truck Operator at Pleasant Valley State Prison". (Compl. ¶ 7.)

Plaintiff was escorted to the facility's health clinic. (Compl. ¶ 17.) Plaintiff's hands were wrapped with gauze and rags to slow the flow of blood. (Compl. ¶ 18.) Plaintiff was transported to the Central Treatment Center at PVSP for further treatment. (Compl. ¶ 19.) Plaintiff was prescribed pain medication and x-rays were taken of his hands. (Compl. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff was transported to a medical imaging consultant to take impressions of his right and left hands. (Compl. ¶ 21.) The following day, Plaintiff was transported to another medical consultant in Hanford, California where his left hand was dressed. (Compl. ¶ 22.) When Plaintiff returned to his housing unit at PVSP, he complained that he would not be able to care for himself because both of his hands were crushed, but his complaints were ignored. (Compl. ¶ 24.) Plaintiff was scheduled for surgery on 12/31/2004, but prison officials refused to transport Plaintiff for surgery. (Compl. ¶ 25.) Plaintiff received reconstructive surgery on January 6, 2005. (Compl. ¶ 27.) Plaintiff complains that after the surgery, he was left in his cell severely sedated, unable to care for himself, and his dressings were not changed. (Compl. ¶ 27.)

On February 7, 2005, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Han at the Fresno Surgery Center and was informed that an incision in his hand had become infected. (Compl. ¶ 28.) After returning to PVSP, Plaintiff, with the help of a fellow inmate, filed an administrative appeal and received priority ducats to see the doctor. (Compl. ¶ 29-30.)

Plaintiff saw Defendant Shu on February 16, 2005 who discovered the infection in Plaintiff's left hand and scheduled Plaintiff to see Dr. Han on ...

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