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Chess v. Dovey

July 15, 2009

MICHAEL CHESS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
J. DOVEY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with an action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Counsel on behalf of defendants has filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that plaintiff's complaint does not contain a short and plain statement, fails to establish any connection or causal link between the defendants' alleged conduct and plaintiff's alleged injury, and fails to state a cognizable claim for inadequate medical care. Counsel for defendants also argues that plaintiff's broad request for injunctive relief should be dismissed because claims regarding inadequate medical care in California state prisons are subject to class action enforcement. Plaintiff has filed a timely opposition, and defendants have filed a timely reply.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is proceeding on his original complaint against defendants AbudurRahman, David, Dial, Dudley, French, James, Miller, Reid, and Roche.*fn1 Therein, he alleges as follows. Plaintiff is a chronic care patient who suffers from a life-threatening liver disease and type-1 insulin-dependent diabetes. As a result of complications from these diseases, plaintiff has experienced peripheral neuropathy, nerve damage, leg and foot cramps, headaches, rashes, imbalance, and constant pain. Plaintiff also claims that he suffers from gallstones, scoliosis, degenerative disc disease, an enlarged spleen, and blindness in his left eye. (Compl. at 4-5.)*fn2

On November 21, 2006, plaintiff arrived at High Desert State Prison ("HDSP"). Plaintiff claims that the defendants have reviewed his medical file at various points during his incarceration and are aware of his life-threatening diseases and various medical conditions. Plaintiff asserts that he has made repeated verbal requests and has submitted various medical slips to the defendants seeking treatment of his liver disease, diabetes, and pain, but they have refused his requests in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Compl. at 7-13, 37-49 & Exs.)

Plaintiff has woven into his complaint various exhibits, including copies of his inmate appeals in which he complains of his need for medical treatment, and prison officials' responses thereto. He has also attached to his complaint copies of some of his medical requests seeking medical treatment from doctors at HDSP. Finally, plaintiff has attached to his complaint copies of his medical records, including x-ray and blood-work reports. For relief, plaintiff requests monetary damages and declaratory and injunctive relief. (Compl. at 101-03 & Exs.)

DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

I. Defendants' Motion

Counsel for defendants argues that this action should be dismissed because plaintiff's complaint fails to comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, requiring a short and plain statement. Counsel argues that plaintiff's complaint consists of 103 pages of vague and confusing allegations against defendants with various exhibits intertwined therein. According to defense counsel, the defendants are at a loss as to what specific claims and allegations plaintiff makes against each of them. (Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss at 4-5.)

In addition, counsel argues that plaintiff's complaint fails to allege any connection or causal link between the defendants' alleged conduct and his alleged injury. For example, according to defendants, plaintiff claims that they have reviewed his medical file and are aware of his life-threatening diseases, including liver disease, gallstones, Hepatitis C, and diabetes. Plaintiff also claims that he has made requests to each of the defendants to treat his pain and medical conditions and to put him on a medical diet, but they have refused his requests and have been deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. According to defense counsel, however, plaintiff fails to allege how each defendant specifically violated his constitutional rights and how each defendant was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. (Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss at 5-6.)

Defense counsel also argues that plaintiff's complaint fails to state a cognizable claim for inadequate medical care. For example, according to counsel, plaintiff claims that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs because they either prescribed a certain treatment or refused to prescribe a certain treatment, discontinued his prescription medication, or refused to give him pain medication. Defense counsel argues, however, that plaintiff fails to allege anything more than a difference in medical opinion in this regard. (Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss at 7-8.)

Finally, counsel argues that plaintiff's claims for injunctive relief should be dismissed because they are subsumed within Plata v. Schwarzenegger, C-01-1351, a class action lawsuit and that all claims regarding medical care in California state prisons are subject to class action enforcement. Defense counsel asserts that the class in Plata consists of all prisoners in custody with serious medical needs and that here plaintiff claims that he has serious medical needs. Accordingly, counsel concludes that plaintiff's claims for injunctive relief should be directed to class counsel in Plata. (Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss at 8-9 & Ex. A.)

II. Plaintiff's Opposition

In opposition to defendants' motion to dismiss, plaintiff argues that his complaint states a cognizable claim against defendants for violating his constitutional right to receive adequate medical care. Plaintiff explains that he suffers from several serious medical conditions, including a serious liver disease, an eye injury, degenerative disc disease, painful gallstones, Hepatitis C, and diabetes. He further explains that he has met with the defendants regarding his medical conditions, but they have failed to provide him with adequate medical treatment. For example, plaintiff contends that defendants have denied him his prescription medication, refused to accurately inform him of his test results, refused to provide him with treatment for his liver disease, and refused to provide him with pain medication for his gallstones. Plaintiff maintains that, as a result of defendants' failure to treat him or transfer him to a proper facility for such treatment, ...


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