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Cook v. California Dep't of Corrections

January 12, 2010

KEYAWN COOK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



ORDER AND FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that his rights under the Eighth Amendment were violated by deliberate indifference to his safety and to his serious medical needs. This matter is before the court on defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c). In addition, both parties have moved to modify the dates set in the scheduling order filed on March 27, 2009.

STANDARDS FOR A MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS PURSUANT TO FED.R.CIV.P. 12(C)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides: After the pleadings are closed--but early enough not to delay trial--a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c). In considering a motion for judgment on the pleadings the court accepts "all factual allegations in the complaint as true" and construes the allegations "in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." Fleming v. Pickard, 581 F.3d 922, 925 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing Turner v. Cook, 362 F.3d 1219, 1225 (9th Cir. 2004)). Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate "when there is no issue of material fact in dispute, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fleming v. Pickard, id. (citing Heliotrope Gen., Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 189 F.3d 971, 979 (9th Cir. 1999)).

ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT

Plaintiff's complaint contains the following allegations. At all times relevant to this action, plaintiff was a state prisoner housed at California State Prison-Sacramento (CSP-Sacramento). On May 20, 2006, while headed to a shower on the upper tier of his cell block, plaintiff slipped in a puddle of water, falling on his back and slamming his head to the ground. It had been raining the previous day and on the early morning of May 20, 2006, and the lighting was "very dim" in the cellblock. There were no caution cones or wet floor signs posted on the tier, nor did staff give the inmates any warnings about the wet floor, nor were inmate tier tenders allowed to clean up the water. Defendant Easley was charged with taking reasonable steps to ensure inmate safety in the cellblock and the unsafe conditions must have been obvious to defendant Easley because said defendant had provided food to inmates in their cells during the relevant period of time.

Plaintiff was taken to the medical clinic. He was given a neck brace and told that he had sustained a concussion. He was given a shot and 400 mgs. of Ibuprofen, told to lie in the clinic for thirty minutes, and sent back to his cell with a pack and extra ibuprofen. He continued to experience "slight back pain and extremely painful migraine headaches." Complaint, filed May 27, 2008, at 6. He submitted requests for medical attention that went unanswered. On May 25, 2006, he was seen but not provided any care except the taking of his vital signs.

On June 12, 2006, plaintiff saw defendant Bal, who counseled plaintiff and gave him a drug that did not stop the headache. On June 13, 2006, plaintiff was interviewed by defendant Wedell, who gave him no further treatment. Defendant O'Brian screened out plaintiff's inmate grievance, and defendant Grannis denied plaintiff's grievance at the Director's Level of Review. In September 2006, plaintiff was transferred to Ironwood State Prison, where he continued to seek medical treatment.

DEFENDANTS' MOTION

I. Defendant Easley

Defendant Easley seeks judgment on the pleadings on the ground that plaintiff's allegations do not state a cognizable claim against him for violation of plaintiff's rights under the Eighth Amendment. Specifically, defendant contends that the allegations against him are conclusory and include neither any specific allegation of his personal involvement in the events complained of nor "any factual assertion that Defendant Easley had any knowledge of any risk to plaintiff's health and safety." Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, filed June 19, 2009, at 5.

In relevant part, plaintiff's complaint contains the following allegations against defendant Easley:

On May 19th 2006 and in the early morning of Ma [sic] 20th 2006, it had been raining. On said date, we inmates were on modified lockdown. On the above said date (May 20th) after breakfast, Second Watch (2/w) Control Tower Officer announced and ran (modified) lockdown showers, one cell at a time. Lighting was very dim in (a) Section of 7 Block. When it was my cellie and I turn for the showers, plaintiff came out with full clothing on. As I headed for the stairs to go to the upper tier shower, I slipped in a puddle or water unbeknownst to myself. I fell on my back and head slammed to the ground as a result of the first tier by the stairs. I must have went out or was unconscious because when I cam to I was being administered aid by C-facility medical staff and corrections officers.

There were no caution cones or wet floor signs posted on the tier or in the dayroom. Nor did staff give us warning before allowing inmates to proceed out of cell for lockdown showers. Nor did they allow any 7 Block tier tender (porter) to get water up. Having no regard for the health and safety of staff or inmates. Never taking any reasonable measure to guarantee and provide humane conditions of confinement. The Correctional Officer Easley and John ...


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