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Coreno v. Hiles

June 14, 2010

JOSEPH CORENO, CDCR #T-86813, PLAINTIFF,
v.
R. HILES, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Louisa S Porter United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM DISCOVERY ORDER [Doc. 22]

Plaintiff Joseph Coreno is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On April 6, 2010, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Permission to Serve a Set of Interrogatories and [Request for] Production of Documents at the Same Time the Second Amended Complaint is Served on Defendant [Warden] George Neotti. [Doc. 13.] Specifically, Plaintiff seeks discovery for the limited purpose of identifying the names of the Doe defendants in order to effect service. Id. at 4. On April 8, 2010, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to serve the discovery requests, but "[did] NOT issue an opinion as to the scope of the discovery requests under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)." [Doc. 15 at 2.] On May 14, 2010, Plaintiff served Defendant Neotti with both the Second Amended Complaint and Interrogatories and Requests for Production. [Doc. 22-1 at 3.]

On May 26, 2010, Defendant Neotti filed a Motion for Relief from Order Granting Leave to Serve Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents. [Doc. 22.] In particular, Defendant requests that the Court set aside its Order of April 8, 2010 for the following reasons:

(1) Defendant intends to file a motion to dismiss for Plaintiff's failure to exhaust administrative remedies, and "Defendant should not be required to respond to early discovery when the entire action should be dismissed;" (2) "Defendant was served . . . after the Court granted Plaintiff's motion [for leave to serve discovery], and therefore had no opportunity to oppose the motion;" and

(3) in light of the Court's authority to extend the period of service, it would be more efficient to address the motion to dismiss before allowing early discovery. [Doc. 22-1 at 1-2.]

I. BACKGROUND -- PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

In his Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges the following two causes of action:

(1) abuse, harassment, and deprivation of medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment; and

(2) retaliatory transfer of Plaintiff to another prison and Defendant Neotti's refusal to process Plaintiff's grievance forms, in violation of Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. [Doc. 17.]

At approximately 5:00 p.m. on February 18, 2007, "Plaintiff's back went completely out," and he fell to the floor of his cell, unable to sit or stand up. Id. at ¶ 1. Plaintiff informed a correctional officer of his medical emergency, but no help arrived until "one or two hours later." Id. at ¶ 2. Despite Plaintiff's protestations of severe pain, two officers then handcuffed Plaintiff, placed him on a gurney with no wheels, dragged him to a van, and yanked him into the van by the arms. Id. at ¶¶ 3-12. The officers drove Plaintiff to the Correctional Treatment Center ("CTC"), where he was seen by Defendant R. Hiles, a registered nurse. Plaintiff explained the intense nature of his back pain and limited movement, but Defendant Hiles told Plaintiff "to stop complaining because it's not that bad." Id. at ¶ 25. Furthermore, Hiles stated that there was nothing more she could do, because no doctor was on duty, due to the holiday weekend. Id. at ¶¶ 20, 34. Hiles denied Plaintiff's request for testing, such as X-rays, and sent Plaintiff back to his cell without any treatment. Id. at ¶¶ 35-41.

Later that night, after continuing to call for medical attention as a result of ongoing intense pain and irregular breathing, three different officers approached his cell and promised him X-rays and medical treatment. Id. at ¶ 55. The officers then transported Plaintiff back to the van in the same rough manner as before. When Plaintiff screamed in pain, the officers laughed, mocked, and threatened him. Id. at ¶¶ 57-66. The officers drove Plaintiff to the CTC, but took him down different hallways and left him in a wet holding cell. Id. at ¶¶ 70-73. A different registered nurse visited the cell, and Plaintiff described the pain and numbness in his back and legs. The nurse told Plaintiff "he looks fine" and repeatedly refused his requests for tests. Id. at ¶¶ 74-88. The officers returned and locked Plaintiff in the wet holding cell. Plaintiff asked why they had lied about the medical treatment, and the ranking officer replied that "he wanted to teach [Plaintiff] a lesson" for "causing so much trouble." Id. at ¶¶ 97-98. Plaintiff asked to be taken back to his cell, but the officers refused. Plaintiff then requested a toothbrush, soap, a change of clothes, and assistance using the bathroom, but the officers denied the requests and left Plaintiff alone in the holding cell. Id. ¶¶ at 105-08.

While in the cell, Plaintiff "was forced to urinate on [himself] and on the floor" and "lay in his urine and smell it all night." Id. at ¶ 112-13. A different officer brought breakfast in the morning, and Plaintiff asked for help. The officer refused, laughed, and told Plaintiff to stop complaining. Plaintiff remained in these conditions, without access to the "basic essentials [like] water [and] soap" for "2-3 days." Id. at ¶¶ 115-28.

On either February 20, 2007 or February 21, 2007, Plaintiff was moved to a room in the CTC, where he was seen by Dr. Armstrong. After 3-4 weeks, Plaintiff began to walk again. On March 22, 2007, Dr. Armstrong discharged Plaintiff and gave him a walker. Id. at ¶¶ 130-33. Then, after being transferred to a different prison, Plaintiff met with Dr. Rodriguez, who ordered an MRI and conducted nerve damage tests. Id. at ¶¶ 139-41. The tests demonstrated serious injury, and Dr. Rodriguez put Plaintiff on pain medication and sent him to a specialist, who recommended lumbar fusion surgery. Id. at ¶¶ 142-43. Plaintiff further alleges that he "is in a substantial amount of pain everyday and is limited on the things he can do." Id. at ¶ 144. Count I of the Second Amended Complaint, deprivation of medical care, incorporates the foregoing allegations and names R. Hiles and seven Does (the unidentified officers and nurse) as Defendants.

Count II of the Second Amended Complaint sets forth allegations of administrative misconduct. On April 26, 2007, one month after Plaintiff filed his first grievance as to the events alleged above, Plaintiff was transferred to Salinas Valley State Prison. Id. at ¶¶ 135, 149. Over the next two years, Plaintiff submitted numerous grievance forms, inmate requests to the Appeals Coordinator, and letters to the previous prison, inquiring into the status of his grievance filings. Id. at ¶¶ 152-63. On July 24, 2009, the Health Care Appeal Coordinator responded that "there is no record of any 602's [grievance forms]." Id. at ¶ 164. In sum, Count II alleges that prison officials refused to process Plaintiff's ...


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