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Sevilla v. Adams

September 7, 2010

RONALD VICTOR SEVILLA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DERRAL ADAMS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING ACTION PROCEED ON FIFTH AMENDED COMPLAINT AGAINST DEFENDANTS BRADISH, ROSCOE, GONZALES, AND BHATT FOR VIOLATION OF THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT, AND THE OTHER CLAIMS AND DEFENDANTS BE DISMISSED (Doc. 56) OBJECTIONS DUE WITHIN THIRTY DAYS

Findings and Recommending Following Screening of Fifth Amended Complaint

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Ronald Victor Sevilla, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on February 16, 2006. Plaintiff, who is currently incarcerated at High Desert State Prison in Susanville, brings this suit against prison officials at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison (SATF) in Corcoran for violating his rights between 1999 and 2004 while he was housed at SATF. Now pending before the Court is Plaintiff's fifth amended complaint, filed May 18, 2009.*fn1

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).

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)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)). "[P]laintiffs [now] face a higher burden of pleadings facts..," Al-Kidd v. Ashcroft, 580 F.3d 949, 977 (9th Cir. 2009), petition for cert. filed, 79 U.S.L.W. 3062 (U.S. Jul. 16, 2010) (No. 10-98), and while a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, courts "are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences," Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

To state a viable claim for relief, Plaintiff must set forth factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Iqbal at 1949-50.

II. Plaintiff's Claims

A. Eighth Amendment Medical Care Claims

1. Defendant Nguyen

a. Allegations

Plaintiff injured his spine in 1978 and suffers from degenerative disc disease as a result. Plaintiff experiences severe nerve pain, chronic lower back pain, and torturous leg cramps on a daily basis. Plaintiff's medical condition is well-documented and he has been treated over the past twenty years with every type of pain reliever and muscle relaxant. On August 1, 1999, Defendant Nguyen, a prison physician, interviewed Plaintiff and acknowledged his medical condition, but failed to "properly treat" Plaintiff. (Doc. 56, 5th Amend. Comp., p. 3.)

On August 30, 1999, Plaintiff was walking across the yard when he developed a torturous leg cramp and fell to the ground so hard that his toenail broke off. Bleeding, Plaintiff walked to the control tower and requested medical attention. Plaintiff was told that Defendant Nguyen would not see him because he was seen two weeks ago. Plaintiff was ordered to return to his cell without any medical care. Plaintiff made numerous attempts to see a doctor over the next few weeks, but his health care services request forms were denied. Plaintiff contends that he did not see Defendant Nguyen after the August 1, 1999, appointment and did not receive proper medical care until 2002.

b. Legal Standard

To constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, prison conditions must involve "the wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain." Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981). A prisoner's claim of inadequate medical care does not rise to the level of an Eighth Amendment violation unless (1) "the prison official deprived the prisoner of the 'minimal civilized measure of life's necessities,'" and (2) "the prison official 'acted with deliberate indifference in doing so.'" Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1057 (9th Cir. 2004) (quoting Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 744 (9th Cir. 2002) (citation omitted)).

A prison official does not act in a deliberately indifferent manner unless the official "knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). Deliberate indifference may be manifested "when prison officials deny, delay or intentionally interfere with medical treatment," or in the manner "in which prison physicians provide medical care." McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1992), overruled on other grounds, WMX Techs., Inc. v. Miller, 104 F.3d 1133, 1136 (9th Cir. 1997) (en banc). Where a prisoner is alleging a delay in receiving medical treatment, the delay must have led to further harm in order for the prisoner to make ...


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