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Bertram v. Sizelove

November 19, 2010



I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Timothy Bertram ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The complaint in this action was filed on April 5, 2010. (Doc. 1.) On April 26, 2010, a motion for a preliminary injunction was filed, due to prison officials at California State Prison ("CSP") Sacramento and CSP Lancaster withholding his legal documents and other personal property. (Doc. 8.)

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 "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted," or that "seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C § 1915(e)(2)(B).

In determining whether a complaint states a claim, the Court looks to the pleading standard under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Under 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)(2). "[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require 'detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007)).

Under section 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). This requires the presentation of 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). "[A] complaint [that] pleads facts that are 'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability . . . 'stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Further, although a court must accept as true all factual allegations contained in a complaint, a court need not accept a plaintiff's legal conclusions as true. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

II. Complaint Allegations

Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo, California. The incidents alleged in the complaint occurred while Plaintiff was housed at California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi, California. Plaintiff has a medical chrono to be assigned to a lower bunk due to a seizure disorder. (Doc. 1, Comp., p. 21.)

On July 4, 2009, Plaintiff was placed in administrative segregation. After correctional officers attempted to place him in a cell with inmate Inge who refused to cell with him because of his medical condition, Plaintiff was taken to a holding cell. Defendant Sizelove approached him and said that if he was going to be a problem then Defendant would make sure that Plaintiff had nothing but problems until the day he paroled. (Id., ¶ 6.)

On July 6, 2009, Plaintiff told the psychiatric technician ("psych tech") that he needed to be moved to a bottom bunk. An unidentified correctional officer standing next to her told Plaintiff that they were aware that he needed to be moved and were working on it, but that Plaintiff should not hold his breath. (Id., ¶ 7.) On July 9, 2009, Plaintiff asked Defendant Heinzler why he had to take a cold shower. Defendant Heinzler replied, "That[']s all I got for you," allegedly in retaliation for the housing issue. Approximately twenty minutes later, while receiving his medication from the psych tech, Plaintiff told Defendant Heinzler that he had a medical chrono and needed to be moved to a bottom bunk. Defendant Heinzler told Plainitff to submit a health care request and that he would look into the matter. Defendant Heinzlere asked the psych tech to verify the medical chrono. (Id., ¶ 8.) Later that same day, Plaintiff turned in a health care request to the psych tech and an unnamed correctional officer who was standing nearby said, "Oh! [You are] the inmate giving us problems about your housing." The correctional officer then stated "good luck" under his breath. (Id., ¶ 9.)

On July 14, 2009, at approximately 11:00 p.m., Plaintiff had a seizure and fell out of the top bunk, hitting his head and shoulder on the cement floor. (Id., ¶ 10.) Plaintiff was transported to Tehachapi Valley Healthcare Center where he was treated for a concussion and a bruised shoulder. (Id., ¶¶ 10, 13.) Plaintiff returned to the prison, was moved to the maximum security yard, and given a bottom bunk. (Id., ¶ 10.)

On July 16, 2009, Plaintiff received a copy of a rule violation report, written by Defendant Sizelove, falsely stating he refused to house with inmate Inge. (Id., ¶ 11.)

Plaintiff brings suit against Defendants C. Sizelove, J. Heinzler, and two unidentified correctional officers, in their official and individual capacities, for being deliberately indifferent to his health and safety in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Id., ¶¶ 2-5.) He is seeking compensatory, nominal, and punitive damages. (Id., ¶¶ 17-21.)

III. Discussion

A. Eighth ...

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