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Charles Johnson v. A. Figueroa et al

January 25, 2011


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



On June 30, 2010, Plaintiff Charles Johnson, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a first amended complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against seven prison officials at the Calipatria State Prison. (Doc. 72, ("FAC").) Plaintiff has sued Defendants in their individual capacities. (Id. at 2-3.) He alleges Defendants conspired to delay or deny medical care from November 21, 2007 through January 2, 2008. (Id. at 1, 5.) He further contends Defendants violated his constitutional rights by failing to transport him to physical therapy appointments in waist chains as required by his medical disability. (Id. at 4-9.) Plaintiff seeks damages and an injunction to prevent Defendants from denying him medical treatment. (Id. at 12.)

On September 3, 2010, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint. (Doc. 82 ("MTD").) Plaintiff filed an Opposition on October 15, 2010.*fn1 (Doc. 91 ("Pl.'s Opp'n").) On October 18, 2010, Defendants filed a Reply in response to Plaintiff's Opposition. (Doc. 93 ("Defs' Reply").) After thorough review of the parties' papers and all supporting documents, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.


A. Plaintiff's Specific Factual Allegations

In September 2006, while incarcerated at Calipatria State Prison, Plaintiff suffered a stroke, resulting in paralysis and weakness in the right side of his body. (FAC at 4.) Defendant Dr. D. Hjerpe, Plaintiff's primary care physician, proscribed physical therapy sessions at Pioneers Memorial Hospital to treat the residual symptoms of his stroke. (Id.) In order to accommodate his disability, Plaintiff alleges a "medical chrono" was issued authorizing medical staff to transport Plaintiff to his appointments by gurney in an ambulance. (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff claims the medical chrono "implicitly exempted him from the placement of the black box." (Id.) (internal parenthesis omitted).

On November 21, 2007, Defendant A. Figueroa was assigned to transport Plaintiff to his physical therapy appointment. (FAC at 6.) Notwithstanding his medical chrono, Plaintiff contends Figueroa refused to transport him unless he submitted to wearing handcuffs and a "black box," a cover placed over handcuffs to prevent an inmate from picking the lock. (Id.) In order to attend physical therapy, Plaintiff submitted to use of the restraints. (Id. at 6.) After five minutes, however, the pain was so severe that Plaintiff insisted Figueroa remove the black box. (Id.) Figueroa consulted with her immediate supervisor, Defendant Sargent Preciado, who instructed her to use the restraints. (Id. at 5-6.) Because Plaintiff refused to allow her to do so, Figueroa did not transport him to his appointment. (Id. at 6.)

At some point thereafter, Defendant Hjerpe became aware of the incident and Plaintiff's concerns regarding the black box. (FAC at 6.) Thus, on December 4, 2007, Dr. Hjerpe issued a second medical chrono exempting Plaintiff from the black box restraints. (Id.) That same day, Plaintiff alleges he suffered an episode of muscle spasms so painful and severe that he was taken to the emergency room. (Id.) Plaintiff claims he had never suffered an episode of muscle spasms prior to November 21, 2007, nor has he experienced one since resuming physical therapy. (Id.) Dr. Hjerpe was unable to ascertain the cause of the muscle spasms. (Id.)

On December 5, 2007, Defendant T. Davis was assigned to transport Plaintiff to his physical therapy appointment. (FAC at 7.) Despite Plaintiff's medical exemption, Plaintiff alleges Davis also refused to transport him unless he submitted to use of the black box. (Id.) Once again, Sargent Preciado instructed Davis to use the black box restraints. (Id.) Plaintiff further contends Defendant G. Stratton, the transportation unit supervisor, ordered his subordinates to disregard Dr. Hjerpe's December 4, 2007 medical chrono. (Id.) As a result, Plaintiff claims Defendant E. Orduno stopped scheduling his physical therapy appointments. (Id. at 8.) Plaintiff also claims Dr. Hjerpe was aware of Stratton's order, but took no further action. (Id.)

Plaintiff then wrote Defendant R. Delgado, Associate Warden of Calipatria State Prison, regarding his medical treatment. (FAC at 8.) Plaintiff contends Delgado found the transportation officers were acting appropriately and took no further action. (Id.) On December 20, 2007, Plaintiff's administrative appeal regarding his treatment was granted at the second level of review. (Id.) Thus, Plaintiff resumed physical therapy on January 2, 2008. (Id. at 1.) However, as a result of Defendants' conduct, Plaintiff claims his recovery has been set back and he has suffered unnecessary pain. (FAC at 9.)

On March 7, 2008, Plaintiff was transferred to Kern Valley State Prison, where he currently resides. (FAC at 4.)

B. Defendants' Requests for Judicial Notice

Defendants request judicial notice of various facts and records relating to Plaintiff's medical care in support of their Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 82-6.) Specifically, Defendants request judicial notice of the following facts: (1) "Plaintiff was transported to Pioneers Medical Center on September 11, 18, and 25, 2007; October 1, 3, 5, 9, 12, 15, 17, 19, and 22, 2007; and November 1, and 14, 2007;" (2) "On November 30, 2007, Plaintiff was transported to a physical therapy appointment in waist chains;" (3) "Plaintiff's medical file includes an Interdisciplinary Progress Note, dated December 4, by Dr. Hjerpe noting, '[h]e was having problems [with] being cuffed in front so he is now on a waist chain chrono;'" (4) "The Comprehensive Accommodation Chrono issued by Dr. Hjerpe noting 'waist chains' is dated December 5, 2007;" (5) "Plaintiff's letter to Defendant Delgado is dated December 25, 2007, and in this letter Plaintiff advised Defendant Delgado that his grievance about having to use the black box was granted on December 20, 2007;" and (6) "Plaintiff's medical records provide" information on his ability to care for himself in January, 2008. (Doc. 82-6 at 2-4.) In regards to each request, Defendants contend the information is contained in the court record because the facts at issue have been alleged in various declarations submitted by the parties in this case. Id. Defendants also argue the truth of the facts asserted in the parties' declarations are capable of ready and accurate determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.*fn2 Id.

Rule 201(b) of the Federal Rules of Evidence provides: "A judicially noticed fact must be one not subject to reasonable dispute in that it is either (1) generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the trial court or (2) capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned." In other words, a court may take judicial notice of facts that "only an unreasonable person would insist on disputing." Walker v. Woodford, 454 F. Supp. 2d 1007, 1022 (S.D. Cal. 2006) (internal quotations omitted). Therefore, while the Court may take judicial notice that the parties have filed declarations and that the facts quoted above are included in those declarations, the Court cannot take judicial notice of the truth of the facts asserted therein. See M/V American Queen v. San Diego Marine Constr. Corp., 708 F.2d 1483, 1491 (9th Cir. 1983) (noting a court may take judicial notice of court records, but it may not take judicial notice of the truth of the contents of all documents found therein); see also Walker, 454 F. Supp.2d at 1022. Accordingly, Defendants' requests for judicial notice are DENIED.


A. Rule 12(b)(6) Motions to Dismiss

A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the claims in the complaint. See Davis v. Monroe County Bd. of Educ., 526 U.S. 629, 633 (1999). "The old formula --- that the complaint must not be dismissed unless it is beyond doubt without merit --- was discarded by the Bell Atlantic decision [Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 563 n.8 (2007)]." Limestone Dev. Corp. v. Vill. of Lemont, 520 F.3d 797, 803 (7th Cir. 2008).

A complaint must be dismissed if it does not contain "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 570. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, __ U.S. __, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). The court must accept as true all material allegations in the complaint, as well as reasonable inferences to be drawn from them, and must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Cholla Ready Mix, Inc. v. Civish, 382 F.3d 969, 973 (9th Cir. 2004) (citing Karam v. City of ...

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