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Ricardo Valdez v. Correctional Officers Walker

March 29, 2011

RICARDO VALDEZ,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WALKER, GUFFEE AND VORON, ET AL., AND CSP-SACRAMENTO MEDICAL CLINICIANS DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David Alan Ezra United States District Judge

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S JUDICIAL NOTICE REQUEST

On September 11, 2009, Plaintiff Ricardo Valdez ("Plaintiff') proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis filed an amended complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On August 12, 2010, Defendants Walker, Guffee, and Voron (collectively, "Defendants") filed a Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. # 25.) After reviewing the supporting and opposing memoranda, the Court DENIES Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.

BACKGROUND

This matter involves a series of alleged incidents in which requests for medical attention made by Plaintiff Ricardo Valdez were "undermined as minimal, ignored, and deliberately delayed" over the course of approximately one year's time. (First Amended Complaint, "FAC," Doc. # 12 at 3.) Plaintiff is an inmate at the Mule Creek State Prison ("Mule Creek") in Ione, California. (Id. at 1.) Plaintiff's Amended Complaint centers on an April 17, 2006 event, when Plaintiff informed Defendant Walker sometime in the morning that he was experiencing severe chest pains and needed to see the medical clinicians. (Id. at 4.) According to Plaintiff, Walker indicated that he would call for help, but instead never returned. (Id.) At approximately 12:30 pm that day, Plaintiff notified two other officers not party to this case that he was experiencing numbness in his arm and hand. (Id.) Plaintiff was placed in handcuffs and escorted down the hall, where he collapsed. (Id. at 4--5.) Plaintiff was taken to the infirmary on a gurney, given pain medication, and released. (Id. at 5.)

Plaintiff also alleges that sometime prior to the April 17, 2006 event, Plaintiff notified Defendants Guffee and Voron that he was experiencing chest pains. (Id. at 3--4.) According to Plaintiff, Guffee told Plaintiff to wait for the routine medical walkthrough, which would have been in approximately three hours, and Voron replied "You're not dead, so you can wait" when Plaintiff protested the three hour wait. (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants continued to neglect his medical needs through February 2007. (Id. at 5.) In particular, Plaintiff alleges that he suffered a massive heart attack that required surgery in February 2007. (Id., Ex. A.)

On August 22, 2008, Plaintiff filed the original Complaint, alleging that a "Jane Doe" was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs when she transported him to receive medical attention using a gurney instead of vehicle transportation. (Doc. # 1.) In an Order filed on August 26, 2009, this Court dismissed the Complaint with leave to amend. (Doc. # 11). The Court determined that Plaintiff failed to raise a claim for deliberate indifference under the Eighth Amendment as to Jane Doe. (Id. at 5--8.) Plaintiff was granted 30 days within which to file an amended complaint.

On September 11, 2009, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint ("FAC"). (FAC, Doc. # 12.) The FAC alleges that Plaintiff's Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated and seeks compensation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On October 5, 2009, this Court filed an Order and Order Dismissing in Part Plaintiff's FAC, whereby Plaintiff's Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment Claims were dismissed. (Doc. # 13.) Pursuant to the aforementioned Order, only Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim remains.

On August 12, 2010, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's FAC as against Defendants Walker, Guffee, and Voron alleging that Plaintiff did not exhaust his administrative remedies. (Mot., Doc. # 25.) On August 31, 2010, Plaintiff filed an Opposition. (Opp'n, Doc. # 26.) On September 10, 2010, Defendants filed a Reply. (Reply, Doc. # 29.) On February 3, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Motion for the Court to Judicial Notice of Relevant Case Law of Administrative Appeal ("Judicial Notice Request"), which the Court here DENIES.*fn1 (Doc. #33.)

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Exhaustion is an affirmative defense with respect to which a defendant has the burden of proof; it should be raised in an "unenumerated" Rule 12(b) motion to dismiss rather than in a motion for summary judgment. Wyatt v. Terhune, 315 F.3d 1108, 1119 (9th Cir. 2003). In deciding an unenumerated motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust non-judicial remedies under Rule 12(b), the court may look beyond the pleadings and decide disputed issues of fact. Id. at 1119-20. If the district court concludes that the prisoner has not exhausted the relevant prison administrative process, the proper remedy is dismissal of the claim. Id. at 1120.

DISCUSSION

I. PLRA Requirements

The Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 ("PLRA") amended 42 U.S.C. § 1997e to provide that "[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under [42 U.S.C. § 1983], or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted." 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Although the district court at one time had discretion to permit a case to proceed without exhaustion, exhaustion in prisoner cases covered by § 1997e(a) is now mandatory. See Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516 (2002). All available remedies must be exhausted; those remedies "need not meet federal standards, nor must they be 'plain, speedy, and effective.'" Id. (citation omitted). Even when the prisoner seeks relief not available in grievance proceedings, notably money damages, exhaustion is still a prerequisite to bringing suit. Id.; Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741 (2001). Exhaustion is a prerequisite to all inmate suits about prison life, whether they involve general circumstances or particular episodes, and whether they allege excessive force or some other wrong. Porter, 534 U.S. at 532; see also McKinney v. Carey, 311 F.3d 1198, 1199-00 (9th Cir. 2002) (per curiam) (requiring prisoners to exhaust prison grievance procedure before, not after, filing suit in federal court). Moreover, the United States Supreme ...


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