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Drew Martin v. County of San Diego

May 10, 2011

DREW MARTIN,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Michael M. Anello United States District Judge

ORDER RE: DEFENDANT STEPHANIE BUCHERT'S MOTION TO DISMISS PURSUANT TO FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6)

[Doc. No. 5]

Plaintiff Drew Martin filed the above-captioned civil rights action against Defendants San Diego County, San Diego County Deputy Sheriffs Hardy and Navarro, and Stephanie Buchert, M.D, alleging violations of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment and related state law claims. Defendant Buchert moves the Court to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against her. Plaintiff filed an opposition to the motion, to which Defendant Buchert replied. The Court took the motion under submission on the papers and without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1.d.1. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

BACKGROUND

On or about October 27, 2009, Plaintiff was arrested and booked on charges of violating California Health and Safety Code section 11379(a), a drug related offense.*fn1 On March 26, 2010, the San Diego County District Attorney filed a criminal complaint against Plaintiff based on the charge. On May 12, 2010, Plaintiff was booked into the San Diego County jail system. The next day he was transferred to the Vista Detention Facility, where he was housed in the general population until approximately July 11, 2010, when he was transferred to the administrative segregation unit ("ASU"). Plaintiff does not know why he was transferred to the ASU, as he has no arrests or convictions for violent behavior and was not disciplined while housed in general population.

While housed in the ASU, Plaintiff encountered a fellow inmate, Joaquin Martinez. Martinez was charged with murder, had known mental health problems, and was taking prescribed anti-psychotic medication. Martinez behaved bizarrely and threatened Plaintiff, prompting Plaintiff to submit a grievance form on September 9, 2010 advising the staff psychiatrist, Defendant Buchert, of Martinez's increasingly aggressive and hostile behavior. Several days later, Buchert informed Martinez that Plaintiff had submitted a grievance about him. Plaintiff overheard the conversation between Martinez and Buchert. Martinez also confronted Plaintiff directly with the information. Plaintiff immediately complained about the situation to Defendant Hardy, who ignored his complaint.

On September 19, 2010, Plaintiff approached Defendant Hardy again and requested a transfer away from Martinez. Another inmate had also complained about Martinez's threatening behavior, and that inmate was moved to another cell for protection. Defendant Hardy advised Plaintiff that he could not be moved at that time. Three days later, Martinez entered Plaintiff's cell and stabbed Plaintiff three times in the abdomen/torso and slashed Plaintiff's face. Plaintiff pressed the emergency button, but no deputies responded. Plaintiff exited his cell to seek medical attention. When he encountered the deputies, they tackled him to the ground and aggravated his wounds.

Plaintiff was evacuated to the trauma center at Scripps Memorial Hospital for surgery. Upon discharge, Plaintiff received instructions regarding the self-monitoring of his condition, including possible infection. Plaintiff was not allowed to recuperate in the hospital. He was returned to custody and taken to Central Jail, where he spent a few hours in the medical unit and was then transferred to the ASU. Several hours later, he vomited with traces of blood. Deputies ignored his requests for medical attention for at least three hours. Eventually he was taken to the medical unit and housed there for a week before being transferred back to the ASU.

On January 7, 2011, the San Diego County District Attorney filed a felony complaint against Martinez based on his assault on Plaintiff. Martinez is charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon by a prisoner, and possession of a deadly weapon at a penal institution.

Plaintiff filed the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging various violations of his constitutional rights by the County of San Diego, Defendant Buchert, and two individually named San Diego County Deputy Sheriffs. The County and Deputy Sheriffs answered Plaintiff's allegations. Defendant Buchert moves to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against her pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Buchert also moves to strike Plaintiff's claim against her for punitive damages under Rule 12(f).

DISCUSSION

1. Legal Standard

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, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (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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