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George Berry Strong v. O. Beregovskaya

August 31, 2011


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


I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff George Berry Strong ("Plaintiff") is a former state prisoner proceeding pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants removed this action from Kings County Superior Court on May 7, 2009. (ECF No. 1.) Currently pending before the Court is the First Amended Complaint, filed July 12, 2010. (ECF No. 13.)

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

When Plaintiff was transferred to the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in Corcoran, he was informed that he needed to contact medical staff to receive a chrono to wear his personal tennis shoes. In December 2008, Plaintiff attempted to wear his tennis shoes to visiting and was advised by staff that he could not wear his personal tennis shoes in the visiting area.*fn1 (First Amended Compl. 7, ECF No. 13.) On January 29, 2008, Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Beregovskaya and explained that he needed to be allowed to wear his personal tennis shoes to visiting to prevent additional pain and suffering due to his foot condition. Defendant Beregovskaya told Plaintiff that he could be seen by the foot specialist. Plaintiff requested that Defendant Beregovskaya update Plaintiff's medical chrono so he could wear his shoes to visiting. Defendant Beregovskaya informed Plaintiff that she would not update his chrono, and he would need to see the foot specialist. (Id. at 8.)

Plaintiff saw the foot specialist on March 27, 2008, who recommended that Plaintiff have a soft shoe chrono. (Id.) Plaintiff saw Defendant Beregovskaya who advised Plaintiff that she was not authorized to issue medical chronos and that he was allowed to wear his shoes everywhere, except in the visiting area. Defendant wrote a letter to the warden and prison law office complaining that Defendant Beregovskaya had issued him a medical chrono, but defeated the purpose of the chrono because he was not allowed to wear his shoes in the visiting area. Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant Beregovskaya that was not processed as required by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation regulations. (Id. at 9.)

On July 30, 2008, Plaintiff was examined by an orthopedic service, and it was determined that he needed orthopedic shoes. After thirteen months of having to wear state issued shoes, Plaintiff received orthopedic shoes. (Id.) On July 22, 2008, Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Beregovskaya and she spoke to him in an "unprofessional, unethical, vindictive, retaliatory, maliciously, sadistic voice." (Id. at 10.) Defendant Beregovskaya refused to examine Plaintiff and threatened to change his pain medication, refer him to a specialist, and request that his neck be operated on. Plaintiff went and called his wife. Plaintiff's wife contacted the ombudsman, chief medical officer, and warden's office and within several hours Plaintiff was seen by a physician's assistant who requested x-rays and prescribed pain medication. (Id.)

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Beregovskaya exhibited deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs resulting in damage to his feet, left shoulder and arm, and other injuries. Plaintiff is seeking monetary damages.

For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's allegations fail to state a cognizable claim against Defendant Beregovskaya for deliberate indifference in violation of the Eighth Amendment. It will be recommended that Plaintiff's federal claims be dismissed, with prejudice, and this action be remanded to state court for resolution of any remaining state law claims.

III. Discussion

"[T]o maintain an Eighth Amendment claim based on prison medical treatment, an inmate must show "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.'" Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976)). Deliberate indifference is shown where the ...

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