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Daniel Schafer v. R. Gutierrez

October 27, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge


Screening Order

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1).

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 fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),(2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

"Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions," none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Pursuant to 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). "Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. However, "the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations." Neitze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). "[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled." Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).

II. Plaintiff's Claims

The events at issue in this action occurred at Pleasant Valley the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility ("CSATF") in Corcoran, where Plaintiff was previously housed. Plaintiff claims that he was subjected to inadequate medical care such that it violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Plaintiff names the following individual defendants:

R. Gutierrez, R.N; F. Soto, R.N.; Physician's Assistant Pierre; Health Care Appeals Coordinator M. Crum; Health Care Appeals Coordinator Umi; Komar, R.N.; John and Jane Doe nurses.

Plaintiff was housed at SATF from April 10, 2008, to September 22, 2009, when he was transferred to Pleasant Valley State Prison. Plaintiff alleges that in February of 2009, he began to submit requests to see a doctor. Plaintiff suffered from heartburn and "an upset stomach." Plaintiff's condition affected his eating, sleeping and bowel movements. Plaintiff received a ducat to see a nurse, and was told that he would see a doctor. Plaintiff was "ignored by medical officials" for 9 weeks while his condition worsened. By May 10, 2009, Plaintiff suffered from "extreme diarrhea" and weight loss. Plaintiff submitted a health care appeal to Appeals Coordinators Umi and Crum. They refused to process his appeals. (Compl. ¶ 4.)

On July 8, 2009, another appeal request was submitted. On July 10, 2009, a ducat was issued, to which Plaintiff was never called . On July 15, 2009, Plaintiff received a ducat to see nurse Gutierrez. Although Plaintiff alleges that he was given "no treatment whatsoever," he does allege that blood was drawn and a fecal sample was taken. Plaintiff was called back three weeks later and told that his specimen was insufficient and that he would have to provide another specimen. Plaintiff alleges that his condition worsened to the point that floor officers had to take Plaintiff to medical because he was defecating blood and could no longer eat. Plaintiff alleges that "medical" advised him that "we will check your white blood cell count and see you in two weeks." (Compl. ¶ 5.)

Plaintiff alleges that over the course of seven months, he lost a significant amount of weight, could not eat normally, defecated blood regularly, felt fatigued and weak, had mobility problems, heartburn, upset stomach and could not sleep. Plaintiff was ducated to medical on September 2, 2009, only to be told that he will be re-ducated. Plaintiff was never seen by a physician while at SATF. (Compl. ¶ 6.)

On September 22, 2009, Plaintiff was transferred to Pleasant Valley State Prison. At Pleasant Valley, Plaintiff was tested for helicobacter pylori. Plaintiff tested positive for H. pylori, with a level four times higher than the normal range. Plaintiff alleges that because of the delay by Corcoran medical staff in diagnosing and treating him, he developed cholitis, a permanent condition.

To state a claim under section 1983, a plaintiff must allege that (1) the defendant acted under color of state law and (2) the defendant deprived him of rights secured by the Constitution or federal law. Long v. County of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006). "A person deprives another of a constitutional right, where that person 'does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts, or omits to perform an act which [that person] is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made.'" Hydrick v. Hunter, 500 F.3d 978, 988 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978)). "[T]he 'requisite causal connection can be established not only by some kind of direct, personal participation in the ...

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