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James W. Brammer v. James A. Yates

November 22, 2011



I. Procedural History

At the time of filing James W. Brammer ("Plaintiff") was a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On September 17, 2007, Plaintiff filed his original complaint. Doc. 1. On May 9, 2009, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint with leave to amend for failure to comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Procedure. Doc. 16. On July 14, 2008, Plaintiff filed the first amended complaint. Doc. 20. On October 9, 2009, the Court dismissed certain claims and defendants and dismissed Plaintiff's first amended complaint with leave to amend. Doc. 24. On June 7, 2011, the Court struck Plaintiff's second amended complaint as incomplete and ordered Plaintiff to file a complete second amended complaint. Doc. 45. After two extensions of time, Plaintiff filed the second amended complaint on September 19, 2011, which is currently before the Court. Doc. 51.

II. Screening

A. Screening Standard

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).

"'Under § 1915A, when determining whether a complaint states a claim, a court must accept as true all allegations of material fact and must construe those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.'" Hamilton v. Brown, 630 F.3d 889, 892-93 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Resnick v. Warden Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir.2000). "'Additionally, in general, courts must construe pro se pleadings liberally.'" Id. A complaint, or portion thereof, should only be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted "if it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations." See Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)); see also Synagogue v. United States, 482 F.3d 1058, 1060 (9th Cir. 2007); NL Industries, Inc. v. Kaplan, 792 F.2d 896, 898 (9th Cir. 1986). In determining whether to dismiss an action, the Court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, and construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421-22 (1969); Daniels-Hall v. National Educ. Ass'n, 629 F.3d 992, 998 (9th Cir. 2010).

B. Plaintiff's Complaint

Plaintiff, James Brammer ("Plaintiff"), is currently an inmate of Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles California. Doc. 51 at 4. During the time relevant to this action, Plaintiff was an inmate in Pleasant Valley State Prison ("PVSP"). Doc. 51 at 4. Plaintiff brings this civil suit against: 1) Warden, James A. Yates; 2) Chief Medical Officer, R. Chapnick; 3) Doctor N. Kushner; 4) Doctor Salazar; and 5) Medical Technical Assistant ("MTA") Harper, all of whom are employees at PVSP. Doc. 51 at 4-5.

According to Plaintiff, on or about June 6, 2003, Plaintiff arrived at PVSP and was assigned to work at the "D" Facility dining hall. Doc. 51 at 5. Plaintiff states that he was a kitchen "line backer" which required Plaintiff to lift and carry over one-thousand pounds of food each day. Doc. 51 at 5. Plaintiff alleges that on or about February 2, 2005, while performing his kitchen duties, a PVSP staff member unknowingly stepped in front of Plaintiff, causing Plaintiff to stumble and injure his right hand. Doc. 51 at 5-6. Plaintiff immediately signed up to receive medical attention and after Dr. Kim examined Plaintiff's hand, Dr. Kim informed Plaintiff that he would need to see a specialist. Doc. 51 at 6. Plaintiff alleges that he suffered severe pain in his right hand and that his hand would "lock and be rendered useless." Doc. 51 at 6.

In attempting to obtain medical treatment, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Kushner and Salazar "refused to treat Plaintiff, stating that there was nothing wrong with his hand and ordered him to continue work." Doc. 51 at 6. Plaintiff filed a 602 grievance in order to obtain medical treatment for his injured hand. Doc. 51 at 6. According to Plaintiff, he was told by Defendant Kushner that if Plaintiff withdrew the 602 grievance, Plaintiff would receive the medical treatment his injured hand required. Doc. 51 at 6.

Then Plaintiff withdrew his grievance and signed up, once again, to receive medial treatment and this time Defendant Salazar stated "there's nothing wrong with your hand." Doc. 51 at 6. Plaintiff then informed Defendant Salazar that his hand was not operational and it caused him severe pain. Doc. 51 at 6. Plaintiff alleges that during this meeting with Defendant Salazar, Defendant Harper entered the room and ordered Plaintiff to "shut up" and leave the clinic and stated that the Warden had given Defendant Harper authority to refuse treatment to anyone he desired. Doc. 51 at 6.

Plaintiff states that he then filed a 602 grievance which was handled by Defendant Chapnick and Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Chapnick stated false information in Plaintiff's grievance by stating that no medical issue existed. Doc. 51 at 7. Plaintiff alleges that he was in such extreme pain that he wrote to the Warden, Defendant Yates, multiple letters for help, yet Defendant Yates never responded. Doc. 51 at 7. Plaintiff alleges that he suffered extreme pain throughout the year of 2005 despite numerous grievances and letters submitted and Plaintiff was forced to continue work in the kitchen. Doc. 51 at 7. Plaintiff alleges that as a result of the PVSP staff's conduct, Plaintiff suffered further injuries to his right hand and acquired a new injury to his left wrists. Doc. 51 at 7 (citing Appendix A).

According to Plaintiff, in June 2006, Plaintiff was transferred to Avenal State Prison where Plaintiff was seen by an orthopedic surgeon in less than a month and was diagnosed with damage to the "flexor tendon" and underwent two surgeries correct the "flexor tendon" ...

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