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Richard Alan Lawson v. Sheriff Donald Youngblood

December 1, 2011

RICHARD ALAN LAWSON,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
SHERIFF DONALD YOUNGBLOOD, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael J. Seng United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER FINDING THAT PLAINTIFF'S SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT STATES A COGNIZABLE CLAIM (ECF No. 21)

SCREENING ORDER

Plaintiff Richard Alan Lawson ("Plaintiff"), a state prisoner in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"), is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's consent to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction was filed on June 18, 2009. (ECF. No. 5.)

Plaintiff filed this action on June 8, 2009. (ECF No. 1.) His original Complaint was dismissed with leave to amend for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 10.) He filed his First Amended Complaint on December 17, 2010. (ECF No. 11.) Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint also was dismissed with leave to amend for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 12.) The Court found that Plaintiff had pled all of the elements necessary to claims for inadequate medical care and excessive force under the Eighth Amendment, but failed to name any defendant against whom the claim was made; he named only "Doe" defendants. (Id.) After several delays, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint on November 7, 2011. (ECF No. 21.) The Second Amended Complaint is now before the Court for screening. The Court finds that it states cognizable claims.

I. SCREENING REQUIREMENTS

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).

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). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 1949-50.

III. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

Plaintiff, who is currently incarcerated at the California Institution for Men ("CIM") in Chino, California, brings this action alleging Defendants' use of excessive force and violation of Plaintiff's right to adequate medical care. Plaintiff names the following individuals as Defendants: Matthew Laird (Deputy Sheriff), Justin Sawaske (Deputy Sheriff), Embrey (Deputy Sheriff), Lewis V. Chang (Deputy Sheriff), Clemente (Licensed Vocational Nurse), and Kern County Jail. All Defendants are sued in their individual and official capacities.

Plaintiff alleges the following: On October 1, 2008, Plaintiff was arrested. He was held by the Kern County Sheriff's Department at their Receiving Facility until his arraignment. (Compl. at 4.) Plaintiff was placed in mechanical ankle restraints by Defendant Laird. Plaintiff is diabetic and, as a result, his feet and ankles were swollen; he informed Defendant Laird that the restraints were too tight and cutting off circulation to his feet. (Id.) Defendant Laird told him to be quiet and ordered him to walk into the holding cell. (Id.) Plaintiff repeated his complaint that the restraints were too tight and were cutting off circulation to his feet. (Id. at 5.) Defendant Laird pushed Plaintiff from behind causing Plaintiff to fall on his face and lose consciousness. (Id. at 5.) Defendants Sawaske and Embrey witnessed the incident, but did nothing to prevent Defendant Laird from using such force against Plaintiff. (Id. at 5.) When Plaintiff regained consciousness, he found that he had sustained severe injuries to his nose and mouth: his dentures were imbedded in his mouth, he had difficulty breathing through his nose, and he was bleeding heavily from his nose and mouth. (Id. at 5.)

Defendants Laird, Sawaske, and Embrey did not provide any assistance to Plaintiff, even though he asked for help. (Compl. at 5.) Defendant Chang, the shift sergeant, appeared soon thereafter. (Id.) Defendant Chang saw Plaintiff's condition and asked what had happened to him. (Id.) Defendants Laird, Sawaske, and Embrey falsely claimed that they did not known how Plaintiff had sustained his injuries. (Id. at 6.) After Defendant Chang inquired, Plaintiff was helped up from the floor. (Id.) Plaintiff informed Defendant Chang that he had been assaulted and was afraid the assault might continue. (Id.) Defendant Chang expressed concern for Plaintiff and said he should not be transferred, but he did not hold Defendants Laird, Sawaske, and Embrey responsible for their misconduct. (Id.) Defendant Chang eventually allowed Plaintiff to be transferred even though he was seriously injured and bleeding. (Id.)

Defendant Clemente, a nurse, observed Plaintiff's condition; Plaintiff begged her for help. (Compl. at 6.) Eventually, she threw gauze into his cell to help control the bleeding. (Id.) Nevertheless, Plaintiff continued to bleed and suffer extreme pain during his transfer from the Receiving Facility to the Lerdo Pretrial Detention Facility (Id. at 6-7.) When Plaintiff arrived at Lerdo Pretrial Detention Facility Jail, he was examined by a nurse practitioner who hospitalized him due to the seriousness of his injuries. (Compl. at 7.) Plaintiff was told that his injuries required immediate surgery. (Id. at 7.) A court order was issued directing that Plaintiff be held in "county" for surgery. (Id. at 7.) The court order was disregarded by officials at the Receiving Facility who transferred him to state prison. (Id.) The resultant delay in medical treatment caused Plaintiff additional pain and suffering and medical complications. (Id.) Plaintiff still cannot breathe correctly. (Id.) Plaintiff's injuries were so severe that he received surgery for his injuries as soon as he arrived at Lerdo Pretrial Detention Facility. (Id. at 8.)

Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, damages in the sum of $75,000, punitive damages in the sum of $225,000, and other equitable relief the ...


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