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Michael A. Omara v. Steven Smith

December 20, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge


I. Background

Plaintiff Michael A. Omara ("Plaintiff") is a prisoner in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"). Plaintiff is proceeding pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff initiated this action by filing his complaint in Tuolumne County Superior Court on February 25, 2011. Doc. 1. The action was removed to Federal Court on May 18, 2011. Defendants Steven Smith and Jack St. Clair remain in this action. Pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss, filed June 28, 2011. Defs.' Mot. Dismiss, Doc. 15. Plaintiff filed his opposition on September 21, 2011. Pl.'s Opp'n, Doc. 27. Defendants filed their reply on September 26, 2011. Defs.' Reply, Doc. 28. The matter is deemed submitted pursuant to Local Rule 230(l).

Defendants move to dismiss on the grounds that 1) Plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies as to Defendant St. Clair and 2) Plaintiff failed to state a claim as to each Defendant.

II. Summary Of Complaint

Plaintiff was incarcerated at Sierra Conservation Center ("SCC") in Jamestown, California, where the events giving rise to this action occurred. Plaintiff names as Defendants Doctor Steven Smith and Doctor Jack St. Clair. Plaintiff also names various Doe Defendants, supervisory officials who are successors and responsible for training and supervision.

Plaintiff alleges the following. On March 16, 2010, Plaintiff met with Defendant Smith to explain that he was having trouble breathing. Pl.'s Compl. ¶ 10. Plaintiff wanted to be sure that the breathing issues were not due to asthma. Id. Plaintiff explained that he suffered stomach pains that would not allow him to do any normal, every day physical activity. Id. Defendant Smith did not conduct an examination, but instead told Plaintiff to not work out so hard. Plaintiff was then sent back to his living quarters. Id. Plaintiff was issued a medical classification chrono, limiting his activity to light or limited duty jobs, not to work around noxious/hazardous fumes, and did not need medical consultation. Id. ¶ 11.

On March 22, 2010, Plaintiff had severe abdominal cramping, cold sweats, and blood vomiting. Id. ¶ 12. Plaintiff was not able to get to the bathroom on his own. Id. After several hours, Plaintiff was finally taken to the SCC infirmary for medical assistance. Id.

At the prison clinic, Plaintiff was considered a non-emergency, and provided only a wastebasket for vomit. Id. ¶ 13. Plaintiff was finally called in to see the doctor. Id. Plaintiff was given a shot of medication to stop the vomiting, and then was sent back to his living quarters without further examination. Id. Plaintiff still continued to vomit, and was in excruciating pain. Id. Plaintiff's suffering worsened, as he continued to have chills, vomiting of blood and bile, and cramping of his abdominal section. Id. ¶ 14. On March 23, 2010, inmates found Plaintiff collapsed on the floor in his bed area. Id. ¶ 15. Plaintiff was apparently cold to the touch, and vomit was all over the floor around Plaintiff. Id. Inmates eventually constructed a white flag to attract the attention of correctional officers. Id. A correctional officer and nurse arrived and placed Plaintiff in a wheelchair. Id. Plaintiff was then escorted to the SCC infirmary. Id.

Plaintiff was again made to wait several hours before he was eventually seen. Defendant St. Clair provided a different shot of medication, for nausea. Id. ¶ 16. Plaintiff pled for pain relief medication and that he not be returned to the dorm, however Defendant St. Clair sent him back without further treatment or evaluation. Id. Plaintiff's vomiting and pain continued to worsen. Id. Plaintiff became extremely pale, his lips white and dehydrated, and his skin clammy and sweaty. Id.

On March 24, 2010, Plaintiff was delirious and moaning for help. Id. ¶ 17. After much begging, Plaintiff made it out of the door with help from fellow inmates, and arrived at SCC medical. Id. Plaintiff was again treated as a routine, non-emergency. Id. ¶ 18. Medical staff attempted to take blood from Plaintiff's arm, but could not because it had coagulated. Id. Defendant St. Clair ordered x-rays be taken, which revealed that Plaintiff had a collapsed lung, and his intestinal tract was nearing rupture. Id.

Plaintiff was then rushed to a hospital in Manteca, California. Id. ¶ 19. At the hospital, doctors informed Plaintiff that he required surgery or he would die. Id. ¶ 20. Plaintiff consented to surgery, which resulted in the removal of several feet of intestine and bile and blood from his stomach. Id. The doctors informed Plaintiff that he had nearly died and should have been brought to the hospital much earlier. Id. ¶ 21. On April 2, 2010, Plaintiff returned to SCC from the outside hospital and placed in the prison's outpatient hospital unit. Id. ¶ 22.

Plaintiff was informed that he could obtain pain medication from the yard pill line. Id. Plaintiff was still suffering from excruciating pain following the surgery. Id. ¶ 23. Plaintiff attempted to obtain pain medication from the yard pill line, but was denied by nursing staff, who told Plaintiff to refrain from manipulating staff to obtain drugs. Id. Plaintiff attempted several times to obtain drugs without success. Id. ¶ 24. Plaintiff was denied pain medication for several weeks. Id.

On April 30, 2010, Plaintiff was scheduled to meet Defendant Smith. Id. ¶ 25. Plaintiff asked Defendant Smith if he recalled the March 16, 2010 visit with Plaintiff. Id. Defendant Smith responded that he did and apologized for not looking into the matter further. Id. Defendant Smith stated that he had not conducted a thorough exam because he thought Plaintiff's symptoms were related to asthma. Id. Defendant Smith acknowledged that a proper diagnosis and treatment at an earlier stage would have prevented much of Plaintiff's suffering. Id. Plaintiff cannot find any medical records documenting the March 16 or March 22 visits. Id. ¶ 26. Plaintiff ...

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