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David M. David v. C. Lopez

January 9, 2012

DAVID M. DAVID, PLAINTIFF,
v.
C. LOPEZ, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gregory G. Hollows United States Magistrate Judge

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Introduction

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court is defendant's motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) on the grounds that plaintiff's claims fail to state a claim for relief. Doc. 29.

This action continues on the first amended complaint alleging that plaintiff's rights were violated under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).*fn1 Plaintiff is mobility impaired and walks with a cane. On four separate occasions plaintiff was taken by a van one mile to the prison medical facility, but there were more inmates than seats and plaintiff was forced to stand. Inmates were seated in the van according to there queue in line, which was determined by the timing of the inmate's release from their building by the tower office. Plaintiff states that as a result of being forced to stand for the short ride, he suffered injuries to his back. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages only.

Motion to Dismiss

Legal Standard

In order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain more than a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action;" it must contain factual allegations sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007). "The pleading must contain something more...than...a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action." Id., quoting 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, pp. 235-36 (3d ed. 2004). "[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ___ U.S. ___, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id.

In considering a motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Rex Hospital Trustees, 425 U.S. 738, 740, 96 S. Ct. 1848 (1976), construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion and resolve all doubts in the pleader's favor. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421, 89 S. Ct. 1843, reh'g denied, 396 U.S. 869, 90 S. Ct. 35 (1969). The court will "'presume that general allegations embrace those specific facts that are necessary to support the claim.'" National Organization for Women, Inc. v. Scheidler, 510 U.S. 249, 256, 114 S.Ct. 798 (1994), quoting Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561, 112 S. Ct. 2130 (1992). Moreover, pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 92 S. Ct. 594 (1972).

ADA

Title II of the ADA "prohibit[s] discrimination on the basis of disability." Lovell v. Chandler, 303 F.3d 1039, 1052 (9th Cir. 2002). Title II provides that "no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subject to discrimination by such entity." 42 U.S.C. § 12132. Title II of the ADA applies to inmates within state prisons. Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections v. Yeskey, 524 U.S. 206, 118 S.Ct. 1952, 1955 (1998); see also Armstrong v. Wilson, 124 F.3d 1019, 1023 (9th Cir. 1997); Duffy v. Riveland, 98 F.3d 447, 453-56 (9th Cir. 1996).

In order to state a claim that a public program or service violated Title II of the ADA, a plaintiff must show: he is a "qualified individual with a disability"; he was either excluded from participation in or denied the benefits of a public entity's services, programs, or activities, or was otherwise discriminated against by the public entity; and such exclusion, denial of benefits, or discrimination was by reason of his disability. McGary v. City of Portland, 386 F.3d 1259, 1265 (9th Cir. 2004).

However, it is also important to emphasize that a disability alone is not the sole prerequisite for an ADA claim. It is not enough that defendants did not make plaintiff's life in prison more comfortable or easy in every respect in light of his disability. See Memmer v. Marin County Courts, 169 F.3d 630, 633 (9th Cir. 1999). Rather, plaintiff must show that defendants discriminated against him in terms of making prison programs and activities available to him when compared to non-disabled inmates. See Brown v. City of Los Angeles, 521 F.3d 1238, 1241 (9th Cir. 2008).

Plaintiff may bring a claim under Title II of the ADA against state entities for damages.*fn2 See Phiffer v. Columbia River Correctional Institute, 384 F.3d 791 (9th Cir. 2004).

However, the standard for recovery of such damages is deliberate indifference to plaintiff's rights under the ADA. Duvall v. County of Kitsap, 260 F.3d 1124, 1138 (9th Cir. 2001). "Deliberate indifference requires both knowledge that a harm to a federally protected right is ...


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