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Sigfredo Montoya v. Dr. Raman

June 19, 2012

SIGFREDO MONTOYA,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
DR. RAMAN, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS FOR FAILURE TO EXHAUST BE DENIED (Doc. 17) FIFTEEN-DAY OBJECTION PERIOD

Findings and Recommendations Addressing Motion to Dismiss

I. Procedural History

Plaintiff Sigfredo Montoya, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on September 16, 2010. This action for damages is proceeding on Plaintiff's verified complaint against Defendants Raman and Howard for violation of the Eighth Amendment arising out of their failure to treat his severe pain from a testicular infection. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. (Docs. 9 and 11.)

On February 13, 2012, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust the available administrative remedies. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b). Plaintiff filed an opposition on March 5, 2012.*fn1 Defendants did not file a reply and the motion has been submitted on the record. Local Rule 230(l).

II. Legal Standard

Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995, "[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under [42 U.S.C. § 1983], or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted." 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Prisoners are required to exhaust the available administrative remedies prior to filing suit. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 211, 127 S.Ct. 910 (2007); McKinney v. Carey, 311 F.3d 1198, 1199-1201 (9th Cir. 2002). Exhaustion is required regardless of the relief sought by the prisoner and regardless of the relief offered by the process, Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741, 121 S.Ct. 1819 (2001), and the exhaustion requirement applies to all suits relating to prison life, Porter v. Nussle, 435 U.S. 516, 532, 122 S.Ct. 983 (2002).

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has an administrative grievance system for prisoners to appeal any departmental decision, action, condition, or policy having an adverse effect on prisoners' welfare. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3084.1. During the relevant time period, the process was initiated by submitting a CDC Form 602 describing the problem and the action requested, tit. 15, § 3084.2(a), and appeal had to be submitted within fifteen working days of the event being appealed or of the receipt of the unacceptable lower level decision, tit. 15, § 3084.6(c).*fn1 Up to four levels of appeal may be involved, including the informal level, first formal level, second formal level, and third formal level, also known as the director's level. Tit. 15, § 3084.5. In order to satisfy section 1997e(a), California state prisoners are required to use this process to exhaust their claims prior to filing suit. Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 85-86, 126 S.Ct. 2378 (2006); McKinney, 311 F.3d at 1199-1201.

The failure to exhaust in compliance with section 1997e(a) is an affirmative defense under which Defendants have the burden of raising and proving the absence of exhaustion. Jones, 549 U.S. at 216; Wyatt v. Terhune, 315 F.3d 1108, 1119 (9th Cir. 2003). The failure to exhaust is subject to an unenumerated Rule 12(b) motion, and in resolving the motion, the Court may look beyond the pleadings and decide disputed issues of fact. Morton v. Hall, 599 F.3d 942, 945 (9th Cir. 2010); Wyatt, 315 F.3d at 1119-20. If the Court concludes that Plaintiff has failed to exhaust, the proper remedy is dismissal without prejudice. Jones, 549 U.S. at 223-24; Lira v. Herrrera, 427 F.3d 1164, 1175-76 (9th Cir. 2005).

III. Discussion

A. Summary of Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment Claim*fn2 On March 16, 2009, Plaintiff was admitted to an outside hospital for a serious testicular infection, which caused him severe pain. Upon his release from the hospital, Plaintiff was not seen by a doctor at the prison until April 13, 2009, despite having been told that he would be seen in three days. Prison staff also refused to fill the outside urologist's order for pain medication, leaving Plaintiff without any pain relief.

Once Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Raman a month later, he was prescribed medication, but he alleges that it was not the medication recommended by the urologist and it did not alleviate his pain. Additionally, Plaintiff is allergic to codeine and that was what Defendant Raman prescribed in part, despite documentation of the allergy in Plaintiff's medical file.

Plaintiff alleges that in the month between being discharged from the hospital and seeing Defendant Raman, he asked Defendant Howard on three occasions for medical attention for his pain, but Defendant refused to provide any care or allow him to see the doctor. Plaintiff alleges that as a result of Defendants ...


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