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Matthew James Griffin v. Fernando Gonzales

June 27, 2012

MATTHEW JAMES GRIFFIN,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
FERNANDO GONZALES, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS, RECOMMENDING THAT THIS ACTION PROCEED WITH THE AMENDED COMPLAINT AGAINST DEFENDANT C/O CALDWELL FOR RETALIATION, AND THAT ALL OTHER CLAIMS AND DEFENDANTS BE DISMISSED UNDER RULE 18 OR FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM (Doc. 18.) OBJECTIONS, IF ANY, DUE IN THIRTY DAYS

I. RELEVANT PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Matthew James Griffin ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action was initiated by civil Complaint filed by Plaintiff on January 28, 2011, in the Sacramento Division of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. (Doc. 1.) On February 7, 2011, the case was transferred to the Fresno Division of the Eastern District of California. (Doc. 4.)

On January 10, 2012, the Court dismissed the Complaint for failure to state a claim, with leave to amend. (Doc. 14.) On February 17, 2012, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint, which is now before the Court for screening. (Doc. 18.)

II. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)). While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, courts "are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences," Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). 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. The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id.

III. SUMMARY OF AMENDED COMPLAINT

Plaintiff is presently incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison ("CSP") in Corcoran, California. The events at issue occurred at California Correctional Institution ("CCI") in Tehachapi, California, when Plaintiff was incarcerated there, and CSP. Plaintiff names thirty defendants and Doe Defendants #1-8.

Plaintiff alleges as follows in the Amended Complaint. Plaintiff has been diagnosed with "inoperable strabismus with significant alternating exotropia," which is a visual impairment causing intermittent double vision, monocularity, eye fatigue, reduced visual field, involuntary nystagmus, vertigo, and loss of depth perception. (Amd Cmp, Doc. 18 at ¶10.) Plaintiff claims he is a qualified individual with a disability within the meaning of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA) and Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("RA").

Plaintiff was transferred from New Mexico state custody to the custody of the CDCR on August 10, 2008. Prior to accepting custody of Plaintiff, defendants CDCR and the California Prison Health Care Services Receivership ("CPHCSR") knew of Plaintiff's medical conditions including visual impairment, back pain, joint pain, sciatica, and a prostate condition. Plaintiff alleges that the CDCR and CPHCSR accepted Plaintiff knowing they would be unable to meet Plaintiff's medical needs.

CALIFORNIA CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION -- 8/10/08 to 7/29/09

Plaintiff was housed at CCI from August 10, 2008 until July 29, 2009. Housing in Management Cell

From August 10, 2008 to August 27, 2008, Plaintiff was placed in a management cell by defendants Does #1-5 (Tactical Team), Lieutenant R. Miller, and C/O J. Avila, with only a four-foot long piece of unsanitary foam strip to sleep on, with blood-splattered walls and floor, a dirty sink and toilet, and insects crawling over his eating and sleeping area, and without a chair, desk, or cleaning supplies. Defendants Does #1-5 (Tactical Team), Lieutenant R. Miller, C/O J. Avila, Fernando Gonzales (Warden), Captain J. Hill, C/O L.C. Davis, C/O Howell, C/O Olmos, and CC-I Ruiz each personally visited Plaintiff at the management cell, witnessed Plaintiff's conditions of confinement, and failed to take corrective action to remedy the conditions. Plaintiff alleges that he developed a painful, debilitating rash over his entire body and extremities which required medical treatment, and that his pre-existing back pain, joint pain, and sciatica were aggravated, requiring Plaintiff to see a doctor.

Plaintiff's Medications

Plaintiff alleges that before he was transferred from New Mexico to California, doctors diagnosed him with sciatica and were treating his low back pain and joint pain with prescription medications. Plaintiff was also diagnosed with an enlarged prostate for which he was prescribed medication. From August 10, 2008 to July 27, 2009, defendants Dr. M. Ross, J. Walker, LVN Kim Hutto, Dr. Campbell, L. Ledford, Dr. A. Joaquin, Dr. Carver, LVN V. Landrus, Dr. M. Vu, and Does #6-8 repeatedly allowed Plaintiff's prostate medications to lapse without warning, changed his pain medication from Tylenol 3 to Gabapentin, and allowed the pain medication to lapse. The abrupt discontinuation of his prostate medication caused uncontrolled intermittent urination. The discontinuation of pain medication left Plaintiff with debilitating pain in his joints, lower back, and sciatic nerve. Plaintiff also became depressed with suicidal thoughts. Defendants Dr. M. Ross, J. Walker, LVN Kim Hutto, Dr. Campbell, L. Ledford, Dr. A. Joaquin, and Doe #8 also denied Plaintiff's requests for showers to wash after urinating on himself.

Plaintiff's Accommodation Chrono

On November 13, 2008, because of his visual impairment, Plaintiff was issued a Comprehensive Accommodation Chrono, limiting his accommodations to the ground floor and bottom bunk, with no heights greater than four feet. On January 16, 2009 and March 12, 2009, Plaintiff wrote to CDCR officials requesting privilege group and work group assignments for the partially disabled. On April 2, 2009, Plaintiff was assigned a staff assistant for having a serious vision problem. On May 3, 2009, Plaintiff filed an ADA appeal which was screened out for failing to attach documents.

Plaintiff's Appeal

On March 26, 2009, Plaintiff handed defendant C/O Caldwell a completed 602 prison appeal requesting more frequent showers, and C/O Caldwell studied the appeal as if reading it, tore up the appeal, and walked away with the nurse.

CORCORAN STATE PRISON -- 7/29/09 to Present

On July 28, 2009, Plaintiff was transferred from CCI to CSP.

Plaintiff's Requests for Disability Accommodations

During August 2009, Plaintiff slipped and fell while being escorted from the upstairs shower to the ground floor cell by staff. Medical staff then instructed Security that Plaintiff's Accommodation Chrono also meant no walking on stairs.

On January 11, 2010, defendant Dr. Neubarth cancelled Plaintiff's Chrono, stating that the ADA only covers blindness and Plaintiff's vision impairment does not meet the 20/200 threshold required by the CDCR. On January 12, 2010, defendant Dr. Edgar Clark approved Dr. Neubarth's decision in ...


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