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Rubin Lawrence Duckett v. M. Ruiz; L. Schemehorn; A. Chritionson; W. Beauchemin

June 29, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Anthony J. BattagliaU.S. District Judge


Presently before the Court are Defendants' two motions to dismiss (Doc. Nos. 33, 34), Plaintiff's motion for a sixty-day continuance (Doc. No. 47), and Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend the Complaint (Doc. No. 49).*fn1 For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS both motions to dismiss with leave to amend, DENIES the motion for a continuance, and DENIES AS MOOT the motion for leave to amend.


On January 19, 2011, Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. No. 1.) On January 19, 2011, Plaintiff also filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). (Doc. No. 2.) On March 21, 2011, the Court granted

Plaintiff's IFP motion and sua sponte dismissed Plaintiff's Complaint with leave to amend for failure to state a claim. (Doc. No. 7.) On May 5, 2011, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint (Doc. No.12), and on December 9, 2011, he filed a Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"). (Doc. No. 32.) In the SAC, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights when Plaintiff allegedly did not receive proper medical care relating to the surgical removal of a "suprapubic tube." (Doc. No. 32 at 6.) Plaintiff asks for relief in the form of (1) "[a]n injunction preventing defendants as well as other prison officials from abusing the federally protected rights of inmates in the future"; (2) an injunction preventing "retaliation by prison officials"; (3) general damages in the sum of $250,000; (4) punitive damages in the sum of $500,000; and (5) special damages in the sum of $250,000. (Id. at 46.) On January 20, 2012, Defendants L. Schemehorn, A. Chritionson, and W. Beauchemin filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. (Doc. No. 33.) On the same day, Defendant M. Ruiz filed a separate motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. (Doc. No. 34.) Plaintiff failed to file an opposition to either motion with the Court, but he apparently served an opposition on Defendant Ruiz, which Ruiz attached to his reply filed on March 20, 2012. (Doc. No. 40.) On March 21, 2012, Defendants Schemehorn, Chritionson, and Beauchemin filed their reply (Doc. No. 41), and to the Court's knowledge, Plaintiff has not opposed their motion to dismiss.

Legal Standard

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) (2009). A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure tests the legal sufficiency of the claims asserted in the complaint. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6); Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 731 (9th Cir. 2001). The court must accept all factual allegations pled in the complaint as true, and must construe them and draw all reasonable inferences from them in favor of the nonmoving party. Cahill v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337--38 (9th Cir.1996). To avoid a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, rather, it must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). 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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at


"The unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain upon incarcerated individuals under color of law constitutes a violation of the Eighth Amendment." Touguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1056 (9th Cir. 2004) (quoting McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1992)). A prison official's deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain proscribed by the Eighth Amendment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). "To establish an Eighth Amendment violation, a prisoner must satisfy both the objective and subjective components of a two-part test." Touguchi, 391 F.3d at 1057 (quoting Hallet v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 744 (9th Cir. 2002)) (internal quotation marks omitted). First, it must be shown "that the prison official deprived the prisoner of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities." Id. Second, the prisoner must show that "the prison official acted with deliberate indifference in doing so." Id. A prison official acts with deliberate indifference only when the prison official "knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health and safety." Id. (quoting Gibson v. County of Washoe, Nevada, 290 F.3d 1175, 1187 (9th Cir. 2002)). Under this standard, "the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994). "This subjective approach focuses only on what a defendant's mental attitude actually was." Touguchi, 391 F.3d at 1057 (quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 839 (1979)) (internal quotation marks omitted). An accident is not on that basis alone to be characterized as wanton infliction of unnecessary pain. Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104.

Similarly, in the medical context, an inadvertent failure to provide medical care does not constitute an unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain. Id. at 105-106. "Thus, a complaint that a physician has been negligent in diagnosing or treating a medical condition does not state a valid claim of medical mistreatment under the eighth amendment." Id. at 106. Medical malpractice is not a constitutional violation simply because the victim is a prisoner. Id. at 106.

Count I

In count one of the SAC, Plaintiff alleges that by not removing his suprapubic catheter sooner, Defendant Ruiz acted with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs. (Doc. No. 32 at 6.) Plaintiff alleges that because of Defendant's actions he developed an infection. (Id.) In his motion, Defendant Ruiz argues that although Plaintiff's Complaint is "styled as a section 1983 claim, the allegations against her sound in professional negligence." (Doc. No. 34 at 11.) Defendant also argues that assuming Plaintiff "did not receive the exact treatment he believes he should have received from Dr. Ruiz, that outcome does not amount to deliberate indifference." (Id. at 12.) In his opposition, Plaintiff argues that Defendant knew about his "serious medical need" to have the catheter removed but failed to take action soon enough, resulting in an infection. (Doc. No. 40 at 5.) The Court does not find Plaintiff's argument persuasive. Plaintiff fails to provide facts that demonstrate that Ruiz acted with deliberate indifference. At most Plaintiff's claims against Defendant are that of negligence or medical malpractice. As discussed above, a claim of medical malpractice is not enough to state a valid claim of medical mistreatment under the eighth amendment. Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106. Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiff fails to state a claim against Defendant Ruiz.*fn2

Count Two

In count two of the SAC, Plaintiff alleges that when he returned from surgery he was placed in a prison cell that was "a hazard to his health and safety." (Doc. No. 32 at 13.) Plaintiff alleges that he informed Defendant Schemehorn of his concerns, but Schamehorn refused to allow him to change prison cells. (Id.) Plaintiff claims that Defendant's refusal constituted a deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. (Id.) Defendant argues that Plaintiff gives no ...

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