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Elonza Jesse Tyler v. Mike E. Knowles and Lori A Johnson

November 13, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Otis D. Wright, II United States District Judge






Elonza Jesse Tyler, a California prisoner, filed this action pro se and in forma pauperis on September 19, 2008, alleging that several employees and officers of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation violated his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. On December 30, 2010, this Court granted Defendants' motion seeking to have Tyler declared a vexatious litigant, on the basis that he had filed at least seven actions that were determined adversely against him in the seven years immediately preceding this action. (ECF No. 35.) As a result, the Court ordered that Tyler (1) was required thereafter to seek leave of the presiding judge before filing any new litigation; and (2) must furnish an $850 security for the benefit of Defendants in this action as a precondition to continuing with this case.


Tyler appealed this decision on January 14, 2011, and on September 21, 2012, 6 the Ninth Circuit vacated the Court's December 30 order and remanded for further 7 findings. The Ninth Circuit noted that while this Court had "found that Tyler met the 8 definition of a vexatious litigant under California law and the local rules of court, federal law requires that pre-filing review orders imposed on vexatious litigants must be 'narrowly tailored to the plaintiff's claimed abuses,' and before entering such an order, the district court is required to make 'explicit substantive findings as to the frivolousness or harassing nature of the plaintiff's filings." (ECF No. 52, at 2 (quoting O'Loughlin v. Doe, 920 F.2d 614, 618 (9th Cir. 1990).).

For the reasons discussed below, the Court specifically finds that Tyler's prior filings were frivolous, reaffirms its declaration that Tyler is a vexatious litigant, narrows its prior pre-filing order, and re-imposes the $850 security requirement as a precondition to maintaining this action.


Under California law, a vexatious litigant is any individual who, in "the immediately preceding seven-year period has commenced, prosecuted, or maintained in properia persona at least five litigations . . . that have been . . . finally determined adversely to the person." Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 391(b)(1); see also E.D. Cal. Local R. 65.1-151(b) (adopting California Code of Civil Procedure definition of vexatious litigants for purposes of requiring security for costs for vexatious litigants). Under this statute, a "litigation" includes a civil trial, a special proceeding, an appeal, and any "writ petitions other than habeas corpus or criminal matters." McColm v. Westwood Park Ass'n, 62 Cal. App. 4th 1211, 1219 (1998).

With this standard in mind, the Court proceeds to summarize Tyler's litigation history in federal court (limited to actions before the District Court for the Eastern 2 District of California and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals) since 2005. The Court 3 summarizes this history in chronological order based on the date on which the actions 4 were filed.

1.Tyler v. Alameida, No. 1:04-cv-06638-LJO-BAM (E.D. Cal. filed Sept. 6 20, 2004)

Plaintiff Elonza Jesse Tyler, a state prisoner at Avenal State Prison ("ASP") proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, sued Bradley Williams, M.D., a physician at the Doctors Hospital of Manteca; Nancy Erly, a registered nurse; and Dennis Smith, M.D., a physician at ASP, for violation of his Eighth Amendment rights.

On September 4, 2003, Tyler fell and injured his knee while housed at Folsom State Prison. (See Tyler v. Butler, No. CIV S-06-0861 JAM GGH P (E.D. Cal. filed Apr. 21, 2006), below for more regarding Tyler's injury.) On December 10, 2003, Tyler was taken to Doctors Hospital of Manteca for an orthopedic evaluation by Defendant Williams for pain and difficulty walking as a result of his knee injury. Tyler's complaint alleged that Williams failed to properly diagnose his injury and recommend a course of treatment, which Tyler equated to no treatment at all.

Dr. Williams moved for summary judgment on February 1, 2008.

On March 24, 2004, Tyler was transferred to ASP. By that time Tyler could no longer walk up or down stairs due to severe pain in both knees. He was seen by ASP physician Dr. Weed on April 6 and ASP physician Dr. Smith on May 4, and both physicians noted that Tyler's left knee was swollen and painful and that he needed an orthopedic consult.

On May 26, 2004, defendants Dr. Smith and Erly, a registered nurse, partially granted Tyler's inmate appeal, noting that he had been referred to an orthopedist and should have been seen within 90 days. Tyler was eventually seen by an orthopedic surgeon in October 2004 and received surgery on March 15, 2005.

In addition to its allegations regarding Dr. Williams, Tyler's complaint alleged that Erly and Dr. Smith acted with deliberate indifference to Tyler's serious medical needs by disregarding a substantial risk of serious and further harm because he was not promptly seen by an orthopedic specialist. Tyler also alleged Dr. Smith violated 4 policy by failing to promptly schedule his knee surgery in the ...

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