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Dajuan Jackson v. Dunham

March 22, 2013



Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in an action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants move to dismiss and for summary judgment. Dckt. Nos. 35, 38. For the reasons explained below, it is recommended that the motion to dismiss be granted, thereby dismissing all defendants except defendant Dunham from this case. It is further recommended that defendant Dunham's motion for summary judgment be denied.

I. The Complaint

This action proceeds on the verified complaint filed December 20, 2010. Dckt. No. 1. In the complaint, plaintiff asserts that some defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need for the psychiatric drug Wellbutrin and that, as a result of being denied Wellbutrin, plaintiff attempted "suicide by correctional peace officer," which resulted in the alleged exercise of excessive force by the remaining defendants. Id. at 7.*fn2 Specifically, plaintiff alleges as follows.

Plaintiff is an inmate in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the allegations of the complaint concern events that occurred while plaintiff was housed at High Desert State Prison ("HDSP"). Id. at 5; Dckt. No. 41 at 22. Defendant Dunham was a psychiatrist at HDSP. Dckt. No. 1 at 5. Defendant Krause was a psychologist there. Id. Defendants Kelly, Silva, Brown, and Hurd were HDSP correctional officers. Id. at 5-6. Defendant Stovall was a "CCMS Case Manager" at HDSP. Id. at 6.

On October 22, 2009, defendant Dunham inexplicably discontinued plaintiff's prescription for the psychotropic medication Wellbutrin. Id. at 7. Plaintiff learned that his medication had been discontinued the next day when he went to take his medication in the "pill line" and was told by the nurse dispensing medications that she had nothing for him. Id. On October 25, defendant Stovall told plaintiff that he had been scheduled to see defendant Dunham on October 22nd, but plaintiff had never been told of the appointment. Id. at 8.

Plaintiff complained "vociferously" to defendant Dunham that he was feeling suicidal. Id. Defendants Krause and Stovall were also aware that plaintiff was feeling suicidal. Id. Yet none placed plaintiff on suicide watch or sent him to the facility's Correctional Treatment Center. Id. Plaintiff's depression intensified and he heard voices, felt anxious, lost sleep, and became very agitated. Id.

Plaintiff submitted a health care services request form and was seen by defendant Dunham on November 5, 2009. Id. at 9. At the appointment, defendant Dunham told plaintiff "that CDCR executives had told him not to put the plaintiff back" on Wellbutrin. Id. Defendant

Dunham tried to prescribe other medication for plaintiff (Effexor), but plaintiff had tried that medication in the past and suffered bad side effects and so plaintiff's psychiatrist at the time had discontinued it. Id. Plaintiff told defendant Dunham that Wellbutrin was the only psychiatric medication that had proven effective in treating plaintiff's mental illness. Id. Plaintiff also told defendant Dunham that he was feeling very depressed and felt like committing suicide. Id. Defendant Dunham became hostile and responded, "Oh well." Id. Defendant Dunham then called custody staff to take plaintiff back to his cell. Id.

During the escort, plaintiff told the officers that he felt suicidal. Id. at 9-10. Per procedure, the officers took plaintiff to a holding cage in the program office. Id. at 10. Fifteen minutes later, defendant Stovall arrived and spoke briefly with plaintiff. Id. Although defendant Stovall did not speak to plaintiff about his suicidal feelings, defendant Stovall informed custody staff that plaintiff was clear to return to his cell. Id. Several days earlier, plaintiff had had a hostile conversation with defendant Stovall due to his belief that defendant Stovall was not qualified or authorized to assess whether an inmate posed a risk of suicide. Id.

On December 12, 2009, plaintiff felt anxious, depressed, and suicidal, and was hearing voices caused by withdrawal from Wellbutrin. Id. at 11. He accidentally dropped his tray of breakfast food. Id. Defendant Hurd refused plaintiff's respectful request for a replacement tray. Id. Plaintiff weighs 226 pounds and has a voracious appetite. Id. Defendant Hurd's denial of his breakfast caused plaintiff to become increasingly agitated and begin to hear his deceased wife's voice, which told him, for over 15 minutes, to commit suicide so he could be with her. Id.

When defendant Hurd returned to plaintiff's cell to retrieve the food trays, plaintiff withheld his tray so he could talk to the sergeant about being denied breakfast. Id. Defendant Hurd urged plaintiff to give him the food tray, but plaintiff said he would hold the tray until he was fed or spoke with the sergeant. Id. at 11-12. Defendant Hurd called defendant Brown from the bottom tier and told him that plaintiff was holding the food tray hostage. Id. at 12.

Defendant Brown asked the tower officer to open plaintiff's cell door. Id. Plaintiff became frightened as the cell door opened that he would be beaten or killed by the correctional officers. Id. In his delusional state, plaintiff concluded that the officers would be doing him a favor if they killed him. Id.

When defendant Brown tried to retrieve the food tray, "an altercation ensued; and in the process of the plaintiff['s] attempted suicide by correctional peace officer," defendants Brown and Hurd sprayed pepper spray into plaintiff's face "point blank." Id. Although plaintiff does not remember all the details because everything happened so quickly, plaintiff alleges that he was tackled and handcuffed by defendant Brown and placed in ankle restraints by Officer Hutson. Id. at 12-13. The hand and ankle restraints were too tight, creating welt marks, cutting off circulation, and breaking plaintiff's skin. Id. at 13. Defendants Brown, Hurd, Silva, and Kelly, and Officer Hutson placed themselves on plaintiff's back, pressing their weight into his body and causing plaintiff to lose consciousness. Id. When plaintiff regained consciousness, he heard one of the defendants say he hoped plaintiff would choke and die from the pepper spray. Id.

Although plaintiff had been subdued and restrained, defendants Kelly and Silva began to kick plaintiff in the face; plaintiff's lip bled and plaintiff experienced extreme pain. Id. at 13-14. One of the defendants took plaintiff's shoes. Id. at 14. Plaintiff yelled that he couldn't breathe and was dragged outside the building, where defendants Kelly and Silva threw plaintiff face-first into the snow. Id. They then picked plaintiff up and forced him to jog bare-foot, in a crouching position and ankle restraints, to the program office. Id.

At the program office holding cage, plaintiff was forced to kneel, and a correctional officer threw two 32 ounce cups of water at his back. Id. This was the sole attempt to decontaminate plaintiff after he was sprayed with the pepper spray, and plaintiff felt painful burning for the next several days. Id. at 14-15.

Later, plaintiff was taken to the Central Treatment Center at HDSP and seen by defendant Krause. Id. at 16. Plaintiff told defendant Krause that he had heard his wife's voice telling him to commit suicide. Id. at 16-17. Defendant Krause asked plaintiff if he was going to kill himself, and plaintiff said, "Yes." Id. at 17. Defendant Krause told plaintiff he would be alright and just needed to go to a cell and get some rest. Id. Plaintiff was taken to administrative segregation and placed in a filthy cell with a wet mattress. Id.

At some point, a psychiatric technician came to plaintiff's cell and found him with a noose he had made. Id. Plaintiff told the technician he was going to kill himself and was consequently taken to a holding cage and later "admitted to a crisis bed." Id. Plaintiff learned that defendant Krause had left a note stating that if plaintiff told staff he was ...

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