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Luther Jones, Jr v. California Medical Facility Custody Staff

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


April 12, 2013

LUTHER JONES, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
CALIFORNIA MEDICAL FACILITY CUSTODY STAFF, DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kendall J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff is a state prisoner, currently incarcerated at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility ("CSATF"), in Corcoran. On November 19, 2012, this court granted plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis and granted plaintiff leave to file a First Amended Complaint demonstrating, inter alia, that plaintiff had exhausted his administrative remedies before commencing this action. Plaintiff thereafter filed a proposed First Amended Complaint ("FAC"), and a motion for injunctive relief, as well as numerous other documents. For the reasons that follow, plaintiff's motion for injunctive relief is denied, and this action is dismissed without prejudice.

Plaintiff commenced this action while incarcerated at the California Medical Facility ("CMF"). The court initially recommended dismissal of this action based on plaintiff's express concession that he had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. (See Dkt. No. 13.) Due to this clear inadequacy, the court declined to impose the filing fee pursuant to plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis, and identified substantive deficiencies in plaintiff's complaint to guide him in the future.

On November 5, 2012, plaintiff filed a Notice of Change of Address, noting his transfer to CSATF, and a motion for appointment of counsel, which included plaintiff's objections to the undersigned's dismissal recommendation. Plaintiff asserted that he had exhausted his administrative remedies, but was unable to so demonstrate because he had been placed in administrative segregation, without access to his legal materials.

In an abundance of caution, this court, on November 19, 2012, vacated its dismissal recommendation, granted plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis, and granted plaintiff leave to file a First Amended Complaint subject to the exhaustion and substantive considerations previously emphasized by the court. The court denied plaintiff's request for appointment of counsel without prejudice. (Dkt. No. 21.) The court also ordered as follows (id. at 4):

Plaintiff may send or forward a copy of this order to the litigation coordinators at CSP-COR, San Quentin State Prison, and the California Medical Facility, in support of any request to obtain copies of his pertinent legal documents. In addition, the court will send plaintiff, together with a copy of this order, copies of all documents plaintiff has filed to date in this action, together with the court's prior order. Staff at CSP-COR are directed to provide plaintiff with an adequate opportunity to review all of these documents, and to prepare an amended complaint (or a request that this action be dismissed without prejudice).

Plaintiff responded by filing numerous documents,*fn2 a proposed FAC, and a motion for injunctive relief. The FAC challenges plaintiff's conditions of confinement at CMF, as well as plaintiff's alleged adverse transfer to CSP-SOL (leading to plaintiff's transfer to CSATF). Similar to his previous complaint, the FAC, even when read in conjunction with plaintiff's additional filings, fails to demonstrate that plaintiff exhausted his administrative remedies before bringing this action. While it is clear that plaintiff made several attempts to administratively challenge various conditions of his confinement, these disparate challenges (e.g., inadequate diet and medical care, denial of access to legal material and law library, confiscation of property) were submitted to various institutions over a period of time, and returned to plaintiff for a variety of reasons (e.g., in excess of authorized number of appeals in 14-day period, failure to attach pertinent documents, etc.), without any demonstration of a Third or Director's Level Review. Moreover, the FAC broadly names institutional or categorical defendants ("California Medical Facility Third Floor Custody Staff, Psych Department, Medical Department, R&R Custody Staff"), with limited allegations of specific claims against specific individuals (e.g., allegedly improper confiscation of property by correctional officers Whitten and Marin "plus the Sgt. I can't pronounce his name but know by sight;" "I wrote a 602 appeal about a custody sgt. named Beltram [but] [t]he 602 was never answered"). Despite repeated examination of the FAC and plaintiff's additional filings, this court is unable to identify a single cognizable claim against a specific individual defendant that was administratively exhausted.

Similarly, plaintiff's request for injunctive relief is so wide ranging (plaintiff seeks appointment of counsel, continued protective custody separate from the CSATF general population, transfer back to CMF, adequate diet and medical care) as to be superfluous. Moreover, because premised on plaintiff's current conditions of confinement at CSATF, plaintiff's motion for injunctive relief addresses matters entirely distinct from those presented in the FAC, which challenge plaintiff's conditions of confinement at CMF. The purpose of preliminary injunctive relief is to preserve the status quo pending a fuller hearing on the merits of the underlying claims. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 65; Local Rule 231(a). Thus, a court may not issue an order against individuals or entities who are not parties to the underlying suit. Zenith Radio Corp. v. Hazeltine Research, Inc., 395 U.S. 100 (1969). These rules preclude plaintiff's motion for injunctive relief on matters entirely distinct from the underlying action.

In addressing the obvious inadequacies of the FAC and pending motion, the following factors gave the undersigned pause in deciding to dismiss this action without leave to amend:

1. Plaintiff is 67 years of age.

2. Plaintiff is enrolled in the Chronic Care Program, as well as the Mental Health Services Delivery System ("MHSDS").

3. Plaintiff has been diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, hepatitis C, benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH), and chronic kidney disease due to diabetes; plaintiff also suffers from peripheral artery disease and restless leg syndrome. Plaintiff has bladder control problems, is mobility impaired and uses a walker.

4. Plaintiff has been prescribed diabetic and "pre-dialysis" or "pre-renal" diets, and is allergic to peanut, sesame and soy products.

5. Plaintiff believes that his commitment offense places him at higher risk of injury by other inmates.

6. Plaintiff believes that placement at CMF would meet both his medical and security needs.

Nevertheless, it appears that these matters have been squarely addressed by CSATF, pursuant to communications from the Prison Law Office. The attachments to plaintiff's FAC include a March 12, 2012 letter from the Prison Law Office, addressed to the Receiver's Office of Legal Affairs. (Dkt. No. 27 at 30-1.) The letter inquired about plaintiff's failure to receive cervical and wedge pillows, and the apparent inability of CSP-SOL to meet plaintiff's several medical and housing needs. This letter apparently triggered plaintiff's transfer to CSATF, although a transfer to CMF was also considered. (See id. at 27-8.)

On June 18, 2012, the Prison Law Office again wrote to the Receiver's Office of Legal Affairs, this time inquiring about plaintiff's care at CSAFT, specifically, requesting an explanation as to plaintiff's diagnoses and treatment plans for his medical problems related to his liver, kidneys and prostate; special diet needs; current chrono for wedge and cervical pillows; and whether plaintiff should be placed in a higher level of care due to his mobility problems and difficulty walking to food and medication lines. (Dkt. No. 27 at 32-3.) By letters dated July 31, 2012, and August 1, 2012, a California Correctional Health Care Services ("CCHCS") representative responded to the Prison Law Office, with copies sent to numerous other CDCR personnel, addressing plaintiff's care with respect to each of the identified matters. (See Dkt. No. 27 at 40-2.)

These official responses appear to reflect that plaintiff is receiving adequate medical care, and that dismissal of this action will not adversely impact that care. For this reason, and the reasons previously stated, the court is persuaded that the instant action must be dismissed, and leave to amend at this time would be futile.

Plaintiff may file a new action. However, plaintiff must clearly identify each defendant and the action that each defendant took that resulted in a violation of plaintiff's constitutional rights.*fn3 The court is not required to review exhibits to determine what plaintiff's charging allegations are as to each named defendant. The charging allegations must be set forth in the complaint so defendants have fair notice of the claims plaintiff is presenting. Moreover, plaintiff should demonstrate that he has exhausted his administrative remedies as to each claim, or explain, with supporting exhibits, how his administrative remedies were rendered unavailable.*fn4 The court should not be required to examine extraneous documents to make this assessment on its own.

Accordingly, for the foregoing reasons, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. The Clerk of Court shall note plaintiff's consent to proceed before the undersigned magistrate judge for all purposes.

2. Plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunctive relief (Dkt. No. 29), is denied.

3. This action is dismissed without prejudice.

SO ORDERED.


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