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Pike v. Lee

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

August 30, 2013

Todd D. Pike
Dr. Henry Lee, M.D., et al


CHRISTINA A. SNYDER, District Judge.

Proceedings: (In Chambers) DEFENDANT J. CLARK KELSO'S MOTION TO DISMISS (filed July 18, 2013) [5]

The Court finds this motion appropriate for decision without oral argument. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; Local Rule 7-15. Accordingly, the hearing date of September 9, 2013, is vacated, and the matter is hereby taken under submission.


On December 21, 2013, plaintiff Todd D. Pike filed this case in the Los Angeles County Superior Court against defendants Dr. Henry Lee ("Lee"), Dr. Mark Interian ("Interian"), Elvin Valenzuela ("Valenzuela"), J. Clark Kelso ("Kelso"), and Does 1-50. On July 3, 2013, the parties agreed to transfer the case to San Luis Obispo County Superior Court. Plaintiff alleges that Lee and Interian committed medical malpractice when treating plaintiff while he was an inmate at the California Men's Colony ("CMC") in San Luis Obispo. The operative First Amended Complaint ("FAC") asserts claims for: (1) medical negligence; (2) lack of informed consent; and (3) dental negligence. On July 12, 2013, defendant Kelso removed the case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1442. Dkt. No. 1.

On July 18, 2013, Kelso moved to dismiss the FAC's claims against him pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). On August 19, 2013, plaintiff filed an opposition, and on August 26, 2013, Kelso filed a reply. After considering the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.


This case arises out of medical and dental treatment received by plaintiff while he was an inmate at CMC from 2008 to 2011. Plaintiff alleges that he suffers from a number of neurological conditions which were initially diagnosed prior to his incarceration. FAC ¶ 8. When plaintiff was first incarcerated at CMC, he was examined by prison physicians. Defendant Lee, the staff neurologist at CMC, prescribed anti-convulsant medications to treat plaintiff's neurological conditions. FAC ¶¶ 17-19. Plaintiff disagreed with Lee's course of treatment, and requested that Lee order an outside consult so that plaintiff could get a second opinion. Plaintiff's request was denied. FAC ¶ 16.

Plaintiff alleges that the medication prescribed by Lee did not adequately treat his neurological conditions, and instead caused several adverse side effects. Among other symptoms, plaintiff claims that he had an allergic reaction to the medication that caused his gums to begin swelling and bleeding. FAC ¶¶ 25-30. When plaintiff sought dental care, defendant Interian, a dentist on staff at CMC, extracted one of plaintiff's teeth in response to this swelling and bleeding. Plaintiff states that the tooth was extracted against his wishes. FAC ¶¶ 28, 32.

In addition to Lee and Interian, plaintiff has also sued defendants Valenzuela and Kelso. Valenzuela is the warden of CMC, the facility in which plaintiff was incarcerated. FAC ¶ 4. Kelso is Receiver for the California state prison medical care system.[1]


A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the legal sufficiency of the claims asserted in a complaint. "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds' of his entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "[F]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id.

In considering a motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court must accept as true all material allegations in the complaint, as well as all reasonable inferences to be drawn from them. Pareto v. F.D.I.C. , 139 F.3d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1998). The complaint must be read in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors , 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001); Parks Sch. of Bus., Inc. v. Symington , 51 F.3d 1480, 1484 (9th Cir. 1995). However, "[i]n keeping with these principles a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. [PG]While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009); Moss v. United States Secret Service , 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009) ("[F]or a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the non-conclusory factual content, ' and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief.") (citing Twombly and Iqbal); Sprewell , 266 F.3d at 988; W. Mining Council v. Watt , 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981). Ultimately, "[d]etermining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will... be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal , 129 S.Ct. at 1950.

Furthermore, unless a court converts a Rule 12(b)(6) motion into a motion for summary judgment, a court cannot consider material outside of the complaint (e.g., facts presented in briefs, affidavits, or discovery materials). In re American Cont'l Corp./Lincoln Sav. & Loan Sec. Litig. , 102 F.3d 1524, 1537 (9th Cir. 1996), rev'd on other grounds sub nom Lexecon, Inc. v. Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach , 523 U.S. 26 (1998). A court may, however, consider exhibits submitted with or alleged in the complaint and matters that may be judicially noticed pursuant to Federal Rule of ...

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