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Shannon v. County of Sacramento

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 13, 2013



TROY L. NUNLEY, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on two motions to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint brought by Defendant County of Sacramento and individual Defendants Dr. Fox and Dr. Bauer. (ECF Nos. 7, 8.) Plaintiff filed a joint opposition to both motions, (ECF No. 11), and Defendants filed replies, (ECF Nos. 13, 15). Finding that oral argument would not be of material assistance, see E.D. Cal. L.R. 230(g), the matter was submitted on the briefs, (ECF No. 21). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motions are GRANTED IN PART.


Plaintiff's complaint is far from a model of clarity, but he appears to assert therein claims for relief arising from two separate incidents involving medical treatment while Plaintiff was in custody. The first incident occurred in 2010 while Plaintiff was in custody in Manteca and concerned the treatment of an elbow injury. The second incident, which concerned plaintiff's food, occurred in 2011 while Plaintiff was in custody at the Sacramento County Jail. Plaintiff through this action sues Sacramento County as well as his treating physicians, Dr. Fox and Dr. Bauer. Plaintiff sues for damages while alleging his injuries arising from these incidents constituted a deprivation of his constitutional rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, inter alia. These incidents are discussed separately in turn below.

A. Elbow Injury

It appears from the complaint that Plaintiff's right elbow was somehow injured in December 2009. ( See Compl. 2:9-12, ECF No. 2 (stating that Plaintiff's treatment was delayed from "December[] 2009 until April 15, 2010").) It also appears that Plaintiff underwent some sort of treatment (possibly surgery) by "prison authorities in a Manteca medical facility" in April of 2010 "to remove... shattered bone pieces and broken hardware" from his elbow, and to "put in new hardware to repair [his] right elbow." ( Id. at 2:7-10.) Plaintiff asserts that as a result of what he characterizes as a "delay in treatment, " "3 ½ inches of humerus bone tissue... disappeared" from his arm. ( Id. at 2:9-10.) Plaintiff alleges certain unidentified doctors "tried to use bone putty to repair and replace the lost bone tissue, " but these efforts were "unsuccessful, " and plaintiff "may have to have his elbow replaced with an artificial elbow." ( Id. at 2:10-12.)

B. Foot Injury

At some point before being incarcerated in September of 2011, Plaintiff stepped on a rock and injured his foot. Also before September of 2011, Plaintiff was treated by a doctor at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in San Francisco, Giang Son. Dr. Son advised Plaintiff "that he should receive a walking hard cast which should be non-weight bearing." (Compl. 1:23-26.) When Plaintiff was incarcerated in Sacramento County Jail, he told Dr. J. Abshire about a "foot surgery" and requested the jail doctors "look at his foot concerning his cast." ( Id. ) Moreover, he gave his treating doctors at the Sacramento County facilities a letter that memorialized the advice he had received from Dr. Son from the Veteran's Administration Hospital in San Francisco.

Despite the advice Plaintiff received from Dr. Son, Dr. Bauer at the Sacramento County facilities "gave the plaintiff [a] pair of scissors and advised him to cut his own cast off and walk around the room without a support boot, a cane, or any support whatsoever." (Compl. 1:27-28.) Plaintiff alleges he was then "transferred to Rio Consumnes Correction Center without proper foot support" at which point "the hardware in his left foot... fell apart and his foot became infected." ( Id. at 2:1-3.)


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that a pleading contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009). Under notice pleading in federal court, the complaint must "give the defendant fair notice of what the claim... is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal quotation marks omitted). "This simplified notice pleading standard relies on liberal discovery rules and summary judgment motions to define disputed facts and issues and to dispose of unmeritorious claims." Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002).

On a motion to dismiss, the factual allegations of the complaint must be accepted as true. Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 322 (1972). A court is bound to give plaintiff the benefit of every reasonable inference to be drawn from the "well-pleaded" allegations of the complaint. Retail Clerks Int'l Ass'n v. Schermerhorn, 373 U.S. 746, 753 n.6 (1963). A plaintiff need not allege "specific facts' beyond those necessary to state his claim and the grounds showing entitlement to relief." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. "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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

Nevertheless, a court "need not assume the truth of legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations." United States ex rel. Chunie v. Ringrose, 788 F.2d 638, 643 n.2 (9th Cir. 1986). While Rule 8(a) does not require detailed factual allegations, "it demands more than an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A pleading is insufficient if it offers mere "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 ("Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice."). Moreover, it is inappropriate to assume that the plaintiff "can prove facts that it has not alleged or that the defendants have violated the... laws in ways that have not been alleged." Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983).

Ultimately, a court may not dismiss a complaint in which the plaintiff has alleged "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 697 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Only where a plaintiff has failed to "nudge[] [his or her] claims... across the line from conceivable to plausible" is the complaint properly dismissed. Id. at 680. While the plausibility requirement is not akin to a probability requirement, it demands more than "a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. at 678. This ...

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