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Brown v. Holland

United States District Court, N.D. California

March 28, 2014

W. HOLLAND, Defendant.


NATHANAEL M. COUSINS, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, an inmate at Salinas Valley State Prison ("SVSP"), filed a pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violation of his constitutional rights by SVSP correctional officer W. Holland. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendant Holland, despite being notified of plaintiffs Parkinson's disease, used excessive force while handcuffing plaintiff and knocked plaintiff to the floor, resulting in pain and injury. The Court screened the complaint and found plaintiff had stated cognizable claims for excessive force and deliberate indifference to plaintiffs serious medical needs.

Defendant has filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In response, plaintiff has filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint, which defendant opposes. Also before the Court is defendant's motion to stay discovery pending ruling on the motion to dismiss.


I. Plaintiffs Allegations

In his complaint, plaintiff alleges the following:

Plaintiff has a serious mobility impairment due to his Parkinson's disease. (Compl. at 4.) He has been issued an accommodation chrono for the use of safety devices such as a cane and waist chains. (Id.)

On January 11, 2013, defendant was escorting plaintiff's cellmate back to their cell, when defendant told plaintiff to turn around and move to the food/cuff port to be handcuffed. ( Id. at 5.) Plaintiff informed defendant that he needed his safety devices and showed defendant the accommodation chrono. (Id.) However, defendant ignored the accommodation chrono and again told plaintiff to turn around and "cuff up" at the food/cuff port. (Id.) Plaintiff did as he was told, and defendant hand cuffed him. (Id.)

As the cell door was opening, plaintiff had trouble turning around and backing up as his cellmate walked into the cell. (Id.) Plaintiff told defendant that he was having trouble with his balance. (Id.) Plaintiff lost his balance and footing, causing him to lunge forward out of the cell, and his left shoulder struck defendant's safety vest. (Id.) Defendant then hand cuffed plaintiff behind his back, took hold of his elbow, grabbed the back of his neck and slammed plaintiff to the floor. (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff's chest hit the cement floor, knocking the wind out of him. (Id.) Plaintiff's head and face hit the floor, snapping his neck, and causing him excruciating pain. (Id.)

While plaintiff was in a prone position and handcuffed, defendant told him to stop resisting. (Id.) Plaintiff told defendant that he was not resisting, that he suffers from Parkinson's disease and that defendant was hurting him. (Id.) Defendant ignored plaintiff's statements and used his full body weight to push down on plaintiffs back causing plaintiff to experience excruciating pain. (Id.)

Medical staff arrived, picked plaintiff up off the floor and took him to get medical treatment. (Id. at 7.) Plaintiff suffered an abrasion on his forehead and reddened areas to his back, chest, neck, and behind his left ear. (Id.) His left eye became bruised and swollen. (Id.) Plaintiff began to experience bad headaches, blurred vision and neck and back spasms. (Id.) Plaintiff also started coughing and vomiting up blood. (Id.) Plaintiff is also being seen by mental health staff because he is experiencing emotional distress and having problems sleeping. (Id.)

In its order of service, the Court concluded that, liberally construed, plaintiff asserted cognizable claims against defendant Holland for excessive force and for deliberate indifference to plaintiff's serious medical needs.

II. Plaintiff's Rules Violation and Loss of Credits

When an inmate's behavior is considered a violation of law, it is reported on a CDC Form 115, Rules Violation Report. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3312(a)(3). Rules violation reports ("RVRs") are classified as either "administrative" or "serious." Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3313. Inmates who receive a serious rules violation are given a disciplinary hearing. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3315(b). Inmates with a determinate prison sentence, or inmates with an indeterminate sentence with a minimum eligible parole date, who are found guilty of a serious rule violation, forfeit disciplinary credits ranging from 1 to 360 days. See Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3323.

Plaintiff received a serious RVR for the January 11, 2013 incident related to this lawsuit. (Def.'s Req. Jud. Not. ("FUN"), Ex. A at AG000001-05.)[1] After a disciplinary hearing, review of the evidence and investigation, and statements by plaintiff and defendant, plaintiff was found guilty of committing a battery on defendant, under California Code of Regulations title ...

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