United States District Court, E.D. California
BRYAN E. RANSOM, Plaintiff,
C. McCABE, et al., Defendants.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FINDING CERTAIN COGNIZABLE CLAIMS AND DISMISSING CERTAIN CLAIMS AND DEFENDANTS
DENNIS L. BECK, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Bryan E. Ransom ("Plaintiff") is a prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action. Plaintiff filed this action on November 5, 2013.
On March 26, 2014, the Court screened Plaintiff's complaint and found that it stated certain cognizable claims. The Court ordered Plaintiff to either file an amended complaint, or notify it of his willingness to proceed only on the cognizable claims.
On July 10, 2014, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC"). Plaintiff names the following Defendants: Chief Medical Officers C. McCabe and T. Macias, Doctors E. Clark, R. Gill, J. Sao and O. Beregovskya, Endocrinologist E. Klass, Nurses P. Rouch, D. Strome, R. Herrera, S. Dougherty, J. Faldon and J. Kaiser, Departmental Review Board Members S. Hubbard, D. Speer, G. Marshall and S. Albritton, Wardens C. Gibson, R. Lopez and S. Hubbard, Correctional Sergeant E. Molina, Correctional Officers J. Faldon, Quillen, W. Hayward, D. Riley, G. Torres and H. Rocha, Dietician M. Brooks and numerous John Does.
A. LEGAL STANDARD
The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious, " that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that... the action or appeal... fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).
A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief...." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Id . (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id.
Section 1983 provides a cause of action for the violation of Plaintiff's constitutional or other federal rights by persons acting under color of state law. Nurre v. Whitehead , 580 F.3d 1087, 1092 (9th Cir 2009); Long v. County of Los Angeles , 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006); Jones v. Williams , 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). Plaintiff's allegations must link the actions or omissions of each named defendant to a violation of his rights; there is no respondeat superior liability under section 1983. Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 676-77; Simmons v. Navajo County, Ariz. , 609 F.3d 1011, 1020-21 (9th Cir. 2010); Ewing v. City of Stockton , 588 F.3d 1218, 1235 (9th Cir. 2009); Jones , 297 F.3d at 934. Plaintiff must present factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service , 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678; Moss , 572 F.3d at 969.
B. SUMMARY OF PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS
Plaintiff is confined in the Security Housing Unit ("SHU") at Corcoran State Prison ("CSP"), where the events at issue in this action occurred. Plaintiff states that he is a self-proclaimed prison activist.
Hunger Strike Allegations
Beginning on or around July 1, 2011, Plaintiff was a participant in a statewide indefinite prisoner hunger strike. The hunger strike was launched in response to the conditions in SHUs throughout CDCR. Plaintiff contends that the refusal to eat all solid-foods does not violate any rules or laws. Plaintiff also alleges that he has an autonomous Fourteenth Amendment right to refuse solid-food if he so chooses, and a First Amendment right to peacefully protest.
The 2011 hunger strike was suspended for negotiation on October 15, 2011.
On October 13, 2012, Plaintiff states that he placed prison officials on notice that he had resumed his solid-food hunger strike. In response, Defendants Faldon and Molina told Plaintiff that he would not be allowed to receive his daily state issue of food as long as he was on his solid-food hunger strike. Plaintiff showed them a letter from the Prison Law Office indicating that CDCR Headquarters had agreed that prison officials would not deny hunger-strikers their daily state issue of food items. Defendant Molina told Plaintiff that he had not heard about that agreement and until he did, Plaintiff would not be receiving any state issued food. Subsequently, Defendants Faldon, Molina, Torres, Quillen and Does 1-10 withheld Plaintiff's daily state issued food for eleven consecutive days.
To cover up these actions, Defendants Torres, Faldon, Quillen and Does 1-10 placed false entries into Plaintiff's record indicating that he had refused his meals.
Plaintiff alleges that in addition to his solid-food hunger strike, he has life-threatening medical conditions, including hypertension, high cholesterol and Type II diabetes, that require a well-balanced and nutritious diet. Between October 13, 2012, and October 27, 2012, during Plaintiff's daily medical examinations, Plaintiff repeatedly told Defendants Strome, Faldon, Herrera, Gill, Dougherty, Kaiser and Does 11-20 that because of his solid-food hunger strike, prison officials were withholding food and that he was in need of medical intervention. Even though his complaint was consistent with his constant and excessive weight loss, these Defendants refused to intervene with a medically substituted liquid diet. Defendant Gill told Plaintiff that even though there were provisions for him to provide Plaintiff with liquid supplements, Defendant McCabe and John Does 21-30 prohibited him from doing so to accelerate starvation and end the hunger strike as soon as possible.
On October 27, 2012, Plaintiff suffered complications from malnutrition, acute renal failure and dehydration and was transported to the emergency room at Bakersfield Mercy Hospital and admitted. Plaintiff told Dr. Muddassir what was going on and he treated Plaintiff with numerous IV drips, medications and an 1, 800 calorie non-solid food diet. Plaintiff was discharged on October 29, 2012, with the recommendation that he be allowed to choose his diet.
When he returned, Defendants Faldon, Torres, Molina, Quillen and Does 1-10 resumed their practice of withholding Plaintiff's daily state issued food for four consecutive days.
On November 2, 2012, during his medical appointment, Plaintiff told Dr. Wang that prison officials were withholding food since October 13, 2012, and that he needed medical intervention. Dr. Wang admitted Plaintiff to the hospital at Corcoran State Prison and placed him on a diet of puree and the liquid supplement "Nutren."
On November 12, 2012, even though Plaintiff had not fully recovered, Defendants Sao and Brooks discontinued his non-solid food diet and discharged him back to the SHU because they felt Plaintiff was manipulating the Medical Department to support his hunger strike.
On the evening of November 12, 2012, while escorting Plaintiff back to the SHU, Defendant Hayward asked Plaintiff why he had been in the hospital. Plaintiff told him why, and Defendant Hayward said that he was in charge of the building where Plaintiff was being rehoused and that the same policy applied. He told Plaintiff that until he abandoned his hunger strike, he would not receive his daily issue of food.
Defendants Hayward, Riley, Rocha and Does 31-40 then withheld Plaintiff's daily state issue of food for at least seventy days.
On November 15, 2012, during Plaintiff's medical examination, he told Defendant Strome that prison officials were withholding food. Defendant Strome intervened by substituting Plaintiff's diet with a medical liquid diet of 500 calories per day for thirty days.
On November 20, 2012, due to Plaintiff's continued excessive weight loss, Defendant Strome increased his liquid diet to 750 calories for thirty days. Plaintiff alleges that this increase to 750 was still "well-below" the minimum daily requirement of 1, 800 calories per day. Plaintiff continued to lose excessive weight and experience significant pain.
Between November 27, 2012, and December 12, 2012, Plaintiff continuously asked Defendants Rouch and Gill to increase his medical diet to 1, 800. They refused. Defendant Rouch told Plaintiff that if it were up to her, he would not receive any medical liquid diet at all. Defendant Gill continued to tell Plaintiff that he was prohibited from increasing his liquid diet so that the strike would end.
On December 11, 2012, two weeks prior to the expiration of the order, Defendant Gill discontinued the medical liquid diet, stating that he was getting too many emails and calls from "higher-ups." Compl. 23. Defendants Strome and Rouch did not intervene in the premature discontinuation.
On December 11, 2012, Plaintiff was admitted to the CSP Acute Care Hospital due to excessive weight loss, acute renal failure and dehydration. He was given IV fluids and prescribed a full liquid diet.
On December 12, 2012, Plaintiff was interviewed by Defendants Sao and Brooks, and he told them that in retaliation for his hunger strike, prison officials were withholding food since October 13, 2012. On December 13, 2012, Defendants Sao and Brooks discharged Plaintiff with an order that he be placed on a 500-calorie per day diet of the liquid supplement "Glytrol." Plaintiff alleges that this was well below the 1, 800 calorie daily minimum and caused him to lose excessive weight and experience significant pain.
Between December 13, 2012, and December 19, 2012, Plaintiff continuously asked Defendant Gill to increase his Glytrol to 1, 800 calories. Defendant Gill refused, again citing the "higher-ups" policy to quickly end the hunger strike.
On December 20, 2012, Plaintiff was transported to CSP Hospital for a Hepatitis C consultation and the start of scheduled treatment. Defendant Clark told Plaintiff that he would not begin treatment because of his hunger strike. At this time, Plaintiff states that he has been on a solid-food hunger strike for over 120 days and Defendant Clark's refusal to begin treatment caused irreparable physical harm.
On December 21, 2012, Plaintiff had a telemedicine consultation with Defendant Klass, an endocrinologist, regarding Plaintiff's Type II diabetes. He told Defendant Klass that in retaliation for his hunger strike, prison officials have been withholding state issued food for the last 69 days and that CSP was maintaining him on a deficient 500 calorie liquid diet of Boost. Defendant Klass recommended that Plaintiff's Boost be increased to at least 2, 200 calories per day and that Plaintiff return for further consultation in two weeks.
Plaintiff did not receive the increased amount of Boost until December 29, 2012. On January 11, 2013, during Plaintiff's medical consultation, Defendant Gill told
Plaintiff that Defendants McCabe and Does 21-30 ordered him to immediately discontinue Plaintiff's diet of Boost as a means to end the strike. Defendants Klass, Beregovskya and Gill did not do anything to intervene in Defendant McCabe's ...