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Casillas v. Zamora

United States District Court, E.D. California

October 9, 2014

JUAN CASILLAS, Plaintiff,
v.
L. D. ZAMORA, et al., Defendants.

FIRST SCREENING ORDER DISMISSING DUE PROCESS CLAIM WITH PREJUDICE AND DISMISSING EIGHTH AMENDMENT CLAIM WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (Doc. 1)

SHEILA K. OBERTO, Magistrate Judge.

First Screening Order

I. Screening Requirement and Standard

Plaintiff Juan Casillas, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on March 10, 2014. Plaintiff's claims arise from events which occurred at Avenal State Prison ("ASP") in Avenal, California.

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an 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, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007)), and courts "are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences, " Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

Under section 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). This requires the presentation of 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). Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor, Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted), but nevertheless, the mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting the plausibility standard, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

II. Discussion

A. Plaintiff's Allegations

Plaintiff, who is incarcerated at ASP in Avenal, California, brings this action against L. D. Zamora, Chief of Health Care Services; Doctor D. Greenleaf; and Physician Assistant Hitchman for violating his right to medical care under the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Plaintiff also alleges Defendants violated his right to due process with respect to actions taken during the course of reviewing and resolving his inmate appeal.

Plaintiff alleges that in 2001, he sustained injuries in a fall while working for a plastering company. Plaintiff had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, and he underwent three more surgeries between 2002 and 2003. On November 11, 2005, Plaintiff had back surgery, and he alleges "difficulty with self-care/personal hygiene, standing and walking." (Doc. 1, Comp., court record p. 5.)

On November 18, 2010, Plaintiff was examined by Philip A. Sobol, M.D., an orthopedist, for "low back pain radiating to the bilateral lower extremities" and "bilateral knee pain."[1] ( Id., Ex. B, court record p. 28.) Dr. Sobol opined that Plaintiff required an additional course of treatment, and he provided Plaintiff with an OrthoStim3 unit to treat lower back muscle spasms; a right knee brace for support and stabilization; and an LSO brace for support and stabilization.[2] ( Id., p. 33.) Dr. Sobol recommended that Plaintiff undergo an MRI of his lumbar spine and an ultrasound of his right knee. ( Id. ) Dr. Sobol also opined that Plaintiff was "considered temporarily totally disabled from an orthopedic standpoint for a period of four to six weeks." ( Id. ) Plaintiff thereafter had a lumbar spinal MRI on December 4, 2010. ( Id., pp. 37-8.)

On December 6, 2012, Plaintiff, by then incarcerated, was removed from "DPM status."[3] In June 2013, Plaintiff filed a CDC 1824 Reasonable Modification or Accommodation Request form complaining about "considerable" right knee and lower back pain, and requesting his medication and DPM status be reinstated. ( Id., pp.5-6, 20.) Plaintiff's 1824 form was forwarded to the health care appeals office for review as a health care appeal because it did not meet the criteria for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) processing. ( Id., p. 20.) Plaintiff was interviewed by Defendant Hitchman at the first level of review and his appeal was then denied by Dr. Boparai on July 26, 2013. Following denial of the appeal at the second level of review on October 13, 2013, the appeal was denied on January 27, 2014, at the third and final level of review by J. Lewis on behalf of Defendant Zamora.

In the course of addressing Plaintiff's appeal, Defendant Hitchman documented Plaintiff's chronic right knee pain and noted that there were "no objective findings that are consistent with [his] complaints, " and no further neurological or surgical intervention was indicated at that time. ( Id., p. 20.) Plaintiff alleges that ...


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