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Pineida v. Lee

United States District Court, N.D. California

January 5, 2015

CHARLES D. LEE, et al., Defendants.


JON S. TIGAR, District Judge.

Plaintiff Gabriel Pineida ("Pineida"), a California prisoner, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 asserting that Defendants at Salinas Valley State Prison ("SVSP") denied him adequate medical treatment for his ulcerative colitis, or delayed in providing that treatment. Before the Court is motions to dismiss filed by various Defendants in this action. ECF Nos. 118, 131, 134, 136.


A. Procedural History

Pineida initially brought this action pro se on March 8, 2012. His initial complaint named, among others, Defendants Lee, Wall, Rodriguez, and Sepulva ("original Defendants"), in both their official and individual capacities. ECF No. 1. Lee, Wall, and Rodriguez brought a motion to dismiss. ECF No. 20. The Court dismissed Pineida's claims against those Defendants in their official capacities, ECF No. 42 at 9 (citing Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985)), but denied the motion to dismiss Pineida's claims against those Defendants in their individual capacities. Id. at 10-19. The Court concluded that, as to those claims, Pineida had exhausted his administrative remedies, filed his complaint within the statute of limitations, and pled sufficiently specific allegations. Id.

The initial complaint also named Defendant Millner, however Pineida was unable to serve Millner within 120 days after filing the complaint. Id. at 19. The Court therefore dismissed claims against Millner without prejudice, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m). ECF No. 42 at 19.

The Court referred Pineida to the Federal Pro Bono Project, ECF No. 73, and appointed counsel from Fenwick & West to assist him in this action. ECF No. 74. Following appointment of counsel, Pineida moved to file an Amended Complaint, which sought to add four new Defendants - Grounds, Marshall, Adams, and Bright ("additional Defendants").[1] Pineida also sought to add additional allegations against original Defendants regarding retaliation for the exercise of his First Amendment rights. The Court, scrutinizing the Amended Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15, concluded that amendment would not be futile, as plaintiff's claims against new Defendants and additional claims against the original Defendants, if proven, would state a claim for relief. ECF No. 103. The Court also concluded that adding the additional Defendants to the action did not violate Rule 20 regarding joinder, as "[t]he basis of the complaint against all Defendants, original and new, concerns the allegedly systematic mistreatment of Pineida by SVSP staff." Id. at 13.

Original Defendants also moved to strike portions of the Proposed SAC. Although the Court found that the original Defendants' motion to strike was procedurally deficient, it went on to advise that "none of the challenged averments are properly subject to a motion to strike." Id. at 13. Original Defendants had contended that the proposed Exhibit, an expert study regarding SVSP's "ability to provide medical care to its inmates, " should be stricken because it was prejudicial to the Defendants. Id . The Court concluded "[t]he report is not redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous." Id.

The Court also permitted Pineida to add claims against Defendant Millner. The Court had previously dismissed Miller under Rule 4(m), as Pineida had failed to serve him within the required time period. Because the 4(m) dismissal had been without prejudice and Pineida filed the motion to amend his complaint prior to the deadline to add parties to the case, the Court concluded that it was "appropriate to permit Plaintiff to re-assert his claims against Defendant Millner." Id. at 103.

On September 25, 2014, this Court granted Pineida's motion for a preliminary injunction directing SVSP "to provide him with a low fiber diet and no fewer than two nutritional shakes per day designed for meal supplementation." ECF No. 148 at 1. In reaching its conclusion, the Court found that Pineida had demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits for his claim that SVSP Defendants had shown deliberate indifference a demonstrated medical need in refusing to provide him with his requested low fiber diet. Id. at 3-6.

B. Jurisdiction

This court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, because Plaintiff's Section 1983 claims arise under federal law.

C. Legal Standard

Dismissal is proper where the complaint fails to "state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). "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 entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.... Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 553-56 (2007) (citations omitted). ...

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