United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS, RECOMMENDING THAT DEFENDANTS' RULE 12(b)(6) MOTION TO DISMISS BE GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART (Doc. 24.)
GARY S. AUSTIN, Magistrate Judge.
Anthony Chavarria ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case now proceeds on Plaintiff's original Complaint, filed on December 14, 2010, against defendants Dr. Duenas, Physician's Assistant (P.A.) Green, and P.A. Wilson ("Defendants"), for inadequate medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Doc. 1.)
On July 28, 2014, Defendants filed a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. (Doc. 24.) On November 10, 2014, Plaintiff filed an opposition to the motion. (Doc. 28.) On November 12, 2014, Defendants filed a reply. (Doc. 29.) Defendants' motion to dismiss is now before the court.
II. PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS AND CLAIMS
Plaintiff is presently an inmate in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, incarcerated at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran, California. The events at issue in the Complaint allegedly occurred at Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP) in Coalinga, California, when Plaintiff was incarcerated there. Plaintiff's factual allegations follow.
Prior to Plaintiff's incarceration, he suffered injuries as a result of being shot several times by police. Plaintiff was shot in the chest, kidney, spleen, colon and thoracic spine. Plaintiff underwent two separate surgeries to address the damage. Plaintiff alleges that since his incarceration, he has needed constant treatment and pain management. Plaintiff alleges that his treatment "took a significant turn for the worst" while he was at PVSP. Complaint, Doc. 1 at 8 ¶8.
Plaintiff alleges that he has been prescribed Morphine Sulphate "for several years, " and that, "on more than one occasion, Pleasant Valley prison officials have allowed Plaintiff's medication(s) to expire due to negligence." Id. ¶14. Plaintiff had been receiving a dose of Morphine Sulphate of 30 milligrams twice daily and 1200 milligrams of Gabapentin three times daily to relieve pain caused by the gunshot injuries. Plaintiff had been prescribed these pain medications at these doses "for several years." Id. ¶13. At some point, Plaintiff's dosages were reduced to 15 milligrams of Morphine Sulphate twice daily and 300 milligrams of Gabapentin twice daily.
Plaintiff alleges that Morphine Sulphate is "highly addictive" and that when it is discontinued "cold turkey, " he suffers severe delirium tremens ( sic ) (DTs) as a result of withdrawal. Id. ¶¶15, 16. Plaintiff alleges that each time his medication was discontinued because he had not seen his primary care provider "due to prison overcrowding, " he suffered severe DTs, which caused constant and severe pain. Id. ¶17. Plaintiff alleges that on several occasions, this condition lasted "for days, " and was ignored by medical staff. Id. at 8-9 ¶18. Plaintiff "spent several weeks total unable to sleep, eat, walk, or even to use the bathroom due to pain caused by these injuries." Id. at 9 ¶21.
Plaintiff also alleges that he met with each of the Defendants, and that none of them read his medical file or took the time to learn about his injuries. Id. at 8 ¶11. Plaintiff alleges that between the dates of January 2008 and November 2010, he informed Dr. Igbinosa of his severe pain and "lack of a continued medical regimen and the fact that he hadn't been seeing his doctors as scheduled." Id. at 9 ¶26. Dr. Igbinosa advised Plaintiff to file a grievance regarding the issue. Plaintiff alleges that his medication was discontinued after several of these meetings, "due to Dr. Igbinosa's failure to correct the problem raised." Id. ¶29. When Plaintiff sought an explanation from defendant Green as to why his medication had been reduced, he was told that defendant Green was under orders by his supervisor to "cut down everyone's meds, " and "reduce the narcotics on this facility." Id. at 10 ¶39. Defendant Green informed Plaintiff that he was "just a casualty of my orders." Id. ¶¶36, 39. Plaintiff was also told by defendant Green that "[a] little pain might be good for you, " and "[y]ou're not in that much pain with just one bullet in your spine and a few fragments floating around in your back." Id. ¶39. When Plaintiff asked defendant Dr. Duenas why his medication was reduced, he was told that the medication was being reduced because "Plaintiff's internal system was not breaking down the medications and that [plaintiff]'s kidney was showing damage, " but Plaintiff alleges that neither defendant Green or Duenas could produce any diagnostic evidence. Id. at 11 ¶¶ 43-47. Defendant Wilson told Plaintiff that he had no doubt that Plaintiff was in pain, but "I have to protect my job and I can only do that by following orders." Id. at 12 ¶56.
Plaintiff alleges that instead of offering relief, Defendants either reduced his medications or allowed them to expire, causing him to suffer withdrawal symptoms. Plaintiff has alleged facts indicating that he suffers from severe pain as a result of the decisions made by Defendants. Plaintiff requests monetary damages and injunctive relief.
Plaintiff claims that Defendants failed to provide him with adequate medical care, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Under the Eighth Amendment, the government has an obligation to provide medical care to those who are incarcerated. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1131 (9th Cir. 2000). "In order to violate the Eighth Amendment proscription against cruel and unusual punishment, there must be a deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners.'" Id. (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97. 104 (1976)). Lopez takes a two-prong approach to evaluating whether medical care, or lack thereof, rises to the level of "deliberate indifference." First, a court must examine whether the plaintiff's medical needs were serious. See Id. Second, a court must determine whether "officials intentionally interfered with [the plaintiff's] medical treatment." Id. at 1132.
III. RULE 12(b)(6) MOTION TO DISMISS
A. Legal Standard
In considering a motion to dismiss, the court must accept all allegations of material fact in the complaint as true. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007); Hosp. Bldg. Co. v. Rex Hosp. Trustees, 425 U.S. 738, 740, 96 S.Ct. 1848, 48 L.Ed.2d 338 (1976). The court must also construe the alleged facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 40 L.Ed.2d 90 (1974), overruled on other grounds by Davis v. Scherer, 468 U.S. 183, 104 S.Ct. 3012, 82 L.Ed.2d 139 (1984); Barnett v. Centoni, 31 F.3d 813, 816 (9th Cir.1994) (per curiam). All ambiguities or doubts must also be resolved in the plaintiff's favor. See Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421, 89 S.Ct. 1843, 23 ...