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Gomez v. Stainer

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 24, 2015

DANIEL GOMEZ, Plaintiff,
M. D. STAINER, Director, California Department of Corrections, et al., Defendants.


RALPH R. BEISTLINE, District Judge.

Daniel Gomez, a California state prisoner appearing pro se and in forma pauperis, brings this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1942 against various officials of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR).[1] Gomez is incarcerated at the California State Prison, Corcoran, California ("CSP-Corcoran"), where the acts complained of occurred.


This Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.[2] This Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious, " that "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, " or that "seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief."[3] Likewise, a prisoner must exhaust all administrative remedies as may be available, [4] irrespective of whether those administrative remedies provide for monetary relief.[5]

In determining whether a complaint states a claim, the Court looks to the pleading standard under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Under Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief."[6] "[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require detailed factual allegations, ' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation."[7] Failure to state a claim under § 1915A incorporates the familiar standard applied in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), including the rule that complaints filed by pro se prisoners are to be liberally construed, affording the prisoner the benefit of any doubt, and dismissal should be granted only where it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can plead no facts in support of his claim that would entitle him or her to relief.[8]

This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief.[9] "[A] complaint [that] pleads facts that are merely consistent with' a defendant's liability... stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'"[10] Further, although a court must accept as true all factual allegations contained in a complaint, a court need not accept a plaintiff's legal conclusions as true.[11] "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice."[12]


Gomez was transported by bus to CSP-Corcoran to serve a term in the Special Housing Unit. Upon his arrival at CSP-Corcoran, Gomez exited the bus where he was received by Burnitzki, Hensley and Sztukowsky. During the transfer from Gomez's custody by transportation to custody by CSP-Corcoran, Burnitzki threw Gomez face-first against the wire fence. Burnitzski then threw Gomez to the floor, Gallardo jumped in and held Gomez's legs. Hensley held Gomez's upper body while Burnitzski and Gallardo assaulted him. According to Gomez he suffered a laceration to his face from which he was actively bleeding, numerous bruises and abrasions to his shoulders, arms, legs, and back, and was in severe pain.

After the incident, Gomez was examined by LVN Somawang. Gomez alleges that Somalong refused to treat his injuries and refused to record Gomez's statement concerning the alleged attack. Gomez also alleges that Somawang, Jhonson, and a Jhon Doe refused to take or have taken pictures of Gomez's injuries. Gomez was treated the following day for his injuries.

In addition to an excessive use of force claim against Burnitzki, Hensley, and Gallardo, Gomez alleges a failure to protect claim against Sztukowsky and the Jhon Does. Gomez contends that Gibson's failure to take corrective disciplinary action against Burnitzki and Gallardo was the proximate cause of his injuries.

Gomez further alleges that, although he filed staff complaints, they were never processed.[13] Instead, Gomez was charged with and found guilty of staff assault in a Rules Violation Report ("RVR").[14]

As and for relief Gomez seeks: (1) damages from Burnitzki, Hensley, and Gallardo for assault and battery and violation of the Eighth Amendment (excessive force); (2) damages from Hensley, Sztukowsky, and the Jhon Doe Defendants for failure to protect; (3) damages from Warden Gibson for failure to disciplinary or other appropriate action to prevent the physicial abuse; (4) the failure of Dr. Macias, Somawang, and Jane Doe to provide appropriate and necessary medical treatment constituted deliberate indifference and negligence under California law; (5) order that Gomez be released from the SHU to the general prison population; and (6) the disciplinary action be expunged.


Initially the Court notes that M. D. Stainer, CDCR Director, and Warden Connie Gibson are sued solely in their official, not their individual, capacities. Although Gomez has sued Chief Medical Officer Macias in her individual capacity, nothing in the body of the Complaint or the voluminous attached exhibits indicates that either the Director, Warden, or Dr. Macias participated in the alleged deprivation of Gomez's rights. Section 1983 suits do not support vicarious ...

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