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Cox v. Stottsberry

United States District Court, N.D. California

May 7, 2015

DAN ANDREW COX, Plaintiff,
v.
ALISHA STOTTSBERRY, et al., Defendants.

ORDER SERVING COGNIZABLE CLAIM

KANDIS A. WESTMORE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Dan Andrew Cox, a state prisoner incarcerated at Lake County Hill Road Correctional Facility Jail ("Lake County Jail"), filed a pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging the violation of his constitutional rights by California Forensic Medical Group, Inc. ("CFMG") and the medical staff at the Lake County Jail. On January 14, 2015, the Court issued an Order dismissing the complaint with leave to amend. On January 26, 2015, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint, which the Court now reviews. Dkt. No. 10.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

Liability may be imposed on an individual defendant under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 if the plaintiff can show that the defendant's actions both actually and proximately caused the deprivation of a federally protected right. Lemire v. Caifornia Dep't of Corrections & Rehabilitation, 726 F.3d 1062, 1074 (9th Cir. 2013); Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988); Harris v. City of Roseburg, 664 F.2d 1121, 1125 (9th Cir. 1981). A person deprives another of a constitutional right within the meaning of § 1983 if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative act or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do, that causes the deprivation of which the plaintiff complains. Leer, 844 F.2d at 633.

Under no circumstances is there respondeat superior liability under § 1983. Lemire, 756 F.3d at 1074. Or, in layman's terms, under no circumstances is there liability under section 1983 solely because one is responsible for the actions or omissions of another. Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989); Ybarra v. Reno Thunderbird Mobile Home Village, 723 F.2d 675, 680-81 (9th Cir. 1984). A supervisor may be liable under § 1983 upon a showing of (1) personal involvement in the constitutional deprivation or (2) a sufficient causal connection between the supervisor's wrongful conduct and the constitutional violation. Henry A. v. Willden, 678 F.3d 991, 1003-04 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1207 (9th Cir. 2011)).

II. Plaintiff's Claims

In the Court's January 14, 2015 Order, it found that the complaint's allegations that Plaintiff had a fractured mandible appeared to be a serious medical need, meeting the first prong for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). However, the Court found that the complaint failed to meet the second prong of the Farmer test because it did not name any individual who denied, delayed or intentionally interfered with medical treatment for Plaintiff's fractured mandible.

In his amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges the following: On December 7, 2013, when Plaintiff was in custody at the Lake County Jail, he slipped and fractured his upper mandible. He notified the medical staff and officers of his injury. Nurse Jim Miller told Plaintiff that he was "fine." An hour later, Plaintiff' face was starting to swell and he was in severe pain. The officer took him to booking and took photographs of his face, but refused to take him to the hospital for an MRI and proper medical care. An hour later, the officers took Plaintiff back to his cell and gave him ibuprofen and told him to drink plenty of water. For the next month, Plaintiff begged the medical staff to take him to the hospital for treatment, but they did not do so.

When Plaintiff finally was taken to CFMG, a private company under contract with the Lake County Jail to provide their medical service, he saw a dentist who told him that treating his mandible was beyond the dentist's skill level and ordered that Plaintiff see a specialist. Approximately a month and a half after he was injured, Plaintiff saw Dr. Bottger, a dental specialist, who said that it was too late to do anything about the fractured mandible because it had already started to heal. He suggested that Plaintiff return in a year after the mandible completely healed and he would try to correct Plaintiff's bite.

For months, Plaintiff requested a follow-up appointment with Dr. Bottger, but his requests were denied. Finally, on November 22, 2014, Plaintiff saw Dr. Andrus, another dentist "at the facility." Dr. Andrus found that Plaintiff's "bite is off, " his teeth have shifted to the left and he has a deviated septum. Dr. Andrus said that surgery would be required to correct these conditions and that he would discuss the surgery with Dr. Bottger and Alisha ...


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