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Williams v. Hill

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 20, 2016

BRETT LEE WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
TERRY ELI HILL, M.D., et al., Defendants.

          SCREENING ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

          LAWRENCE J. O’NEILL UNITED STATES CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE.

         PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

         Judges in the Eastern District of California carry the heaviest caseloads in the nation, and this Court is unable to devote inordinate time and resources to individual cases and matters. Given the shortage of district judges and staff, this Court addresses only the arguments, evidence, and matters necessary to reach the decision in this order. The parties and counsel are encouraged to contact the offices of United States Senators Feinstein and Boxer to address this Court’s inability to accommodate the parties and this action. The parties are required to reconsider consent to conduct all further proceedings before a Magistrate Judge, whose schedules are far more realistic and accommodating to parties than that of U.S. Chief District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill, who must prioritize criminal and older civil cases.

         Civil trials set before Chief Judge O'Neill trail until he becomes available and are subject to suspension mid-trial to accommodate criminal matters. Civil trials are no longer reset to a later date if Chief Judge O'Neill is unavailable on the original date set for trial. Moreover, this Court's Fresno Division randomly and without advance notice reassigns civil actions to U.S. District Judges throughout the nation to serve as visiting judges. In the absence of Magistrate Judge consent, this action is subject to reassignment to a U.S. District Judge from inside or outside the Eastern District of California.

         I. Screening requirement and standard.

         Plaintiff Brett Lee Williams is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff’s complaint, filed on April 18, 2016, is currently before the Court for screening.

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or 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, malicious, 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); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). If an action is dismissed on one of these three basis, a strike is imposed per 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). An inmate who has had three or more prior actions or appeals dismissed as frivolous, malicious, or for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and has not alleged imminent danger of serious physical injury does not qualify to proceed in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g); Richey v. Dahne, 807 F.3d 1201, 1208 (9th Cir. 2015).

         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 mereconclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). While a plaintiff’s allegations are taken as true, 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).

         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). To survive screening, Plaintiff’s claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Id.

         II. Plaintiff’s allegations.[1]

         Plaintiff brings various claims against the following Defendants: (1) Terry Eli Hill, M.D., in his official capacity as Chief Executive Officer of California Correctional Health Care Service (“CCHCS”); (2) J. Lewis, in his/her official capacity as Deputy Direct of CCHCS Policy and Risk Management Services; (3) C. Kerie, in his/her official capacity as an employee of CCHCS Policy and Risk Management Services; (4) Ronald J. Rackley, in his official capacity as Warden of FSP; (5) Teresa Kamura-Yip, in her official capacity as Chief Executive Officer of FSP/CCHCS; (6) K. Young, in her official capacity as a Health Care Appeals Analyst; (7) Benjamin Lee, M.D., in his official capacity as Plaintiff’s primary care provider at FSP; (8) E. Flores, M.D., in his official capacity as Plaintiff’s health care provider at “NKSP”[2]; and (9) I. Ogbuehi, in her official capacity as nurse practitioner at “PVSP.”[3]

         Plaintiff is and has been incarcerated in Folsom State Prison (“FSP”) since January 10, 2013. Plaintiff was previously incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison (“CSP”), NKSP, and PVSP, though he does not state when beyond indicating that he was at CSP in 2008, NKSP at various times in 2009 and 2010, and at PVSP in May 2012. At some point during his incarceration, Plaintiff was exposed to Coccidioides immitis, [4] which caused him to develop obstructive sleep apnea and allergic rhinitis. It appears that this occurred sometime in 2008 while Plaintiff was incarcerated at CSP.

         Plaintiff brings five claims against Defendants under § 1983. The first two allege Defendants violated Plaintiff’s rights under the Eighth Amendment and its state law corollary, Article I, § 17 of the California Constitution (“§ 17”).[5] Both claims are based on Plaintiff’s assertion that Defendants did so

by not informing Plaintiff that he had a high risk for future irreparable serious medical harm from Cocci exposure; that [his] Obstructive Sleep Apnea at night and Allergic Rhinitis during the day were injuries linked to Cocci exposure while Defendants housed Plaintiff in known Cocci endemic areas; and fail[ing] ...

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