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MaCiel v. California Deapartment of Corrections and Rehabilitation

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 23, 2017





         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has declined Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. (ECF No. 7.) No other parties have appeared.

         On November 28, 2016, this Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint with leave to amend. (ECF No. 9.) Plaintiff's first amended complaint is now before the Court for screening. (ECF No. 12.)

         I. Screening Requirement

         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, ” or that 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). “Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         II. Pleading Standard

         Section 1983 “provides a cause of action for the ‘deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws' of the United States.” Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Section 1983 “‘is not itself a source of substantive rights, ' but merely provides ‘a method for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere.'” Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989) (quoting Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144, n. 3 (1979)).

         To state a claim under Section 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution and 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. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); see also Ketchum v. Cnty. of Alameda, 811 F.2d 1243, 1245 (9th Cir. 1987).

         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 mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id.

         III. Plaintiff's Allegations

         At all times relevant to this suit, Plaintiff was housed at Pleasant Valley State Prison (“PVSP”) in Coalinga, California. He names the following Defendants: Edmund G. Brown, Governor of California; Timothy Lockwood, Chief Regulation and Policy Manager for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”); Jeffrey Beard, CDCR Secretary; Matthew Cate, former CDCR Secretary; and Does 1-10, health professionals for the CDCR. Each Defendant is sued in his or her individual and official capacities.

         A. Background Information Related to Valley Fever

         The information contained herein is drawn from Plaintiff's first amended complaint; Plaintiff does not state the source of his information. However, Plaintiff's facts are largely verified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.[1]

         PVSP is located in the San Joaquin Valley of California, where there exists a severe risk of exposure to the coccidioidomycosis virus, commonly referred to as “Valley Fever” or “cocci.” Valley Fever is contracted through the inhalation of a fungus called Coccidioides Immitis, which naturally occurs in the soil. Once the spores of the fungus are inhaled, they lodge themselves in the victim's respiratory system. From there, the virus can spread throughout other tissues and organs, resulting in “disseminated Valley Fever.” The majority of those individuals infected display minor symptoms that resolve themselves within a few weeks. About 1-5% of those infected, however, will develop disseminated Valley Fever, a serious infection that is progressive, painful, and debilitating, and if left untreated may lead to meningitis and death. Once an individual has been affected by disseminated Valley Fever, there is no cure besides excision of the affected tissue and bone. Certain medications may manage symptoms, but they are costly and must be taken daily for life.

         Asians, Hispanics, African-Americans, and American Indians, as well as individuals with a compromised immune system, face an increased risk of infection with Valley Fever. They are also more likely to develop disseminated Valley Fever. There are several preventative measures that may be taken to help combat the spread of the cocci fungus spores, such as landscaping, paving, soil stabilization, restricting construction and excavation, limiting outdoor time in windy conditions, and wearing face masks when outside. Experts also recommend screening out at-risk inmates and transferring them out of San Joaquin Valley prisons.

         B. Documentation of the ...

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