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Gonzalez v. Fresno Sheriff's Department

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 11, 2017




         Plaintiff Michael Hernandez Gonzalez (“Plaintiff”) was a detainee at the time of the incident and is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed a consent to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. (ECF. No. 4, 5.) Plaintiff initiated this action on August 3, 2015, and after multiple screenings, filed a third amended complaint on January 13, 2017. (ECF No. 20.) Plaintiff's third amended complaint, filed on January 13, 2107 (ECF No. 20), is currently before the Court for screening.

         I. Screening Requirement and Standard

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity and/or against an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Plaintiff's complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks 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)(ii).

         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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (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 fo r the misconduct alleged, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. United States Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         II. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff is currently housed at California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in Corcoran, California. The incidents at issue took place while plaintiff was housed in the Fresno County Jail awaiting trial. Plaintiff's third amended complaint names Margaret Mims, Sheriff; Deputy Sheriffs sued as JOHN and JANE DOES 1-10; Doctors at Fresno County Jail sued as JOHN DOES 1-6; and Nurses at Fresno County Jail sued as JANE DOES 1-6.

         Plaintiff alleges as follows. On or about October 20, 2012, while awaiting a jury trial, Plaintiff was housed in Fresno County Jail. Defendant Mims and Deputy Sheriffs JOHN and JANE DOES 1-10 put Plaintiff in violent convicted 12-man holding tank. Plaintiff, a 52 year old Hispanic man, was confronted by a heavily tattooed inmate who wanted to know who Plaintiff was. The inmate asked Plaintiff who he was and where was he from on the street. Plaintiff said he was no gangbanger. The inmate said he was a Fresno Bulldog and left to speak with others. The next thing Plaintiff knew is he was viciously battered by several young inmates. Plaintiff was kicked, stomped and punched in the head and body.

         Plaintiff alleges that due to his mental state of competence in his criminal case for which he was awaiting trial, the court transferred Plaintiff Atascadero State Hospital for a mental health evaluation. Upon seeing Plaintiff's battered state when he arrived at Atascadero, Plaintiff told them about how he was beaten. Plaintiff contends that JOHN and JANE DOES 1-6, doctors and nurses at Fresno County Jail, down played his injuries and said he would heal up fine on his own without any medical care; and did not administer as much as an aspirin.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Mims and Deputy Sheriffs JOHN and JANE DOES 1-10 formed a classification committee to determine Plaintiff's housing needs. The committee kept asking what Plaintiff's problem was because no matter how many times the committee moved Plaintiff, Plaintiff was causing problems. Plaintiff said he was not causing problems and that the Bulldogs were trying to kill Plaintiff. Defendants conducted no investigation into whether any of the gang members were housed in the holding cell where he would be placed. Plaintiff alleges DOES 1 to 10 moved Plaintiff to another violent gang cell and he was again beaten until he lost consciousness. Mims and Defendants Deputy Sheriffs JOHN and JANE DOES 1-10 acted collectively as one voice classification committee who refused to house Plaintiff in protective custody. Defendants failed and refused to take the necessary steps to protect him from repeated acts of beatings. These beatings happened three times before being sent to Atascadero. At Atascadero for competence, a medical evaluation was done. Plaintiff suffered a right acromioclavical separation of shoulder and corrective surgery of plaintiff eight pins in his shoulder was done at Atascadero. His discharge papers from Atascadero indicated that he should be placed in protective custody. Upon his discharge from Atascadero and return to Fresno County Jail, Defendants failed to conduct any investigation in whether the gang members were housed in the holding cells. Mims and Deputy Sheriffs JOHN and JANE DOES 1-10 failed to follow protective measures indicated by Atascadero. Plaintiff was again severely beaten by bulldog gang members and 8 of the pins in his shoulder ruptured. Plaintiff was housed in felony holding cells for convicted gang members and plaintiff was a pretrial detainee.

         After each of the beatings, Plaintiff's need for medical care after each beaten was obvious but he was denied and was told he would heal up on his own. Plaintiff had serious medical need and the Jail medical staff John and Jane Does 1-6 did not take reasonable steps to obtain or provide medical care, even though a reasonable medical staff in the circumstances would have appreciated the high degree of risk of not providing surgery.

         Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages of $500, 000 against each defendant plus punitive damages, among other relief.

         III. Deficienci ...

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