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Paez v. Corizon Health, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 25, 2017

GUILLERMO G. PAEZ, JR., Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His February 27, 2017 complaint is before the Court for screening. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff has consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. (ECF No. 5.) No other parties have appeared.

         I. Screening Requirement

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an 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 or malicious, ” that fail to state a claim on 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).

         To state a claim under § 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 color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Ketchum v. Alameda County, 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 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). A 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. Iqbal, at 677-78.

         III. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff is currently detained in Fresno County Jail, where the acts giving rise to his complaint occurred. Accordingly, the Court proceeds on the presumption that he is a pretrial detainee.[1] He brings this suit against Corizon Health (“Corizon”).

Plaintiff's allegations may be summarized essentially as follows:

         Plaintiff was hospitalized at Community Regional Medical Center (“CRMC”) in Fresno, California before being transferred to Fresno County Jail on December 22, 2016. While at CRMC, Plaintiff underwent surgery on his right arm to remove “muscle and skin tissue.” This surgery was necessary to treat a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (“MRSA”) infection caused by a surgeon who used a “dirty/medical instrument” while performing a prior operation. The second surgery (to treat Plaintiff's MRSA infection) resulted in an open wound that “hasn't closed.” Plaintiff was seen at CRMC for post-surgery follow up after the second operation, where providers “monitored the open wound.” Plaintiff was told to continue follow up until the wound closed, was prescribed antibiotics “for only 7 days, ” and was treated with “daily wrappings” until January 29, 2017. “Within the following week, ” Plaintiff's open wound “blistered up with puss” and became infected. Plaintiff was prescribed antibiotics again along with daily wrappings, this time until March 1, 2017. Plaintiff requested a skin graft to address the open wound, but “jail medical staff, ” presumably Corizon employees, canceled his last appointment with the “orthopedic/burn unit” at CRMC, telling Plaintiff that he “didn't need medical treatment.”

         Plaintiff suffers “pain from irreparable nerve damage” resulting from the second surgery performed to treat his MRSA infection. Plaintiff alleges this pain causes “uncomfortable day to day living.” Plaintiff also alleges that this constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment” on his “body and mind, ” resulting in disability and leaving him “emotional[ly] discourage[d].” Plaintiff's wound “still [has] leakage of puss, ” and Corizon “still” refuses to acknowledge Plaintiff's MRSA infection and the pain resulting from it.

         Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, asking the Court to “be taken to outside hospital for proper treatment, ” including “skin grafting and therapy” for his right arm.

         IV. Discussion

         Plaintiff brings this civil rights claim against Corizon Health. Plaintiff alleges that Corizon medical staff's refusal to provide further medical treatment for his right arm, which had previously been infected with MRSA, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Plaintiff also brings a claim for inadequate medical care. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, asking the Court to order “proper treatment.” The Court dismisses all of Plaintiff's claims with leave to amend and denies without prejudice Plaintiff's request for injunctive relief.

         A. Municipal ...

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