United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS, RECOMMENDING THAT
DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS BE DENIED (ECF NO. 45)
OBJECTIONS, IF ANY, DUE WITHIN THIRTY DAYS
Samuels (“Plaintiff”) is a civil detainee
proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in
this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Plaintiff has asserted various claims in connection
with contracting valley fever while housed at Coalinga State
case was initially dismissed at the screening stage by
Magistrate Judge Gary S. Austin for failure to state a claim.
(ECF No. 16) The Ninth Circuit reversed in part and remanded,
stating “dismissal of Samuels's safe conditions
claim was premature. Samuels alleged that defendants knew of
the life-threatening risk of building Coalinga State Hospital
in a highly endemic area for valley fever, but nonetheless
approved or failed to stop the facility's construction.
These allegations, liberally construed, were
‘sufficient to warrant ordering [defendants] to file an
answer.'” (ECF No. 22, at p. 3).
of filing an answer, certain defendants filed a motion to
dismiss arguing that they are entitled to qualified immunity
because it was not a clearly established violation of the
Eighth Amendment to allow inmates to be exposed to a
naturally occurring spore (the spore that causes Valley
Fever). (ECF No. 45-1, pgs. 2-3).
Court finds that Defendants are not entitled to qualified
immunity at this stage in the proceedings, the Court will
recommend that Defendants' motion to dismiss be denied.
filed his initial complaint on April 5, 2010. (ECF No. 1)
After giving Plaintiff leave to amend with legal guidance in
a first screening order, (ECF No. 12), on May 3, 2013,
Magistrate Judge Gary S. Austin (the assigned magistrate
judge at the time) issued an order dismissing this case for
failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 16).
appealed. (ECF No. 18). On August 21, 2014, The Ninth Circuit
Court of Appeals issued an order that allowed the case to
proceed on Plaintiff's safe conditions claim, stating
that “dismissal of Samuels's safe conditions claim
was premature.” (ECF No. 22, p. 3).
25, 2015, Plaintiff filed a “motion to provide the
Court with the John Doe defendants as requested” (ECF
No. 31), which was granted on October 9, 2015 (ECF No. 32). A
Second Amended Complaint was then filed, but it omitted
previously named defendants. (ECF No. 36). After the Court
issued an order requesting clarification (ECF No. 37), and
Plaintiff's assertion that the previously named
defendants were supposed to be included (ECF No. 38), the
Court issued an order granting Plaintiff leave to file a
Third Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 39).
Third Amended Complaint was screened, and the Court found
that Plaintiff ‘state[d] cognizable claims for
violation of his safe conditions rights under the Due Process
Clause against Defendants Pam Ahlin, Stephen Mayberg, Fresno
County Board of Supervisors, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Audrey
King, Brandon Price, Ron Withrow, Karin Hundal, Ron Howard
Cynthia Radavasky.” (ECF No. 41, p. 11). This case now
proceeds on Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint.
case now proceeds on Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint,
filed on July 15, 2016. (ECF No. 40). Plaintiff's Third
Amended Complaint was screened and the Court found that
Plaintiff “state[d] cognizable claims for violation of
his safe conditions rights under the Due Process Clause
against Defendants Pam Ahlin, Stephen Mayberg, Fresno County
Board of Supervisors, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Audrey King,
Brandon Price, Ron Withrow, Karin Hundal,  Ron Howard and
Cynthia Radavasky.” (ECF No. 41, p. 11) (footnote
December 6, 2016, Defendants Pam Ahlin, Stephen Mayberg,
Audrey King, Brandon Price, Ron Withrow, Kiran Hundal, Ron
Howard and Cynthia Radavasky filed a motion to dismiss on the
basis of qualified immunity. (ECF No. 45). On January 26,
2017, Defendant Arnold Schwarzenegger filed a “Notice
of Joinder and Joinder of Defendant Arnold Schwarzenegger in
Motion to Dismiss.” (ECF No. 54). On March 1, 2017,
Plaintiff filed an opposition to the motion to
dismiss. (ECF No. 58). On April 10, 2017,
Defendants Pam Ahlin, Stephen Mayberg, Audrey King, Brandon
Price, Ron Withrow, Kiran Hundal, Ron Howard, Cynthia
Radavasky, and Arnold Schwarzenegger
(“Defendants”) filed a reply to Plaintiff's
opposition. (ECF No. 67).
motion to dismiss (ECF No. 45) is now before the Court.
PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS IN HIS THIRD AMENDED
filed his Third Amended complaint on July 15, 2016. (ECF No.
40). In the Third Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges the
is an African-American male, currently civilly detained at
Coalinga State Hospital (“CSH”) in Coalinga,
California. Plaintiff named as defendants Pam Ahlin
(ex-Executive Director of CSH), Stephen Mayberg (ex-Director
of the California Department of States Hospitals), Fresno
County Board of Supervisors, Arnold Schwartzenegger
(ex-Governor of California), Audrey King (Executive Director
of CSH), Brandon Price (interim Director of CSH), Robert
Withrow (Medical Director of CSH), Kiran Hundal (Nursing
Administrator), Ron Howard (Plant Operations Manager), and
Cynthia A. Radavsky (Deputy Director of Long Term Care
Services at CSH).
alleges that Defendants Ahlin, Mayberg, Fresno County Board
of Supervisors, Schwartzenegger, King, Price, Withrow,
Hundal, Howard, and Radavsky were aware of dangerous
conditions at CSH but took no protective measures for his
health and safety to prevent Plaintiff's infection by the
disease known as Valley Fever. Plaintiff alleges that on
February 16, 2006, he was transferred to CSH. There were
rumors and scientific information that the area surrounding
CSH was extremely lethal because Valley Fever spores were
known to be in the soil. Plaintiff and other detainees were
assured by employees that the environment was not life
threatening, and because the hospital was a hermetically
sealed environment, the chance of contracting an infection
was a million to one. Plaintiff became infected with Valley
Fever a year after his transfer.
Brandon Price, the Hospital Administrator when Plaintiff
contracted the disease, knew or should have known that the
area where CSH was built had been declared hazardous and
life-threatening because of Valley Fever. Defendant Price
intentionally concealed the medical and scientific facts, in
spite of the number of patients infected at CSH and Pleasant
Valley State Prison (PVSP) next door.
Kiran Hundal, the Nursing Administrator at CSH, knew of the
risk that Valley Fever posed to patients of color, but
deliberately hid all information about the disease.
Robert Withrow, the Medical Director, breached his duty to
inform patients and employees of the danger of the disease,
in violation of the Health and Safety Code. Plaintiff asserts
that if Plaintiff had known about the dangers, he might have
avoided the infection.
Ron Howard, the Plant Operations Manager, knows or knew about
the lethal nature of the Valley Fever disease, but he
insisted that the ventilation system did not need an upgrade
to prevent entry of the windblown spores into the housing
area. Plaintiff assumes he contracted the disease through the