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Voss v. Baker

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 25, 2017

CRAIG WILLIAM VOSS, Plaintiff,
v.
BRIAN BAKER, Defendant.

         ORDER FOR PLAINTIFF TO: (1) NOTIFY THE COURT THAT HE IS WILLING TO PROCEED ONLY ON THE CLAIMS AGAINST DEFENDANT BAKER FOR DELIBERATE INDIFFERENCE TO SERIOUS MEDICAL NEEDS IN VIOLATION OF THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT AND RETALIATION IN VIOLATION OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT; (2) FILE A FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT; OR (3) NOTIFY THE COURT THAT HE WISHES TO STAND ON HIS COMPLAINT, SUBJECT TO DISMISSAL OF CLAIMS CONSISTENT WITH THIS ORDER (ECF NO. 1) THIRTY DAY DEADLINE

         I. BACKGROUND

         Craig William Voss (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed the complaint commencing this action on May 4, 2017, (ECF No. 1), which is now before the Court for screening.[1]

         II. 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 or malicious, ” 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 upon which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         A complaint is required to 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)). Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id. at 679. 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). Additionally, a plaintiff's legal conclusions are not accepted as true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Pleadings of pro se plaintiffs “must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (holding that pro se complaints should continue to be liberally construed after Iqbal).

         III. SUMMARY OF PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff is an inmate at the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi, California. He is supposed to receive psychotropic medications at a central pill distribution window. On August 11, 2016, Plaintiff approached the window. Defendant Baker was tasked with distributing pills at that time. Defendant Baker motioned for Plaintiff to remove his sunglasses. Plaintiff told Defendant Baker that he had a prescription for the sunglasses, and offered to show Defendant Baker the prescription. Defendant Baker responded “I don't give a fuck faggot take them off.” After further discussion, Defendant Baker ordered Plaintiff to go to the back of the line. When Plaintiff came to the front of the line again, Defendant Baker refused to dose Plaintiff's medication. Plaintiff then located a custody officer to request assistance. The officer ordered Defendant Baker to dose Plaintiff's medication. Defendant Baker complied five minutes later.

         Later that day, Defendant Baker entered Plaintiff's dorm, ordered Plaintiff to exit his bunk area, and searched Plaintiff's bunk area. Defendant Baker removed various medications, which had been prescribed to Plaintiff. When Plaintiff confronted Defendant Baker, Defendant Baker said “You're a crazy faggot and cannot be trusted with carry medications anymore.” When Plaintiff explained his need for the medications, Defendant Baker responded “You don't know who the fuck you're fucking with do you?” Defendant Baker also discussed Plaintiff's medications in a loud and non-confidential way so that other inmates could hear, including saying “What's wrong? You don't want all your little buddies to know that your little pecker doesn't work or that you've got a weak ticker[?]” Defendant Baker also discussed the name of one of Plaintiff's family members in front of other inmates.

         The next day, August 12, 2016, Plaintiff reported the events to Dr. Allan Yin and also submitted an inmate health care appeal. The prison investigated the appeal, deemed it a staff complaint, and elevated it to the local Internal Security Unit for investigation.

         On October 30, 2016, Defendant Baker again operated one of the pill distribution windows. Pursuant to a plan Plaintiff developed with his advocate, Plaintiff approached the nearest custody officer and requested assistance. The custody officer escorted Plaintiff to another pill distribution window. Defendant Baker yelled “Oh hell no you can deal with me. I'm not going to let you manipulate staff. In fact I'm going to write your ass up!” Plaintiff alleges that he believed Defendant Baker was retaliating against Plaintiff for filing grievances against Defendant Baker and was attempting to intimidate Plaintiff.

         Plaintiff brings the following causes of action: 1) An Eighth Amendment claim for “[d]eprivation of medication;” 2) A Fourteenth Amendment claim for “[d]isclosure of protected medical information;” 3) A First Amendment claim for “[r]etaliation/[i]ntimidation;” and 4) A state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

         IV. ANALYSIS OF PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS

         A. 42 U.S.C. § 1983

         The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the ...

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