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Puckett v. McCarthy

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 1, 2017

MCCARTHY, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in an action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleges violations of his rights under the First and Eighth Amendments. The crux of plaintiff's complaint is that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his mental health needs, which included an attempted suicide. Plaintiff also generally alleges that defendants retaliated against him for filing an appeal about their alleged indifference.

         Several motions are pending: (1) defendants' motion to compel; (2) defendants' motion for an order declaring plaintiff a vexatious litigant and requiring him to post security (“motion to post security”); (3) defendants' motion to stay further proceedings pending resolution of their motion to post security (“motion to stay”); and (4) plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and/or partial judgment (“motion for summary judgment”).

         For the reasons that follow, defendants' motion to compel is granted in part and denied in part. Additionally, ruling on defendants' motion to post security and plaintiff's motion for summary judgment are deferred, and defendants' motion to stay is denied as moot.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Allegations

         On January 20, 2015, at about 8:00 a.m., plaintiff was housed in the mental health seclusion unit (“MHSU”) of California State Prison, Sacramento (“SAC”). ECF No. 1 at 5. According to plaintiff, he told defendant Smith, a correctional officer, that he was suicidal, hearing voices, and had overdosed on ten pills. Officer Smith told him to “fuck yourself and die bitch.” Id. Officer Smith returned about ten minutes later and observed plaintiff swallow about thirty pills. Id. Thereupon, Officer Smith said “Yes, motherfucker, I don't like you” and asked plaintiff “What kind of pills was that?” Plaintiff, who was crying, said that he was suicidal. Id. Officer Smith laughed at him and called him “a piece of shit.” Id.

         About five minutes later, “licensed psyche technician Reed” saw plaintiff taking “[twenty] plus pills.” Id. She convinced correctional officers to remove him from the MHSU for “suicidal prevention evaluation.” Id.

         Subsequently, plaintiff was “housed in the unit rotunda holding cage, ” where he started to vomit. Id. About two hours later, defendant McCarthy, a licensed clinical social worker, saw plaintiff. Id.; see also ECF No. 34-4 ¶ 1. McCarthy knew of and was very familiar with plaintiff's metal illness. ECF No. 1 at 5. Yet he refused to send him to a “suicide watch crisis bed[]” because he (1) was an “indecent exposure with masturbation inmate” and (2) “continue[d] to disrespect officers.” Id. McCarthy added that he could not care less if plaintiff killed himself. Id. Plaintiff responded that he was “still suicidal and deeply/highly depressed.” Id. But McCarthy stated, “So what[?] That's your problem[, ] not mine[].” Id.

         Officer Smith sent plaintiff-who continued to vomit-back to his cell. Id. at 6. Officer Smith called him a snitch because of Reed's intervention. Id. In his cell, he was collapsing and vomiting, and he eventually started convulsing. Id.

         Plaintiff was immediately taken to “medical.” Id. There, defendant Halloran, a staff psychiatrist, saw him. Id. Dr. Halloran knew of his “deteriorating conditions of hearing voices and depression plus delusional actions.” Id. Furthermore, he knew that McCarthy refused to send him to suicide watch. Additionally, nurses told Dr. Halloran that plaintiff was stating that he was still suicidal. Id. However, Dr. Halloran said that plaintiff would live and ordered him taken back into custody. Id.

         From July 2014 onward, plaintiff complained about his mental health problems to the following defendants: (1) Dr. Halloran, id. at 7; (2) E. Johnson, who is a clinical psychologist, id. at 7; ECF No. 34-6 ¶ 1; (4) R. Pleshcuk, whose title is Senior Psychological Specialist, ECF No. 1 at 7; ECF No. 34-7 ¶ 1; and (4) S. Chaiken, whose title is Chief Psychologist, ECF No. 1 at 7; ECF No. 34-8 ¶ 1. Specifically, plaintiff complained that he was having flashbacks about being assaulted by correctional officers on multiple occasions and feared for his safety because inmates stabbed him in several body parts after officers falsely accused him of pedophilia. ECF No. 1 at 7. He sought help from all four “but was disregarded.” Id.

         From November 2014 to February 2015, plaintiff tried to kill himself by overdosing and hanging himself. Id. His failed suicide attempts caused him stomach pain, back pain, and vomiting. Id. Also, he had “numerous panic attacks” and was “slowly deteriorating.” Id. “For months on and off, ” he was deeply depressed and having “suicidal/homicidal ideations.” Id. On more than three occasions, he told each of these four defendants about his problems. Furthermore, he “repeatedly asked for a higher level of care but was denied by Pleshcuk and Johnson.” Id. Additionally, he “made it clear to Halloran and Johnson” that he suffered from a mental illness that he could not control. Id.

         Plaintiff must be mentally ill. Id. at 8. He has been involuntarily medicated since April 2011. Further, he has had “racing thoughts of killing correctional officers and committing rape again.” Id. Plaintiff has been charged with several sex crimes and has been written up for masturbation more than twenty-four times. Yet defendants denied plaintiff a higher level of care and told him that he “would have to re-offend to get treatment.” Id. Consequently, plaintiff is hearing voices more often and cannot function. Id. Also, he has committed more violent and sexual acts and tried to kill himself over eight times. Id. Defendants are lying about meeting his mental health needs. Id. Instead of providing “core groups, ” id. at 7-8, they have him “watch regular movies and play games, ” id. at 8.

         On March 20, 2015, plaintiff was in the MHSU. Id. at 4. Defendant Spangler, who is a correctional sergeant, interviewed him about his “602 institutional grievance in regards to [his] 1-20-2015 overdose complaint against Officer B. Smith.” Id.; see also ECF No. 34-2 ¶ 1. Plaintiff told her about his “issues” and that he had filed a missing “602-A form” in which he requested monetary relief. ECF No. 1 at 4. About two or three hours later, Sergeant Spangler and Officer Smith came to his cell. Id. They “terrorized” him, took items from his cell, and “put the word snitch” on his handwritten legal documents. Id. Furthermore, Sergeant Spangler falsified a report stating that there is no ...

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