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Clayton v. Smith

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 16, 2017

BLAINE CLAYTON, Plaintiff,
v.
STEVEN SMITH, et al., Defendants.

          SCREENING ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT FOR FAILURE TO STATE A COGNIZABLE CLAIM, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF NO. 1)

          Barbara A. McAuliffe UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Blaine Clayton (“Plaintiff) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has consented to the jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (ECF No. 9.)

         On October 6, 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, Sacramento Division. (ECF No. 1.) On March 3, 2017, this action was transferred to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, Fresno Division, based upon proper venue. (ECF No. 6.)

         Plaintiffs complaint 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). Plaintiffs 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 plaintiffs 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, Plaintiffs claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for 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 incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison, located in Ione, California. The events in the complaint are alleged to have occurred at the Sierra Conservation Center (“SCC”). Plaintiff names the following defendants: (1) Dr. Steven Smith, a physician at SCC; (2) Dr. W. Savage, a physician at SCC; (3) Dr. Lor, DDS, a dentist at SCC; and (4) Dr. T. McDow, a supervising dentist at SCC.

         Plaintiff alleges as follows: In May 2014, Plaintiff was jumped by five inmates at SCC. Immediately after the attack, and in a state of shock, Plaintiff was unaware that he had a broken jaw. Within hours of feeling the pain, and being unable to chew or speak properly, Plaintiff reported his injuries to a nurse in administrative segregation (ad-seg). After such incidents, all inmates are housed in ad-seg, whether victim or aggressor.

         Upon placement in ad-seg, Plaintiff complained to the nurse, who then went to the doctor and had Plaintiff placed on a liquid diet. The nurse is not a defendant in this case, as she is the only person that ordered medical care for Plaintiff without denying, delaying, or interfering with said care.

         Plaintiff was suffering from a broken jaw. Yet it took four days for medical staff to treat Plaintiff. Even then, the treatment provided was basic x-rays. Now, medical staff is certain Plaintiff suffers from a broken jaw, as there is now medical diagnostic proof of such.

         Dr. Smith was the first person to see Plaintiff. After reviewing the x-rays, Dr. Smith told Plaintiff, “Your jaw isn't broken.” Plaintiff then told Dr. Smith that he did not believe him, as he had already reviewed the x-rays with other staff, and they showed him where his jaw was broken. To this, Dr. Smith replied, “You're lucky I'm even seeing you, according to the deal we have with the state, I cannot treat you for 30 days.” Due to the indifference of Dr. Smith, Plaintiff was needlessly forced to suffer in pain and without medical care.

         Approximately five days after the confrontation with Dr. Smith, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Lor. Additional x-rays were taken, and again it was confirmed that Plaintiff s jaw was broken. Dr. Lor told the Plaintiff that the supervising dentist was spoken to, and that Plaintiff would be seeing an oral surgeon. Dr. T. McDow never followed-up on the specialist visit, nor did Dr. Lor or any of the other defendants. This is a pattern of indifference, or pure neglect. Each doctor/defendant had a professional and ethical obligation to ensure Plaintiff was treated in a timely and adequate manner. Yet none of the defendants did what is required of them under the medical procedures of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”), or the Eighth Amendment.

         Dr. Savage was the other doctor supposedly treating Plaintiff. He too neglected to ensure Plaintiff was treated in a timely or adequate manner.

         Each of the listed defendants has set guidelines under the medical policies of CDCR, as well as the Eighth Amendment. These well-established rules and regulations were not followed.

         Plaintiff has suffered permanent effects from these acts, and will provide medical proof of such upon request. Plaintiff was also extremely damaged on an emotional level. Dr. Jensen, Plaintiffs psychiatrist, documented Plaintiffs pain and suffering throughout this incident, and even attempted to obtain medical help for Plaintiff by calling supervisors.

         On appeal of the treatment Plaintiff was not receiving, CDCR staff claim there was a delay in getting a doctor to the prison to see Plaintiff. Assuming this was true, there are measures in place to have people treated when it is of an urgent nature. A broken jaw is the type of case that falls within these measures. Rather than simply ignore Plaintiffs urgent need for medical care, CDCR staff were required to take the Plaintiff to an outside medical facility to correct his medical condition. This goes too for relief from Plaintiffs pain and ...


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