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Jones v. Sherman

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 20, 2017

STUART SHERMAN, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff William Jones (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302.

         Plaintiff filed an unsigned complaint in this action on September 19, 2016, (ECF No. 1), which was stricken with leave to file a signed complaint on September 30, 2016, (ECF No. 7). Plaintiff then filed a signed complaint on October 14, 2016, (ECF No. 8), which is currently before the Court for screening.

         I. Screening Requirement

         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). Plaintiff's 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 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).

         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, Plaintiff's 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 housed at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (“SATF”) in Corcoran, California. Plaintiff names the following defendants: (1) Stuart Sherman, the Warden at SATF; (2) D. Romeo, a staff psychologist (Ph.D.) at SATF; (3) G. Martinez, a “(CEO)A” at SATF; and (4) CDCR.[1]/// Plaintiff alleges as follows: Plaintiff is a marine veteran with combat related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”). Plaintiff came to prison due to a crime directly related to his PTSD. In August 2015, Plaintiff was placed at SATF.[2] SATF offers rehabilitation programs for domestic violence, drug rehabilitation, criminal thinking, and reentry programs. There are hundreds of prisoners at SATF who suffer from combat related PTSD, and there are no programs, activity groups or services, or treatment courses available.

         Stuart Sherman, as Warden at SATF State Prison, is in charge of the institutional activities, and is aware of all the programs, activities, and services required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Under this Act, all Americans with disabilities are ensured programs, activities, and services. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) claims that they are understaffed and cannot provide PTSD treatment for veterans with disabilities. CDCR only offers rehabilitation services to non-disabled inmates.

         Plaintiff was seen by mental health provider D. Romeo, and was only offered ten minutes every 90 days where he was asked if he was okay and was then “sent packing.” PTSD is considered a factor in the crime Plaintiff committed, and other inmates are given treatment classes to help them reintegrate into the community. G. Martinez only offers medication for treatment. They have the authority to implement a course of action to help the hundreds of veterans in CDCR. However, medical officials intentionally deny and/or delay Plaintiff's access to treatment. Plaintiff's PTSD is worsening, with hyper-vigilance, anxiety, flashbacks, insomnia. This is worsened when Plaintiff was placed in the kitchen, where there are extremely loud bangs from pots and pans. Plaintiff was also placed in a confined space, exacerbating his combat-related PTSD.

         On December 2, 2015, Plaintiff was placed in the kitchen as his work assignment. Before Plaintiff was incarcerated, his PTSD was known and he was receiving treatment and counseling through the veterans for a few years, before seeing improvements. Plaintiff was diagnosed with PTSD before being brought to prison, and it is severely worsening his life and future by being imprisoned with no available treatment. Plaintiff's PTSD causes hyper alertness, bi-polar disorder, and anxiety attacks when exposed to loud noises and small spaces.

         On December 4, 2015, Plaintiff spoke with CCI Espenoza and was told that he would have to speak with mental health to get a job change, knowing his chronic medical condition and his incarceration for a crime caused by this disorder is in fact public and court record. Plaintiff then spoke with mental health on December 10, 2015 about his work assignment.

         Plaintiff is receiving medication but it only helps manage his symptoms, and does little if anything to actually help to improve his disorder. Plaintiff believes it to be cruel and unusual punishment by CDCR to know of his disorder and yet place him in an environment that caused him pain and suffering.

         Mental health, CDCR, Stuart Sherman, G. Martinez, D. Romeo, CCI Espenoza, Dr. Hashemi (G-yard doctor) have all played a part in Plaintiff's lack of treatment that has resulted in his pain and suffering. This pain and suffering includes hyper alertness, anxiety, combat related flashbacks, and insomnia. Plaintiff's condition is worsening by the day. The longer the inactions continue and no treatments are made available, the worse Plaintiff becomes a threat to his own safety and to the safety of others at SATF and in the outside world.

         Plaintiff is seeking emergency injunctive relief, monetary damages, punitive damages, and to be awarded therapy.

         III. Deficiencies of Complaint

         A. Linkage

         Section 1983 provides a cause of action for the violation of Plaintiff's constitutional or other federal rights by persons acting under color of state law. Nurre v. Whitehead, 580 F.3d 1087, 1092 (9th Cir 2009); Long v. County of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006); Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). To state a claim, Plaintiff must allege facts demonstrating the existence of a link, or causal connection, between each defendant's actions or omissions and a violation of his federal rights. Lemire v. California Dep't of Corr. and Rehab., 726 F.3d 1062, 1074-75 (9th Cir. 2013); Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1205-08 (9th Cir. 2011).

         Plaintiff's allegations must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

         Plaintiff has failed to name certain persons, such as CCI Espenoza and Dr. Hashemi, as defendants. Further, Plaintiff has made no factual allegations regarding any actions or inactions by Dr. Hashemi that violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights. If Plaintiff wishes to proceed against these defendants, he must name them as defendants, and allege sufficient facts showing how each person acted or failed to act in violation of his constitutionally-protected rights.

         B. ...

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