United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER ADOPTING IN PART FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS,
AND GRANTING PLAINTIFF LEAVE TO FILE A SECOND AMENDED
COMPLAINT (DOC. NO. 14)
Jason Leroy Cooper is a state prisoner proceeding pro
se and in forma pauperis with this civil rights
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The matter was
referred to a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302.
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
March 2, 2017, the assigned magistrate judge issued findings
and recommendations, recommending that this action be
dismissed based on plaintiff's failure to state a
cognizable claim in his first amended complaint. (Doc. No.
14.) The findings and recommendations were served on
plaintiff and contained notice that objections thereto were
to be filed within thirty days. (Id.) After being
granted an extension of time to do so, plaintiff filed his
objections to the findings and recommendations on May 5,
2017. (Doc. No. 17.) Therein, plaintiff states that he does
not object to the recommended dismissal of his claims against
defendants Scott Kernan, O. Oneje, and Scott Frauenheim.
However, plaintiff does object to the dismissal of defendant
Dr. Chokatos, a physician at Pleasant Valley State Prison,
from this action. (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff states that
he is able to allege facts sufficient to state a § 1983
claim under the Eighth Amendment and a state law claim for
intentional infliction of emotional distress against Dr.
Chokatos. Accordingly, plaintiff requests leave to file a
proposed second amended complaint (see id., Ex. A),
which purportedly cures the pleading deficiencies identified
in the March 2, 2017 findings and recommendations.
accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636
(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 304, this court has conducted a
de novo review of this case. Having reviewed the
entire file, including plaintiff's objections, the court
finds that the findings and recommendations are supported by
the record and proper analysis with respect to
plaintiff's first amended complaint. However, having
reviewed plaintiff's proposed second amended complaint,
and for the reasons set forth below, the court will also
grant plaintiff leave to file a second amended complaint as
to his Eighth Amendment claim only.
PROPOSED SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT
proposed second amended complaint, plaintiff alleges the
following. Plaintiff was transferred to Pleasant Valley State
Prison (“PVSP”) in November 2011. (Doc. No. 17,
Ex. A ¶ 1.) In approximately June 2013, plaintiff was
diagnosed with coccidioidomycosis, or “Valley
Fever.” (Id. ¶¶ 9-10.) Valley Fever
is not a curable disease, and the disseminated form of the
disease is progressive, painful, and debilitating, and, if
left untreated, uniformly fatal once it progresses to
meningitis. (Id. ¶¶ 11, 13.) The only
medications found to be effective in treating Valley Fever
are certain triazole compounds, including Fluconazole dosed
at 400 milligrams per day; to be effective, Fluconazole must
be taken daily, and lifelong treatment is recommended.
(Id. ¶ 14.)
health officials have long known about the prevalence of
Valley Fever in the San Joaquin Valley region of the state.
In November 2004, the Deputy Director of Health Care Services
at the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) wrote a memorandum (the
“Kanan Memo”) to CDCR staff and officials
regarding Valley Fever, its origin, and its treatment.
(Id. ¶ 16.) The Kanan Memo recognized that
triazole compounds, such as Fluconazole, are the only
medications known to be effective on inmates with Valley
Fever. (Id.) The Kanan Memo was and continues to be
widely available to CDCR physicians, including defendant Dr.
Chokatos. (Id.) In April 2012, the California
Correctional Health Care Services released a report titled
“Coccidiodomycosis in California's Adult Prisons,
2006-2010, ” which concluded that the incidence of
Valley Fever has been increasing in some prisons, including
at PVSP. (Id. ¶ 17.)
Dr. Chokatos was the primary care physician assigned to
plaintiff by CDCR during the time he was at PVSP.
(Id. ¶ 2.) Defendant Chokatos regularly treated
patients with Valley Fever and knew that the only medications
shown to be effective in treating the disease were triazole
compounds, such as Fluconazole. (Id. ¶ 22.)
Soon after plaintiff was diagnosed with Valley Fever, he
requested that defendant Dr. Chokatos start him on
Fluconazole. (Id. ¶¶ 23-24.) Defendant
Chokatos refused. (Id. ¶ 24.) During the next
sixteen months, plaintiff's symptoms worsened, and he
repeatedly reported his symptoms to defendant Chokatos while
requesting Fluconazole; but on each occasion, defendant
Chokatos refused to provide such treatment. (Id.
¶ 25.) As a result of his refusal, plaintiff alleges
that the disease progressed, causing him to suffer body
aches, joint pain, and severe and debilitating fatigue.
(Id. ¶ 26.) Finally, in September 2014,
defendant Chokatos prescribed Fluconazole. (Id.
¶ 27.) The treatment eased his symptoms and appeared to
slow the progression of the disease. (Id.) By that
time, however, the delay in treatment had caused
plaintiff's disease to progress, causing additional and
worsening symptoms and suffering. (Id. ¶ 28.)
In this action, plaintiff seeks monetary and declaratory
on the aforementioned facts, plaintiff alleges a claim for
inadequate medical care under the Eighth Amendment and a
related state law claim for intentional inflection of
emotional distress (“IIED”).
Deliberate Indifference under the Eighth Amendment
Civil Rights Act, pursuant to which plaintiff alleges an
Eighth Amendment violation, provides as follows:
Every person who, under color of [state law] . . . subjects,
or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States .
. . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or
immunities secured by the Constitution . . . shall be liable
to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or
other proper proceeding for redress . . . .
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Thus, to make out a valid claim under
§ 1983, a plaintiff must allege and eventually prove
that (i) the conduct complained of was committed by a person
acting under color of state law; (ii) this conduct deprived a
person of constitutional rights; and (iii) there is an actual
connection or link between the actions of the defendants and
the deprivation allegedly suffered by decedent. See
Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535 (1981); Monell
v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690-95
(1978); Rizzo v. ...