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Thomas v. Rodriguez

United States District Court, S.D. California

September 5, 2017

SAMMY THOMAS, CDCR #F-12551, Plaintiff,
v.
J. RODRIGUEZ, Correctional Officer; P. COLIO, Correctional Officer, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) [ECF No. 30]

          HON. ANTHONY J. BATTAGLIA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Sammy Thomas (“Plaintiff”), currently incarcerated at California State Prison - Los Angeles County, is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         Plaintiff claims Calipatria State Prison (“CAL”) Correctional Officers Rodriguez and Colio (“Defendants”) violated his Eighth Amendment rights by failing to properly secure him in a seatbelt during a prison transport from CAL to a hospital in Indio, California, for a physical therapy appointment on August 12, 2015. See Second Amend. Compl. (“SAC”), ECF No. 23 at 5-6.

         II. Procedural History

         On April 13, 2017, the Court directed the U.S. Marshal to effect service of Plaintiff's SAC upon Defendants pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(c)(3) (ECF No. 24).[1]

         On June 30, 2017, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (ECF No. 30). On the same day, the Court issued a briefing schedule as to Defendants' Motion, determined that no proposed findings and recommendations by the magistrate judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and S.D. Cal. CivLR 72.3(a) would be necessary, permitted Plaintiff to file an Opposition, and Defendants an opportunity to Reply (ECF No. 31).

         On August 18, 2017, Plaintiff filed his Opposition (ECF No. 32), and on August 24, 2017, Defendants filed their Reply (ECF No. 33). The Motion has been determined suitable for determination on the papers; therefore no oral argument was held, and no party was required to appear. See S.D. Cal. CivLR 7.1.d.1.

         For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint fails to state an Eighth Amendment claim as to either Defendant Colio or Rodriguez, and therefore GRANTS their Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (ECF No. 30).

         II. Plaintiff's Factual Allegations

         On the morning of August 12, 2015, Plaintiff alleges Defendants Colio and Rodriguez, both correctional officers at CAL, transported him from CAL to a hospital in Indio, California, for a physical therapy appointment. See SAC, ECF No. 23 at 5. Plaintiff does not explain the nature of his medical need for physical therapy on that day, but in another portion of his pleading he alleges to suffer from “degenerative disk disease, ” and exhibits attached to his SAC show he has been treated for “unresolved” and chronic lower back pain as early as December 2014, when he underwent an MRI of his lumbar spine while incarcerated at the Sierra Conservation Center. Id. at 7, 38-40.

         On August 12, 2015, Plaintiff contends he was “shackled with waist chains and handcuffs, ” and “placed in a van equipped with seat belts, ” but was unable to fasten them by himself due to the shackles. Id. at 5. Plaintiff claims to have asked Colio and Rodriguez, “Are you going to fasten my seatbelt?” But they replied, “No, you'll be alright.” Id. Plaintiff next claims that “[d]uring the transport[], … the van stopped suddenly and [he] was thrown forward, hit his head, and injured his back.” Id.

         Plaintiff next contends Defendants “continued to drive to the hospital, ” where he was examined by the physical therapist, and “completed his physical therapy with difficulty, ” before he was driven back to CAL, “this time with a seatbelt.” Id.

         Plaintiff alleges to have filed an inmate grievance related to the incident that was “granted in part.” Id. As a result of that grievance, Plaintiff claims the “prison admitted Rodriguez and Colio had violated department policy, ” but did not “identify which policy was violated.” Id.

         III. ...


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