United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
KENDALL J. NEWMAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
is a state prisoner, who proceeds without counsel and in
forma pauperis, in this civil rights action filed pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case proceeds on plaintiff's
original complaint against defendants Wright and Champion.
Presently pending is defendants' motion for judgment on
the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c).
For the reasons that follow, the undersigned recommends that
defendants be granted qualified immunity, and that this
action be dismissed.
alleges that he was diagnosed with T-Cell peripheral
non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and has been designated
“high risk” and Cocci Area 1 and Area 2
restricted under CDCR policy. Despite such designation, on
November 3, 2016, plaintiff was transferred from High Desert
State Prison (“HDSP”) to Mule Creek State Prison,
by way of a lay-over at North Kern State Prison
(“NKSP”), which is located in a hyperendemic area
for coccidioidomycosis, also known as “Valley
Fever.” (ECF No. 1 at 4.) Plaintiff informed defendant
Champion that he was designated high risk for Valley Fever,
but defendant Champion insisted plaintiff get on the bus or
receive a rules violation report. Plaintiff alleges that
receiving and release RN M. Wright was also deliberately
indifferent because she is required to review and document
medical information prior to an inmate's transfer, and
the transfer form reflects she documented plaintiff's
lymphoma and noted his medical chronos, documenting the cocci
area restrictions, were reviewed by her prior to
plaintiff's transfer. Plaintiff also claims that
defendant Wright was required to “immediately call the
C&PR [Classification & Parole Representative] and
advise of plaintiff's medical restriction and imminent
transfer, and then inform the R&R [Receiving and Release]
Sergeant of such information. Plaintiff states there is no
evidence that defendant Wright did either of these duties.
Plaintiff alleges that because of his lymphoma, being exposed
to elevated levels of the cocci fungus (prevalent in the San
Joaquin Valley), could induce serious illness, including
seeks money damages.
Legal Standards: Motion for Judgment on the
to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
“[a]fter the pleadings are closed -- but early enough
not to delay trial -- a party may move for judgment on the
pleadings.” Id. Judgment on the pleadings is
appropriate when, even if all material facts in the pleading
under attack are true, the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Chavez v. United
States, 683 F.3d 1102, 1108 (9th Cir. 2012). Analysis
under Rule 12(c) is ‘substantially identical' to
analysis under Rule 12(b)(6) because, under both rules,
‘a court must determine whether the facts alleged in
the complaint, taken as true, entitle the plaintiff to a
legal remedy.'” Chavez, 683 F.3d at 1108,
quoting Brooks v. Dunlop Mfg. Inc., 2011 WL 6140912,
at *3 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 9, 2011).
complaint may survive a motion to dismiss if, taking all
well-pleaded factual allegations as true, it contains
‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Coto Settlement v.
Eisenberg, 593 F.3d 1031, 1034 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).
“‘A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.'” Caviness v.
Horizon Cmty. Learning Ctr., Inc., 590 F.3d 806, 812
(9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). In
considering a motion for judgment on the pleadings the court
accepts “all factual allegations in the complaint as
true” and construes the allegations “in the light
most favorable to the non-moving party.” Fleming v.
Pickard, 581 F.3d 922, 925 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing
Turner v. Cook, 362 F.3d 1219, 1225 (9th Cir.
2004)). Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate “when
there is no issue of material fact in dispute, and the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fleming, 581 F.3d at 925 (citing Heliotrope
Gen., Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 189 F.3d 971, 979 (9th
motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted, leave to
amend should be granted unless it is clear the complaint
cannot be saved by amendment. Jackson v. Barnes, 749
F.3d 755, 766-67 (9th Cir. 2014) (district court erred in
granting judgment on the pleadings and not permitting
amendment where it was not absolutely clear the deficiencies
were not curable).
the Eighth Amendment, “prison officials are . . .
prohibited from being deliberately indifferent to policies
and practices that expose inmates to a substantial risk of
serious harm.” Parsons v. Ryan, 754 F.3d 657,
677 (9th Cir. 2014); see also Farmer v. Brennan, 511
U.S. 825, 847 (1994) (prison official violates Eighth
Amendment if he or she knows of a substantial risk of serious
harm to an inmate and fails to take reasonable measures to
avoid the harm). Deliberate indifference occurs when
“[an] official acted or failed to act despite his
knowledge of a substantial risk of serious harm.”
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 841. Thus, a prisoner may state
“a cause of action under the Eighth Amendment by
alleging that [prison officials] have, with deliberate
indifference, exposed him to [conditions] that pose an
unreasonable risk of serious damage to his future
health.” Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 35
second step, showing ‘deliberate indifference, '
involves a two part inquiry.” Thomas v.
Ponder, 611 F.3d 1144, 1150 (9th Cir. 2010).
“First, the inmate must show that the prison officials
were aware of a ‘substantial risk of serious harm'
to an inmate's health or safety.” Id.
(quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837). “This part
of [the] inquiry may be satisfied if the inmate shows that
the risk posed by the deprivation is obvious.”
Thomas, 611 F.3d at 1150 (citation omitted).
“Second, the inmate must show that the prison officials
had no ‘reasonable' justification for the
deprivation, in spite of that risk.” Id.
(citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at 844 (“[P]rison
officials who actually knew of a substantial risk to inmate
health or safety may be found free from liability if they
responded reasonably.”) (footnote omitted).
the qualified immunity doctrine, government officials acting
in their official capacities are immunized from civil
liability unless their actions “violate clearly
established statutory or constitutional rights of which a
reasonable person would have known.” Pearson v.
Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009) (citations omitted).
The qualified immunity analysis includes two prongs: (1) the
facts must allege or show “a violation of a
constitutional right”; and (2) the right must be
“‘clearly established' at the time of
defendant's alleged misconduct.” Id.
(citations omitted). When engaging in ...