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Brothers v. Buenafe

United States District Court, E.D. California

February 27, 2018

CHITA BUENAFE, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on May 1, 2017. Plaintiff has consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. (ECF No. 5). No other parties have appeared.

         On July 13, 2017, Plaintiff's complaint was dismissed with leave to amend. (ECF No. 6.) On August 11, 2017, Plaintiff's first amended complaint was filed. (ECF No. 10.) On August 31, 2017, without first seeking leave of the Court, Plaintiff lodged another amended complaint. (ECF No. 11.) The Court screened the more recent of the two amended complaints. (ECF No. 11). On October 19, 2017, the Court dismissed the first amended complaint with thirty days leave to amend. (ECF No. 12.) Plaintiff requested and was granted one extension of time. (ECF Nos. 13; 14.) On December 8, 2017, Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint, which is now before the Court for screening. (ECF No. 15.)

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds Plaintiff has stated no cognizable claims for relief. The Court recommends that Plaintiff's second amended complaint be dismissed with prejudice. The undersigned directs the Clerk of Court to assign a District Judge to this action to rule upon the following recommendations.

         I. Screening Requirement

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally “frivolous or malicious, ” that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). “Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         II. Pleading Standard

         Section 1983 provides a cause of action against any person who deprives an individual of federally guaranteed rights “under color” of state law. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 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 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)), and 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). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Under section 1983, Plaintiff 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). 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), but nevertheless, the mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting the plausibility standard, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         III. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at the California State Prison, Los Angeles County in Lancaster, California, however he complains of acts that occurred at the California State Prison, Corcoran in Corcoran, California (“CSPC”). Plaintiff brings this action against three Defendants: Dr. Chita Buenafe, a dentist; N. Flores, a dental assistant; and E. Clark, a medical doctor who reviewed Plaintiff's inmate appeals. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated the Eighth Amendment.

         A. Original Complaint and Screening Order

         In the original complaint, Plaintiff brought an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Buenafe and Flores (as well as a third Defendant who is no longer named in this action) for Eighth Amendment violations. (ECF No. 1.) In that version of the complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants Buenafe and Flores used the dental procedure to implant electrodes in Plaintiff's mouth and used them to track and control him. (ECF No. 1.) In the Court's first screening order, the complaint was dismissed as implausible. (ECF No. 6.) Plaintiff was advised that to the extent he actually suffered serious pain after his March 10, 2014 dental appointment, and Defendants were deliberately indifferent to that pain, Plaintiff would be granted leave to amend to demonstrate how Defendants should have but failed to address his objectively serious medical needs. (Id.)

         B. First Amended Complaint and Screening Order

         In the first amended complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants Buenafe and Flores performed dental surgery on him on March 10, 2014. As a result of the surgery, his left orbital bone was fractured, leaving him in serious pain. Plaintiff verbally complained to defendants about the pain and filed an inmate appeal. Defendant Clark reviewed Plaintiff's inmate appeal and ordered an October 2014 MRI which revealed the left orbital fracture. Despite the MRI findings and ...

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