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Bodnar v. Maddax

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 28, 2018

MADDAX, et al., Defendants.


         Thomas Bodnar (“Plaintiff”) is a prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with this civil rights action pursuant filed to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed the Complaint commencing this action on June 20, 2017, in the Central District of California. (ECF No. 1). It was transferred to this District on June 22, 2017. (ECF No. 4).

         Plaintiff alleges that multiple prison primary care physicians and medical professionals failed to treat his pain and worsening symptoms related to a surgery in 2006. Although they committed to refer him to an orthopedic surgeon, they repeatedly failed to do so. When Plaintiff finally saw the orthopedic surgeon, they failed to allow him to see the orthopedic surgeon again after various tests were taken.

         The Court has reviewed the complaint and recommends that it be dismissed because it fails to state a violation of the constitution because what Plaintiff describes amounts to negligence, and not deliberate indifference as that term is used in the relevant case law.

         Plaintiff has also asserted state law claims for professional negligence and medical malpractice. The Court recommends declining to exercise jurisdiction over these claims in light of the dismissal of Plaintiff's federal claims (Plaintiff may file a lawsuit in state court regarding these state law claims if he so chooses).


         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or 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). As Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis (ECF No. 7), the Court may also screen the complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. “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).

         A complaint is required to 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)). Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id. at 679. 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). Additionally, a plaintiff's legal conclusions are not accepted as true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Pleadings of pro se plaintiffs “must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (holding that pro se complaints should continue to be liberally construed after Iqbal).


         Plaintiff alleges that, in 2006, he had surgery placing metal plates and screws in his left shoulder. In 2009, Plaintiff was incarcerated at Ironwood State Prison (“ISP”). In 2012, Plaintiff began to experience sharp pain inside his left shoulder and numbness in digits 4 and 5 of his left hand. Plaintiff's Primary Care Physician (“PCP”) ordered x-rays. After seeing them, the PCP put in a Request for Services (“RFS”) for Plaintiff to see an orthopedic surgeon. Plaintiff went to Riverside Regional Medical Center, and the orthopedic surgeon ordered tests to be done and then asked for Plaintiff to return.

         However, Plaintiff was then transferred to Valley State Prison (“VSP”). Defendant Dr. Maddax was Plaintiff's first PCP upon arrival at VSP. Plaintiff told Maddax about his shoulder injury. Dr. Maddaz stated she would put in an RFS for Plaintiff to see an orthopedic surgeon close to VSP.

         Plaintiff waited 90 days and then asked about the referral. It took another 3 weeks for Plaintiff to see Dr. Maddax. When he did, Dr. Maddax said she had not done the RFS, but now would do so. Dr. Maddax did not perform any tests herself or try any treatment, despite Plaintiff explaining that the pain inside his left shoulder was getting more frequent, as well as the numbness and tingling in digits 4 and 5 of his left hand.

         Again, Plaintiff waited and then put in a medical request. After several weeks, Plaintiff saw Dr. Maddax. Again, she had not issued the RFS. This scenario happened several times. Dr. Maddax would say that she would issue an RFS for an orthopedic surgeon and then failed to do it. Dr. Maddax never provided any care (although she kept Plaintiff's pain medication where it was before 2012).

         After approximately a year, Defendant Dr. Johnson became Plaintiff's PCP. Plaintiff explained the medical complaints, the recommendation to see the orthopedic surgeon in order to determine the cause, and how Dr. Maddax kept saying she would do an RFS. Dr. Johnson ordered x-rays. Once ...

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