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Matthews v. Thomas

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 25, 2019

DWIGHT MATHEWS, Plaintiff,
v.
S. THOMAS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          ALLISON CLAIRE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and has requested leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

         I. Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Plaintiff has submitted a declaration that makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). ECF No. 2. Accordingly, the request to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted.

         Plaintiff is required to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for this action. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a), 1915(b)(1). By this order, plaintiff will be assessed an initial partial filing fee in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). By separate order, the court will direct the appropriate agency to collect the initial partial filing fee from plaintiff's trust account and forward it to the Clerk of the Court. Thereafter, plaintiff will be obligated for monthly payments of twenty percent of the preceding month's income credited to plaintiff's prison trust account. These payments will be forwarded by the appropriate agency to the Clerk of the Court each time the amount in plaintiff's account exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee is paid in full. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

         II. Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints

         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 “frivolous, malicious, or 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).

         A claim “is [legally] frivolous where it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). “[A] judge may dismiss . . . claims which are ‘based on indisputably meritless legal theories' or whose ‘factual contentions are clearly baseless.'” Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989) (quoting Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327), superseded by statute on other grounds as stated in Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000). The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis. Id.; Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227-28 (citations omitted).

         “Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (alteration in original) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). “Failure to state a claim under § 1915A incorporates the familiar standard applied in the context of failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).” Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted). In order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, a complaint must contain more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action;” it must contain factual allegations sufficient “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). “[T]he pleading must contain something more . . . than . . . a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action.” Id. (alteration in original) (quoting 5 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216 (3d ed. 2004)).

         “[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “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.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Hosp. Bldg. Co. v. Trs. of the Rex Hosp., 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976), as well as construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor, Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969) (citations omitted).

         III. Complaint

         The complaint names licensed vocational nurse Thomas and correctional officers Oldham, Lea, Richards, Rana, Moreira, Badill, and DeSouza as defendants. ECF No. 1 at 3. Plaintiff alleges that on August 8, 2015, he submitted a grievance against Thomas for giving him a medication that had not been prescribed to him. Id. at 4. When Oldham mentioned to Thomas that the medicine being provided was not for plaintiff, Thomas replied that “it's okay.” Id. Two days after submitting the appeal, plaintiff “had a reaction, due to [his] Fibroses condition (LUNG DISEASE).” Id.

         Approximately two months later, plaintiff filled out a medical refill request for his medication (Atrovent) in front of Thomas. Id. at 5. Two days later, plaintiff told Oldham to ask Thomas about his inhaler, and that was when he became aware of a medical document with Thomas' signature on it that had a line drawn through Atrovent and the medication Dulera written in. Id. He alleges that Thomas intentionally withheld his prescribed medication, attempted to give him a non-prescribed medication, and then attempted to cover up the act. Id.

         With respect to the other defendants, plaintiff alleges that on November 16, 2015, Richards admitted to “turning the hot water up in cell 130, ” which caused plaintiff and some of his property to get wet. Id. at 6. Rana allegedly accessed plaintiff's C-File with the intent to cause harm to plaintiff by revealing the contents. Id. at 7. Lea allegedly “instructed co-defendant Badill on how to have [plaintiff] touch him an[d] get a staff assault.” Id. at 6.

         Plaintiff also alleges that each defendant subjected him to a “prolong[ed] and constant pattern of harassment and retaliatory conduct for the protected conduct of redress within CDCR administrative appeal process at California Medical Facility on 8-8-2015” and entered into an agreement on November 16, 2015, to not help plaintiff even if he had a problem breathing. Id. at 5-8. He separately alleges that each defendant, other than Thomas, subjected him to a pattern of harassment and retaliatory conduct, as well as concealing evidence and presenting false testimony, and interfering with plaintiff's exercise of his constitutional rights. Id. at 5-8. Defendants also “willingly contributed to the destructive conduct by preventing the protected conduct of redress within the Administrative Appeal process to cease the misconduct, ” and violated their duties to protect plaintiff from harm and to report the violations, misconduct, and mistreatment. Id.

         IV. Failure ...


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