United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
GEORGETTE G. PURNELL, Plaintiff,
CITY OF SUNNYVALE POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS RE:
DKT. NO. 52
J. DAVILA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Georgette G. Purnell (“Purnell”), who is
proceeding pro se, initiated this action asserting violations
of her civil rights. Defendants Officers Clyde Cheng
(“Cheng”) and Puaolena Reis (“Reis”)
move to dismiss Purnell's section 1983 claim for
deliberate indifference to medical needs. The Court finds it
appropriate to take the motion under submission for decision
without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b).
For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion will
December of 2016, Purnell was involved in an altercation with
the owners of the Patio Bar in Sunnyvale. SAC ¶ 1.
Purnell contacted the Sunnyvale Police Department to make a
report that she had been assaulted. Id. Officer
Cheng, however, arrested Purnell based upon the owners'
account of the altercation. Id. While being
transported to the county jail, Purnell requested but was
denied medical care for “some knots” she
sustained during the altercation. Id. ¶¶
2-3. Upon arrival at the county jail, Purnell repeated her
request for medical care to no avail. Id.
¶¶ 4-5. Jail guards assisted by Officers Cheng and
Reis threw Purnell against the wall and then to the floor.
Id. Purnell's request to use the restroom was
also denied. Id. ¶ 6. Purnell alleges that
Defendants violated her constitutional rights because they
used excessive force and were deliberately indifferent to her
medical needs, as well as her basic human needs. Id.
motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of claims alleged in the
complaint. Parks Sch. of Bus., Inc. v. Symington, 51
F.3d 1480, 1484 (9th Cir. 1995). When deciding whether to
grant a motion to dismiss, the court must generally accept as
true all “well-pleaded factual allegations.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 664 (2009). The
court must also construe the alleged facts in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff. See Retail Prop. Trust v.
United Bhd. Of Carpenters & Joiners of Am., 768 F.3d
938, 945 (9th Cir. 2014) (providing the court must
“draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
nonmoving party” for a Rule 12(b)(6) motion). The
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. at 678 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Dismissal “is
proper only where there is no cognizable legal theory or an
absence of sufficient facts alleged to support a cognizable
legal theory.” Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729,
732 (9th Cir. 2001).
pleadings must be construed liberally. Resnick v.
Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000). The Court,
however, “need not give a plaintiff the benefit of
every conceivable doubt” but “is required only to
draw every reasonable or warranted factual inference in the
plaintiff's favor.” McKinney v. De Bord,
507 F.2d 501, 504 (9th Cir. 1974). The Court “should
use common sense in interpreting the frequently diffuse
pleadings of pro se complainants.” Id. A pro
se complaint should not be dismissed unless the court finds
it “beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of
facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to
relief.” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 521
pretrial detainee's claim for violation of the right to
adequate medical care against individual defendants under the
Fourteenth Amendment “must be evaluated under an
objective deliberate indifference standard.” Gordon
v. County of Orange, 888 F.3d 1118, 1124 (9th Cir.
2018). “[T]he elements of a pretrial detainee's
medical care claim against an individual under the due
process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment are: (i) the
defendant made an intentional decision with respect to the
conditions under which the plaintiff was confined; (ii) those
conditions put the plaintiff at substantial risk of suffering
serious harm; (iii) the defendant did not take reasonable
available measures to abate that risk, even though a
reasonable official in the circumstances would have
appreciated the high degree of risk involved-making the
consequences of the defendant's conduct obvious; and (iv)
by not taking such measures, the defendant caused the
plaintiff's injuries.” Id. at 1125. To
prevail on such a claim, a plaintiff must show deliberate
indifference to “serious medical needs.”
Coldwell v. Bannister, 763 F.3d 1060, 1066 (9th Cir.
2014). “Such a need exists if failure to treat the
injury or condition ‘could result in further
significant injury' or cause ‘the unnecessary and
wanton infliction of pain.'” Id.
Purnell's allegations are insufficient to state a claim
for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need.
Purnell's allegations that she had been “viciously
assaulted, ” sustained injuries, had “some
knots” and “tremendous pains” (SAC
¶¶ 1, 2, 4) are too vague. The SAC also lacks
sufficient facts to establish the third element, namely that
Defendants Reis and Cheng failed to take reasonable available
measures to abate the risk to Purnell, even though a
reasonable official in their circumstance would have
appreciated the “high degree of risk” to Purnell
and that the consequences of Defendants' conduct were
obvious. Nor are there sufficient allegations to support a
plausible inference that Defendants caused Purnell injuries.
reasons set forth above, Defendants' motion to dismiss
the claim for deliberate indifference to medical needs is
GRANTED without leave to amend. Purnell has had several
opportunities to state a valid claim (Complaint, First
Amended Complaint and SAC), and therefore any further
attempts at amending the claim are likely to be futile.