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Gaddy v. Moghaddam

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 28, 2019

MICHAEL GADDY, Plaintiff,
v.
E. MOGHADDAM, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          ALLISON CLAIRE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff is a California inmate under the authority of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Plaintiff proceeds pro se with a complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and a request for leave to proceed in forma pauperis filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The complaint challenges medical care that plaintiff received while incarcerated at California State Prison - Sacramento.[1]

         This action is referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302(c). For the following reasons, plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. On screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the court finds that plaintiff's Claims One through Three (alleging deliberate indifference to plaintiff's broken hand by defendants Moghaddam, Spilman, Relano, Poppachan, Cho and Lim) adequate for service, but that Claim Four fails to state a claim. Plaintiff will be given the choice of (1) proceeding forthwith on Claims One through Three and dismissing Claim Four, or (2) amending his complaint to attempt to state a claim against defendants Burnett, Lacy and Crum.

         II. In Forma Pauperis Application

         Plaintiff has submitted an affidavit and prison trust account statement that make the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). See ECF No. 2. Accordingly, plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted.

         Plaintiff must nevertheless 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 to make monthly payments of twenty percent of the preceding month's income credited to plaintiff's 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).

         III. Screening of the Complaint

         A. Legal Standards for Screening Prisoner Civil Rights 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 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). A claim is legally frivolous when 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).

         Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “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 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). “T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require ‘detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). To survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (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.

         “A document filed pro se is ‘to be liberally construed,' and ‘a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976) (internal quotation marks omitted)). See also Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(e) (“Pleadings shall be so construed as to do justice.”). Additionally, a pro se litigant is entitled to notice of the deficiencies in the complaint and an opportunity to amend, unless the complaint's deficiencies cannot be cured by amendment. See Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987).

         B. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Defendants Dr. Maghaddam and Nurses Spilman, Relano, Poppachan, Cho and Lim were medical providers at CSP-SAC at the time of the events described in the complaint; Dr. Maghaddam was plaintiff's primary care physician. Plaintiff broke his hand on May 27, 2016, when he fell from his bunk. The injury caused excruciating pain. An X-ray taken on June 2, 2016 revealed an acute and displaced fracture of the second metacarpal. Plaintiff was referred on an “urgent” basis to see “ortho.” He was not taken to San Joaquin General Hospital to see “ortho” until June 16, 2016. In the interim, Dr. Maghaddam and the nurse defendants ignored plaintiff's many requests for adequate pain relief and to be seen promptly by ortho. After plaintiff's return from the hospital, Dr. Maghaddam and the nurse defendants continued to ignore plaintiff's written and oral requests to for adequate pain relief, resulting in severe pain and suffering. For approximately two months after his accident, plaintiff's hand remained “deformed” by the displaced broken bone, and he was unable to tie his shoes, exercise, or wash his clothes. Following surgery on July 21, 2016, which involved the placement of a metal plate and screws in his hand, plaintiff experienced finger numbness and continued extreme pain. Defendants continued to ignore his complaints. Plaintiff's pain was inadequately treated by the defendants until August 25, 2016, when effective pain medication was finally prescribed by the outside hospital.

         Plaintiff alleges that defendants Burnett, Lacy and Crum, who were appeals coordinators, failed to respond to two emergency grievances against Dr. Maghaddam and the nurse defendants. Plaintiff contends that the appeals coordinators failed to investigate his claims, and retaliated against him by interfering with the processing of his medical grievances.

         C. Claims for Which a Response Will Be Required

         Plaintiff's first three claims allege that the doctor and nurse defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Claim One lies against Dr. Maghaddam and sets forth the facts specific to him. Claim Two lies against Nurse Spilman and sets forth the facts specific to her. ...


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