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Legare v. Cryer

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 4, 2019

C. CRYER, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff James Paul Legare (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's complaint, filed on October 24, 2018, is currently before the Court for screening. (ECF No. 1.)

         I. Screening Requirement and Standard

          The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity and/or against an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Plaintiff's complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b).

         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)). 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).

         To survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         II. Allegations in Complaint

         Plaintiff is currently housed at the California Institution for Men in Chino, California. The events in the complaint are alleged to have occurred while Plaintiff was housed at the California Substance Abuse and Treatment Facility (“CSATF”) in Coalinga, California. Plaintiff names the following defendants: (1) C. Cryer, Chief Executive Officer; (2) S. Gates, Chief, Health Care Appeals Branch-Sacramento; and (3) Does 1 through 5, CSATF medical/health care providers.

         Claim I

         In Claim I, Plaintiff alleges that in July 2017, he was prescribed Oxcarbazepine (“Trileptal”) for pain management. Soon after taking Trileptal, Plaintiff began to suffer serious side effects. On August 1, 2017, Plaintiff submitted a CDCR 7362 medical request complaining of serious side effects from Trileptal and requesting that Trileptal be discontinued and another pain management medication be issued. Plaintiff complains that his complaints and request were met with deliberate indifference and no corrective treatment was provided by Doe Defendants.

         By August 15, 2017, Plaintiff could no longer withstand the side effects and refused to take Trileptal. As a result of his refusal, Doe Defendants issued Plaintiff a CDCR 128B record, which was negatively addressed by the Parole Board Commissioners on August 6, 2017.

         From August 15, 2017 to September 17, 2017, Doe Defendants provided Plaintiff with no care or treatment to relieve Plaintiff's groin pain. On September 17, 2017, acetaminophen (“Mapap”) was prescribed, which barely reduced the pain levels Plaintiff repeatedly reported to Doe Defendants. Plaintiff believes Mapap is nothing more than a fever reducer, which Doe Defendants knew and used to intentionally cause Plaintiff suffering.

         On October 13, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Health Care Administrative Appeal.

         On December 20, 2017, Defendant Cryer issued CSATF's institutional level response. Plaintiff contends that the response is deflective, callous and with self-serving verbiage that incorporates false statements that at no time was Plaintiff without pain medication. Additionally, Defendant Cryer stated that Trileptal was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) for use as a pain medication. He also stated that Plaintiff's primary care provider could not prescribe Trileptal for use as a pain medication if it was not approved for such use.

         On January 10, 2018, Plaintiff advanced his medical appeal to Headquarters Level for review. In his appeal, Plaintiff posed specific questions to Defendant Gates to clarify Defendant Cryer's statement that Trileptal was an authorized FDA pain management medication.

         On April 26, 2018, Defendant Gates issued the Headquarters Level Response to Plaintiff's medical appeal. Defendant Gates did not answer whether Trileptal is an FDA-authorized pain management medication. Plaintiff claims Defendant Gates' response was deflective with omissions.

         Plaintiff claims that contrary to the posture of Defendants Cryer, Gates and Doe Defendants, Trileptal is not an FDA-authorized drug to treat pain. Plaintiff cites to release notice in 2010 stating that the only authorized us for Trileptal is for treatment of epilepsy and there was a settlement for promoting Trileptal for use to treat pain.[1] Plaintiff further alleges that into 2016 and beyond, the FDA published information related to Trileptal informing CDCR health care providers and officials to properly train doctors. Plaintiff asserts that Defendants Cryer and Gates were required to ensure that Doe Defendants were properly trained. Plaintiff claims that defendants continue to prescribe Oxcarbazepine.

         Based on these allegations, Plaintiff asserts claims against Defendants Cryer and Gates based on their failure to adequately train prison doctors, deliberate indifference against Defendants Does 1 through 5, and emotional distress.

         Claim II

         In Claim II, Plaintiff alleges that he arrived at CSATF on March 9, 2017, to receive care for groin pain. After seven months of seeking pain relief, Plaintiff filed a CDCR 602 Health Care appeal alleging deliberate indifference and retaliation for prior exercise of his First Amendment rights. In his appeal, Plaintiff explained the pain he suffered, the ineffective psychotropic drugs to treat his pain, and the requests for referrals to specialists that were denied. Plaintiff contends that due to the inadequate pain management treatment, he suffered horrific pain that caused him to double over, fall to the ground injuring his head and arm or freezing like a statue.

         Plaintiff submitted a CDCR 7362 medical requests seeking prescription of Neurontin, a pain management drug, which suppressed all types of pain that Plaintiff suffered while on a prior prescription. Plaintiff's requests were ignored along with his requests for a housing accommodation to prevent injury caused by falls triggered by pain.

         Plaintiff alleged in his appeal that he was being retaliated against for his civil rights law suit in No. ED-cv-15-0833 JVS (AFM). Plaintiff claims that the CSATF medical delivery system has a history of engaging in retaliation against prisoners who file appeals or lawsuits. Plaintiff claims that as a result of the medical retaliation, he was intentionally denied adequate pain management treatment.

         On November 17, 2018, Defendant Cryer and the Doe Defendants issued their Institutional Level response to his appeal. In the response, it was noted that Doe Defendants denied Plaintiff's referral to a specialist because surgery was deemed not an option for Plaintiff's condition. Plaintiff claims that it was known that surgery was the only option to treat his condition and the referral was later granted because of his need. Defendant Cryer also noted that Doe Defendants accommodated Plaintiff with an appropriate housing assignment to prevent further physical injuries, but allowed Plaintiff to suffer horrific pain levels that caused him to fall and injure his head and arm. The response also cited that Plaintiff was prescribed Trileptal, but because he did not tolerate it well, he was subsequently prescribed a low dose ...

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