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Caldwell v. Wartena

United States District Court, C.D. California

December 18, 2019





         On July 16, 2019, Plaintiff Lawrence Trevaun Caldwell (“Plaintiff”), an inmate at California Medical Facility (“CMF”) in Vacaville, California, proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint alleging violations of his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”). (Compl., ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff filed two duplicate Motions for Appointment of Counsel on July 16, 2019 and August 26, 2019 (Mots. Appoint Counsel, ECF Nos. 2, 8), which the Court denied on August 29, 2019 (Order Re Counsel, ECF No. 12). On August 26, 2019, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC, ” ECF No. 10), which the Court screened and dismissed with leave to amend on October 17, 2019 (Order Dismiss FAC, ECF No. 15). Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint on November 7, 2019. (“SAC, ” ECF No. 16.) On November 18, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Injunctive Relief (Mot. Inj., ECF No. 17), which the Court denied on November 27, 2019 (Order Re Inj., ECF No. 18).

         The Court has screened the SAC as prescribed by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). For the reasons stated below, the SAC is DISMISSED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND. Plaintiff is ORDERED to, within thirty days after the date of this Order, either: (1) file a Third Amended Complaint (“TAC”), or (2) advise the Court that Plaintiff does not intend to file a TAC.


         The SAC is filed against Dr. Erika Phyllis Wartena, a psychiatrist at Atascadero State Hospital (“ASH”), in her individual capacity. (SAC 3.)[2]

         On September 13, 2018, CDCR mental health doctors admitted Plaintiff to ASH to receive specialized mental health treatment. (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff was declared a danger to himself due to a history of cutting (self-mutilation) and swallowing sharp foreign bodies to cope with frustration. (Id.)

         Plaintiff was at ASH for only seven days: September 13-21, 2018. (Id.) Defendant intentionally failed to perform an adequate mental health evaluation on Plaintiff and never once attempted to help Plaintiff understand his feelings enough to work through them, nor engage Plaintiff in any helpful treatment modalities. (Id. at 6-7.) Defendant informed Plaintiff that she did not know if Dialectical Behavior Therapy-which “the doctors and clinicians at the CDCR all feel is the most important type of treatment for Plaintiff”-would be good for Plaintiff. (Id. at 10.) Defendant “refused to honor, render or provide the prescribed treatment requested or recommended by Plaintiff.” (Id.)

         Defendant believed that Plaintiff was a security risk due to Plaintiff's past marriage to a former ASH employee, Cornelia Rounds. (Id. at 7.) Plaintiff was told that a picture of Plaintiff and and his ex-wife was on the wall of various units at ASH as an example of “what not to do” for the staff. (Id. at 9.) Defendant told Plaintiff that she remembered Plaintiff from his last visit and his alleged relations with Cornelia Rounds, that they would be watching Plaintiff, and that if Plaintiff came onto her radar, he would regret it. (Id. at 10.)

         Defendant exposed Plaintiff to an excessive risk of harm when she discharged him to the Enhanced Out-Patient Program (“EOP”), which was an environment that was unsafe for Plaintiff at the time. (Id. at 7.) On September 22, 2018, less than twenty-four hours after he was discharged to EOP, Plaintiff inflicted multiple severe bi-lateral lacerations to both wrists and ingested numerous foreign bodies. (Id.) Plaintiff was evacuated to an outside hospital. (Id.)

         Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff asserts an Eighth Amendment claim for cruel and unusual punishment and state law violations, including negligence and malpractice. (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff seeks: (1) declaratory judgment that Defendant violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights; (2) injunctive relief allowing Plaintiff to receive further treatment at ASH; (3) compensatory and punitive damages; and (4) such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper. (Id. at 13.)


         Federal courts must conduct a preliminary screening of any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity (28 U.S.C. § 1915A), or in which a plaintiff proceeds in forma pauperis (28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)). The court must identify cognizable claims and dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, that is: (1) frivolous or malicious, (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or (3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b), 1915(e)(2)(B).

         When screening a complaint to determine whether it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, courts apply the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (“Rule 12(b)(6)”) standard. See Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (applying the Rule 12(b)(6) standard to 28 U.S.C. § Section 1915A); Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012) (applying the Rule 12(b)(6) standard to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)). “Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate only where the complaint lacks a cognizable legal theory or sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory.” H ...

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