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Fernandez v. Tampkins

United States District Court, C.D. California

December 18, 2019

CYNTHIA TAMPKINS et al. Defendants.




         On July 29, 2019, Plaintiff DuJuan Mauricio Fernandez (“Plaintiff”), an inmate at California Substance Abuse and Treatment Facility and Prison, 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.) On November 15, 2019, the Court screened and dismissed the Complaint with leave to file an amended Complaint. (Order Dismiss Compl., ECF No. 8.) Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint on December 10, 2019. (“FAC, ” ECF No. 9.)

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


         The FAC is filed against: (1) Cynthia Tampkins, Warden of California Rehabilitation Center (“CRC”); (2) Steve Sasaki, Principal of Vista Del Rio Adult School (the “School”); (3) Tracey Roberson, Teacher of classroom 604A in the School; and (4) R. Lunday, Fire Captain of the CRC Institutional Fire Department (each, a “Defendant” and collectively, “Defendants”). (FAC 3-4.)[1] Each Defendant is sued in his or her individual capacity. (Id.)

         The FAC and attached exhibits[2] contain the following allegations and claims: On March 22, 2018, Plaintiff was assigned to classroom 604-A of the School. (Id. at 7.) Plaintiff signed out to use the restroom. (Id.) Preceding his departure, there was a large puddle of water on the floor which Plaintiff attempted to go around. (Id.) Plaintiff slipped and landed on his back, striking his head and tail bone on the floor and losing consciousness for several minutes. (Id.) When Plaintiff regained consciousness, the Nurse, Ms. Halstead, Officer Trotter, Devilla, and Defendant Fire Captain Lundy were standing over and/or around Plaintiff. (Id.)

         The source of the large water puddle came from a leak in the ceiling, which had been an ongoing safety issue. (Id.) Objective evidence demonstrated seven to ten missing tiles from the ceiling over the standing puddle, which had been damaged for two years. (Id.) Each Defendant had personal knowledge of the condition of the property and failed to take necessary action to prevent Plaintiff's injury. (Id. at 5.) Repeated requests for repairs had been made to Principal Sasaki, among others, who ignored those requests. (Id. at 7.) The Warden, Fire Captain, Plant Operations, and several other Administrators and Custodial Officials were aware that a significant risk of injury to prisoners existed over a two-year period without taking action. (Id.)

         Defendant Tampkins, as the Warden of CRC, was responsible for the overall care, health, safety, education, and development of each prisoner confined at CRC, including Plaintiff. (Id. at 5.) Defendant Tampkins personally was advised that there existed a dangerous condition of state property, but failed to assure the dangerous condition was corrected over a two-year period, despite numerous written and verbal complaints, work orders, and notices submitted by the inmate population and other staff. (Id.)

         Defendant Lundy was the Chief of the Institutional Fire Department responsible for examination of each building and conditions as they relate to prisoner occupation, including, but not limited to, fire hazards, structural damage posing a significant risk of harm to all patrons, room occupancy, and any objective risk of harm. (Id.) Defendant Lundy failed to assure the damages to the ceiling were properly conveyed to “Plant Operations” to prevent a significant risk of harm to the inmate population participating in the programs, activities and services provided by the CDCR. (Id. at 5-6.)

         Defendant Sasaki, as the Principal over all teachers at the School, was responsible for assuring all CRC prisoners attending the School were provided with a safe environment while participating in the programs, services, and activities provided by the CDCR and CRC. (Id. at 6.) Defendant Sasaki was aware of the damages to the ceiling at the School, but failed to assure that all inmates were provided a safe environment, as demonstrated by two years of continuous disrepair. (Id.)

         Defendant Roberson was the teacher of the class where Plaintiff was assigned and the ceiling was damaged. (Id.) Defendant Roberson allowed inmates access to an area known to pose a significant risk of serious physical injury despite personal knowledge of a water puddle continuing to increase, and without notifying janitorial staff to place warning cones. (Id.) Defendant Roberson was aware that several complaints had been filed regarding the risk of harm posed by the damaged ceiling and leaking water. (Id.)

         Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff asserts the following claims: (1) negligence; (2) deliberate indifference; (3) failure to protect from substantial risk of harm; (4) the integrity of the building, including pursuant to Government Code Sections 815 and 830; and (5) failure to properly train. (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff seeks: (a) monetary damages of $400, 000 but no less than $2, 500 per act and/or omission; (b) punitive damages; (c) injunctive relief; (d) attorney fees and costs; and (e) such other relief as the Court deems just, proper and equitable. (Id. at 8.)

         III. ...

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