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Goins v. Dimaculangan

United States District Court, E.D. California

January 8, 2020

RAYMOND LEE GOINS, Plaintiff,
v.
A. DIMACULANGAN, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          CAROLYN K. DELANEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff is a California prisoner proceeding pro se with an action for violation of civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On October 11, 2018, the court screened plaintiff's amended complaint as the court is required to do under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court found that plaintiff could proceed on a claim arising under the Eighth Amendment against defendant Dr. Truong Bao Le “to the extent plaintiff alleges [Dr. Le was] at least deliberately indifferent to a jaw condition suffered by plaintiff by failing to provide plaintiff with treatment or a referral for treatment.” (ECF No. 17 at 2.) Dr. Le has filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

         In order to avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim a complaint must contain more than “naked assertions, ” “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-557 (2007). In other words, “[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). Furthermore, a claim upon which the court can grant relief has facial plausibility. 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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         When considering whether a complaint states a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must accept the allegations as true, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007), and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, see Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). Review is generally limited to the complaint. Cervantes v. City of San Diego, 5 F.3d 1273, 1274 (9th Cir. 1993). Of course, the court “draw[s] on its judicial experience and common sense.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).[1]

         I. Facts Alleged

         In his amended complaint, plaintiff alleges as follows:

         1. Dr. Le is a physician at San Joaquin General Hospital.

         2. On June 27, 2016, after plaintiff had experienced problems with his jaw for about four days, plaintiff was transferred to San Joaquin General from California State Prison, Sacramento (CDP-Sac.) for a broken jaw.[2] After an x-ray confirmed plaintiff's broken jaw, plaintiff was seen by Dr. Le. Dr. Le diagnosed a dislocated and fractured jaw, a contusion and an abscess. Dr. Le indicated plaintiff's injuries were non-emergent and cleared plaintiff to return to CSP-Sac.

         3. Plaintiff asserts that during their June 27, 2016 visit, Dr. Le knew plaintiff was in pain.

         4. Plaintiff returned to San Joaquin General on July 1, 2016 for surgery on his jaw.

         II. Legal Standard

         Denial or delay of medical care for a prisoner's serious medical needs may constitute a violation of the prisoner's Eighth Amendment rights. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-05 (1976). A prison official is liable for such a violation only when the individual is deliberately indifferent to a prisoner's serious medical needs. Id.

         Deliberate indifference is established by showing (a) a purposeful act or failure to respond to a prisoner's pain or possible medical need and (b) harm caused by the indifference. Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006). Also, the prison official must not only “be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, ” but that person “must also draw the inference.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994). This “subjective approach” focuses only “on what a defendant's mental attitude actually was.” Id. at 839. A showing of merely negligent medical care is not enough to establish a constitutional violation. Frost v. Agnos, 152 F.3d 1124, 1130 (9th Cir. 1998), citing Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105-106. A difference of opinion about the proper course of treatment is not deliberate indifference, nor does a dispute between a prisoner and prison officials over the necessity for or extent of medical treatment amount to a constitutional violation. See, e.g., Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1058 (9th Cir. 2004). Furthermore, mere delay of medical treatment, “without more, is insufficient to state a claim of deliberate medical indifference.” Shapley v. Nev. Bd. of State ...


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