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Pride v. Correa

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

July 16, 2013

David Codell Pride, Jr., Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
M. Correa; Levin, Dr.; T. Ochoa, Warden; Santiago, Dr., Defendants-Appellees.

Argued and Submitted December 6, 2012—Pasadena, California

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of California D.C. No. 3:07-cv-01382-BEN-JMA Roger T. Benitez, District Judge, Presiding.

Johanna S. Schiavoni (argued), Jacobs Schlesinger & Sheppard LLP, San Diego, California, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Vickie P. Whitney (argued), Deputy Attorney General, Sacramento, California; William N. Frank, Deputy Attorney General; Thomas S. Patterson, Supervising Deputy Attorney General; Jonathan L. Wolff, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General of California, Los Angeles, California, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before: Harry Pregerson, John T. Noonan, and Richard A. Paez, Circuit Judges.

SUMMARY[*]

Prisoner Civil Rights

Reversing the district court's dismissal of a prisoner's claim for injunctive relief concerning medical treatment, the panel held that the prisoner's claim was not encompassed by the pending class action Plata v. Brown, No. C01-1351 THE, which seeks systemic reform of medical care in California prisons.

The panel held that where a California prisoner brings an independent claim for injunctive relief solely on his own behalf for specific medical treatment denied to him, Plata does not bar the prisoner's claim. In this case, plaintiff essentially alleged that his treating physician prescribed him medical treatment, which was subsequently denied, without justification, by a committee of non-treating medical providers. The panel held that plaintiff could bring his independent claim for injunctive relief because it was not duplicative of the Plata litigation or addressed conclusively in the Plata Stipulation. On remand, the panel instructed the district court to determine whether the claim for injunctive relief was moot as to the Chief Medical Officer given that the prisoner was transferred to another prison.

OPINION

PREGERSON, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiff-Appellant David Pride is a California state prisoner. In an action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Pride claims that Defendants-Appellees, officials and employees of Calipatria Prison, violated his Eighth Amendment rights by acting with deliberate indifference towards his serious medical needs. He seeks damages and injunctive relief concerning his own individual medical treatment. The district court dismissed Pride's claim for injunctive relief on the ground that Pride's claim is already being provided for in the class action Plata v. Brown, No. C01-1351 THE, pending in the Northern District of California. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We reverse the district court's dismissal of Pride's claim for injunctive relief. We hold that because Pride's claim for injunctive relief concerns only his individual medical care, his claim is not already encompassed in the Plata litigation, which seeks systemic reform of medical care in California prisons.[1]

I.

In his pro se complaint, Pride alleges that he has a permanent shoulder injury from prior gunshot wounds. He alleges that his shoulder was shattered by bullets and could not be fully mended. His gunshot injuries allegedly cause him significant pain and difficulty sleeping, and prevent him from exercising. Pride contends that he also has an old sports injury that causes his knee to slide out of joint, resulting in pain and swelling.

The complaint further alleges that while Pride was a prisoner at Pelican Bay State Prison, a prison doctor examined him and prescribed him a double mattress and a knee brace for his injuries. Once Pride was transferred to Calipatria State Prison, he sought the same treatment from his treating physician, Dr. Santiago. Pride alleges that after conducting a medical examination, including a specific examination of his shoulder and knees, Dr. Santiago issued a chrono[2] prescribing Pride knee braces and an egg crate mattress.[3] Pride alleges, however, that a Chrono Committee reviewing Dr. Santiago's chrono improperly denied the prescribed medical treatment. Pride asserts that because of the denial of medical care he is in constant pain and is unable to sleep.

After exhausting his administrative remedies, Pride filed his pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for denial of adequate medical care against two alleged members of the Chrono Committee, Defendants M. Correa, a nurse, and Dr. Levin, the Chief Medical Officer of Calipatria State Prison.[4]Pride requested injunctive relief to prevent Defendants from denying him medical treatment and accommodations.

II.

Defendants filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure solely on the ground that Pride's claim for injunctive relief "cannot be brought independently of the Plata class-action." The assigned magistrate judge recommended denying Defendants' motion. Defendants objected to the recommendation, repeating the same argument. The district court declined to adopt the magistrate judge's recommendation. Instead, the district court construed Defendants' motion as a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss "for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter because the claim is currently pending as a class ...


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