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White v. County of Clark Nevada

United States District Court, D. Nevada

December 8, 2017

COUNTY OF CLARK NEVADA et al., Defendants.


         Plaintiff, who is a pretrial detainee in the custody of the Clark County Detention Center (“CCDC”), has submitted a third amended civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 38). Plaintiff has paid the filing fee in full. (ECF No. 27). The Court now screens Plaintiff's third amended civil rights complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.


         Federal courts must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings, however, must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements:

(1) the violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, and
(2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

         In addition to the screening requirements under § 1915A, pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), a federal court must dismiss a prisoner's claim, if “the allegation of poverty is untrue, ” or if the action “is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Dismissal of a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted is provided for in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and the court applies the same standard under § 1915 when reviewing the adequacy of a complaint or an amended complaint. When a court dismisses a complaint under § 1915(e), the plaintiff should be given leave to amend the complaint with directions as to curing its deficiencies, unless it is clear from the face of the complaint that the deficiencies could not be cured by amendment. See Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995).

         Review under Rule 12(b)(6) is essentially a ruling on a question of law. See Chappel v. Lab. Corp. of America, 232 F.3d 719, 723 (9th Cir. 2000). Dismissal for failure to state a claim is proper only if it is clear that the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of the claim that would entitle him or her to relief. See Morley v. Walker, 175 F.3d 756, 759 (9th Cir. 1999). In making this determination, the court takes as true all allegations of material fact stated in the complaint, and the court construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Warshaw v. Xoma Corp., 74 F.3d 955, 957 (9th Cir. 1996). Allegations of a pro se complainant are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. See Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980). While the standard under Rule 12(b)(6) does not require detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff must provide more than mere labels and conclusions. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action is insufficient. Id.

         Additionally, a reviewing court should “begin by identifying pleadings [allegations] that, because they are no more than mere conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). “While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported with factual allegations.” Id. “When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Id. “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief . . . [is] a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id.

         Finally, all or part of a complaint filed by a prisoner may therefore be dismissed sua sponte if the prisoner's claims lack an arguable basis either in law or in fact. This includes claims based on legal conclusions that are untenable (e.g., claims against defendants who are immune from suit or claims of infringement of a legal interest which clearly does not exist), as well as claims based on fanciful factual allegations (e.g., fantastic or delusional scenarios). See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989); see also McKeever v. Block, 932 F.2d 795, 798 (9th Cir. 1991).


         In the third amended complaint (“TAC”), Plaintiff sues multiple defendants for events that took place while Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee incarcerated at the Henderson Detention Center (“HDC”) and Clark County Detention Center (“CCDC”). (ECF No. 38 at 5, 8). Plaintiff sues Defendants County of Clark County Nevada (“COCN”), Naphcare, City of Henderson (“COHN”), Henderson Police Department (“HPD”), Henderson Detention Center Medical Administration (“HDCMA”), City of Las Vegas (“CLV”), Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (“LVMPD”), Joseph Lombardo, Patrick Moers, H. Coker, Delacruz, D. Hardin, M. Smith, M. Hogan, V. Goins, L. Williamson, F. Cadet, C. Smith, John Gregg, Pollard, Acevedo, J. Chavez, R. Robinson, Ryan Adams, Anthony Niswonger, Arthur (last name unknown), Ashley (last name unknown), and M. Alvarado.[1] (Id. at 3-4). Plaintiff alleges seven counts and seeks monetary damages and declaratory judgment. (Id. at 33, 36).

         The TAC alleges the following: Before September 3, 2015, Plaintiff suffered from dual addictions, epilepsy, valley fever, hearing impairments, partial paralysis/immobility of the left wrist, and mental health issues. (Id. at 4). On September 3, 2015, Plaintiff was in a motor vehicle accident that caused Plaintiff to suffer from chronic head, spine, and neck injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic debilitating pain, and mental illness. (Id.) Without his prescription glasses, Plaintiff suffered from blurred vision and severe headaches when he tried to read or write. (Id.) Between September 3, 2015 and January 22, 2016, Plaintiff received ongoing treatment and pain management from several doctors and received prescription glasses. (Id. at 5). Plaintiff also had used a medically-necessary left hand brace for over ten years. (Id.)

         On January 22, 2016, Plaintiff was “subject to arrest by” COCN, COHN, HPD, CLV, LVMPD, Moers, and Lombardo. (Id.). Officer Gregg transported Plaintiff to the HDC. (Id.) After his arrest, Adams, Gregg, and Niswonger switched Plaintiff's handcuffs from LVMPD to HPD. (Id.) Adams and Niswonger directed Gregg to seize Plaintiff's hand brace. (Id.)

         At HDC, Plaintiff underwent a medical screening by HDCMA. (Id.) During the screening, Plaintiff reported that he had a seizure disorder, drug and nicotine withdrawal, valley fever, PTSD, paranoid schizophrenia, a hearing impairment, left hand/wrist immobility, severe head, neck, and back injury, chronic debilitating pain, and mental health concerns. (Id.) Plaintiff also stated that he needed his left wrist brace and his prescription eyeglasses. (Id.) Plaintiff identified his current prescriptions and provided a list of his prescribing pharmacies. (Id. at 6).

         COCN, HDCMA, and Moers had a no narcotic policy and, thus, HDCMA Does refused to honor Plaintiff's pre-arrest prescriptions. (Id.) This caused Plaintiff to suffer from “disabling/excruciating pains, ” drug withdrawal, and sleep deprivation for 12 days. (Id.). Jail officials deprived Plaintiff of his wrist brace and seizure medication. (Id. at 7). As a result, Plaintiff had two seizures between January 27 and January 30, 2016. (Id.) During the second seizure, Plaintiff suffered a partial stroke. (Id.) M. Smith and Acevedo deprived Plaintiff of his seizure medication even though Plaintiff had informed them of his need for it. (Id.)

         Without legitimate cause, Chavez and Robinson, under the orders of Adams and Niswonger, put Plaintiff in punitive segregation after booking. (Id.) Plaintiff stayed there for 12 days. (Id.) On January 27, 2016, Niswonger and Adams sought to interview Plaintiff. (Id.) Prior to being interviewed, Plaintiff asked for his prescription glasses because the strain in his eyes caused him to have headaches. (Id.) Plaintiff also asked for his wrist brace. (Id.) Niswonger and Adams refused the requests. (Id.)

         Plaintiff complained to M. Smith and Acevedo about his medical needs. (Id.) HDCMA Does only gave Plaintiff ibuprofen and failed to address Plaintiff's need for his brace and prescription eyeglasses. (Id.)

         On February 3, 2016, HPD officials transported Plaintiff into the custody of COCN, Naphcare staff, CLV, LVMPD, Lombardo, Coker, Delacruz, Hogan, Goins, Williamson, Cadet, and C. Smith. (Id.) At CCDC, Plaintiff reported all of his medical needs to Naphcare Does and requested a lower bunk accommodation. (Id. at 8). Based on a no narcotic policy, Williamson and Naphcare Does prescribed Plaintiff ibuprofen even though they knew it was ineffective. (Id.)

         At the approval of COCN, CLV, Naphcare Does, LVMPD, and Lombardo's policy, jail officials assigned Plaintiff a hard cell furnished with concrete slabs and hard wood benches despite Plaintiff's substantial head, spine, and neck injuries. (Id.) Jail officials did not provide Plaintiff with any bedding, including a mattress, and kept Plaintiff in the hard cell for three days. (Id. at 8-9). These conditions aggravated Plaintiff's head, spine, and neck injuries. (Id. at 8).

         Doe jail officials denied Plaintiff's request for grievances and writing instruments and told Plaintiff to wait until he moved upstairs. (Id. at 9). On February 6, 2016, jail officials rehoused Plaintiff but did not give him his left hand brace, eye glasses, or any pain management. (Id.)

         Jail officials assigned Plaintiff an upper bunk. (Id.) On February 10, 2016, Plaintiff had a seizure. (Id.) Williamson refused to provide Plaintiff with adequate pain management. (Id.) Coker, Hogan, Delacruz, Goins, Cadet and C. Smith refused to move Plaintiff to a lower bunk. (Id.)

         Prior to April 20, 2016, C. Smith assigned Plaintiff to an upper bunk even though Plaintiff was a seizure patient. (Id. at 10). Plaintiff made several requests to be moved to a lower bunk but Lombardo, Coker, Delacruz, Hogan, Goins, Williamson, Cadet, and C. Smith refused to move Plaintiff and told Plaintiff that inmates could not choose housing because housing was based on the needs of the facility. (Id.)

         On April 20, 2016, Plaintiff attempted to climb onto his upper bunk using his mobility-impaired-left-hand and his right hand. (Id.) While attempting to climb, Plaintiff retracted his left hand due to the pain and fell, struck his head, lost consciousness, and sustained injuries to his head, back, neck, wrist, and left shoulder. (Id.) Plaintiff's cell mate attempted to summon Hogan three times over the emergency light but Hogan had turned off the light in order to train cadets. (Id.)

         On April 21, 2016, Plaintiff suffered from a “terrifying asthma attack” and had activated his emergency call light. (Id.) Goins responded and found Plaintiff in distress. (Id.) Goins called the on-duty nurse at 1:05 a.m. (Id.) That nurse stated that she did not have an order for an inhaler for Plaintiff and would ask Williamson the next day. (Id.) Plaintiff panicked and fell unconscious from the inability to breath. (Id.)

         On April 22, 2016, Williamson met with Plaintiff. (Id.) At the meeting, Plaintiff tried to discuss all of his injuries and medical issues but Williamson told Plaintiff that he was only there to discuss the asthma issue. (Id.) Williamson told Plaintiff to submit a medical request. (Id.) Although Plaintiff submitted the request, Williamson did not treat Plaintiff's injuries. (Id.)

         Between April 20, 2016 and May 10, 2016, COCN, Naphcare, LVMPD, Coker, Hogan, Goins, Williamson, and C. Smith knew about the dangers associated with housing a seizure patient on a top bunk. (Id. at 11). Williamson told Plaintiff that “this is jail and that's the luck of the draw.” (Id.) On May 10, 2016, Plaintiff had a seizure on the top bunk. (Id.) On May 12, 2016, Plaintiff informed Naphcare Does that he was in “paralyzing pain and agony, ” that his valley fever had progressed due to a lack of medicine, that he had had a seizure two days before, and had suffered injuries. (Id.) Naphcare Does responded that Plaintiff had seen a physician on February 9, 2016, February 15, 2016, April 7, 2016, and April 22, 2016, that he had no history of the disease, and that he should fill out a form identifying the clinic or doctor who had diagnosed the condition. (Id.) On May 13, 2016, Plaintiff submitted another medical request and stated that he needed to see a doctor and get an MRI for new injuries to his back, head, and neck. (Id. at 11-12). Naphcare Does responded that “medications [had been] ordered for above medical issue, ” “continue current treatment, ” and “activity as tolerated.” (Id. at 12).

         On May 23, 2016, Plaintiff told Williamson that he had disabilities of “seizure disorder, left wrist condition, and neck and back.” (Id.) Williamson rejected these conditions as disabilities. (Id.) Plaintiff asked Williamson to reinstate his pre-jail pain management plan and medication as prescribed by Plaintiff's specialists. (Id.)

         Williamson told Plaintiff, “medically this is my jail what I say goes. The hell with your specialists' orders, they don't work here.” (Id.) In response to Plaintiff's seizure disorder and top bunk assignment, Williamson told Plaintiff that it was between Plaintiff ...

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