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Gause v. Maricopa County Correctional Health Services

United States District Court, D. Arizona

May 5, 2014

Richard LeGrand Gause, Plaintiff,
Maricopa County Correctional Health Services, et al., Defendants.


STEPHEN M. McNAMEE, Senior District Judge.

On December 13, 2013, Plaintiff Richard LeGrand Gause, who is confined in the Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail, filed a pro se civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. In a February 4, 2014 Order, the Court granted the Application to Proceed and dismissed the Complaint because Plaintiff had failed to state a claim. The Court gave Plaintiff 30 days to file an amended complaint that cured the deficiencies identified in the Order.

On February 14, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Indigent Legal Representation (Doc. 7) and a First Amended Complaint (Doc. 8). On March 21, 2014, he filed a "Request for the Courts to Order Maricopa County Correctional Health to Release My Medical Records to Me" (Doc. 9). On April 25, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Document (Doc. 10) entitled "Verifying the Courts Received My Motions & Why No Response?"

I. Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or an employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if a plaintiff has raised claims that are legally frivolous or malicious, that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2).

A pleading must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) (emphasis added). While Rule 8 does not demand detailed factual allegations, "it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id.

"[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." 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. at 679. Thus, although a plaintiff's specific factual allegations may be consistent with a constitutional claim, a court must assess whether there are other "more likely explanations" for a defendant's conduct. Id. at 681.

But as the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has instructed, courts must "continue to construe pro se filings liberally." Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). A "complaint [filed by a pro se prisoner] must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Id. (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) ( per curiam )).

II. First Amended Complaint

In his one-count First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff sues the following Defendants at the Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail: Dr. Richard Friedman, Dr. Matt, Unknown Psychiatrist #1, and Unknown Psychiatrist #2. In his Request for Relief, Plaintiff seeks monetary damages, treatment for his injuries, and payment of his medical bills.

Plaintiff alleges violations of his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights regarding his medical care. He states that he was involved in a severe motorcycle accident in April 2013 and, as a result suffered multiple facial fractures, leg and knee fractures, and brain damage. Plaintiff claims he was placed in a full leg brace for 8-12 weeks, that he has approximately one year to treat his severe short-term memory loss, and that he was told to consult with a neuro-psychiatrist for treatment of his brain damage.

Plaintiff's allegations concern two time frames: July 1 to August 30, 2013, and November 11, 2013 to the present.

A. July 1 to August 30, 2013

Plaintiff states that on July 1, 2013, he was arrested and that jail intake personnel took his cane and his leg brace. Plaintiff contends that he was told he would receive a jail-approved brace and cane, but he did not receive them from July 1 to August 30, despite submitted numerous health needs request forms.

Plaintiff states that he saw Defendant Dr. Matt on July 14, that Defendant Dr. Matt had copies of his hospital records and saw that Plaintiff had been ordered to wear a brace and use crutches or a cane, but stated that he was "not going to do nothing himself" and would order Plaintiff to be seen by Plaintiff's orthopedist, which could take 6-8 months. Plaintiff alleges that his leg was still swollen, he could not walk on it, and could barely bend it. Plaintiff states that he was given an Ace bandage and that Defendant Dr. Matt told Plaintiff to try to stay off his leg. Plaintiff states that he did not see an orthopedist between July 1 and August 30 and alleges that he has severe knee damage because he was forced to move around on his leg without a brace and cane.

Plaintiff alleges that he immediately began submitting health needs request forms to see a psychiatrist to treat his memory loss, but did not see anyone until August 1, when he met with a psychiatric assistant who conducted his initial mental health evaluation, scheduled Plaintiff to see a psychiatrist, and told him that it would take no more than ten days to see the psychiatrist. Plaintiff states that when he was released on August 30, he had not seen a psychiatrist. He claims his memory loss is so severe that he often does not remember why he is confined and does not remember names and dates and things he does during the day. He claims these are things a neuro-psychiatrist would be able to help him with, but he never received any treatment and, therefore, his condition is worsening.

Plaintiff claims he went to court on August 30 and his attorney told the judge that Plaintiff was not receiving any treatment, Plaintiff was not having his basic medical needs met, and the doctors were showing deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's medical needs. Plaintiff claims the judge released him to pre-trial services because the medical staff at the Jail was not treating Plaintiff in an adequate time frame. Plaintiff ...

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