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Ploof v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

June 11, 2014

Jonathan Michael Ploof, Plaintiff,
v.
Charles L. Ryan, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

DAVID G. CAMPBELL, District Judge.

On May 7, 2013, Plaintiff filed a pro se civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the defendants violated his Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care. (Doc. 1.) This matter was referred to the Early Mediation Pilot Program. (Doc. 10.) The matter was not successfully resolved via mediation, and Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint on August 19, 2013. (Doc. 18.) In his two-count First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff sued the following Defendants "in their official capacities": Arizona Department of Corrections (ADOC) Director Charles L. Ryan, Facility Health Administrator and Contract Monitor Matthew A. Musson, Division Director and Health Services Program Evaluation Administrator Richard Pratt, and Medical Director Dr. Winfred Darryl Williams. (Id.) In both counts, Plaintiff alleges violations of his Eighth Amendment rights regarding medical care. (Id.) In his Request for Relief, he sought declaratory and injunctive relief, monetary damages, and his costs of suit and litigation expenses. (Id.)

The Court screened the First Amended Complaint, dismissing Medical Director Dr. Winfred Darryl Williams and Plaintiff's request for monetary damages because the Defendants were sued in their official capacities. (Doc. 27.) The Court also found that Plaintiff's allegations in Count One were insufficient to state an official capacity claim for prospective injunctive relief. (Id.) The Court did note that an allegation that individuals failed to provide adequate healthcare to Plaintiff could possibly state an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against individuals in their personal capacity, but fell short of stating an official capacity claim. (Id.) The Court found that Plaintiff stated a claim in Count Two regarding a policy or practice of failing to provide timely access to healthcare and administrative oversight. (Id.)

Thereafter, prior to Defendants' appearance, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint with the proposed Second Amended Complaint attached. (Doc. 29.) Plaintiff sought to name Defendants in their official and individual capacities. (Id.) Apparently unaware of Plaintiff's Motion, Defendants filed their Answer to Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint. (Doc. 37.) On April 4, 2014, the Court granted Plaintiff's unopposed Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint. (Doc. 44.) Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint on May 6, 2014 (Doc. 57), and a corrected Second Amended Complaint on May 13, 2014 (Doc. 61).[1]

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. See 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. See 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. See 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. Second Amended Complaint

In his two-count Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff sues the following Defendants "in their official and or personal capacities": Arizona Department of Corrections (ADOC) Director Charles L. Ryan, Facility Health Administrator and Contract Monitor Matthew A. Musson, and Division Director and Health Services Program Evaluation Administrator Richard Pratt. In both counts, Plaintiff alleges violations of his Eighth Amendment rights regarding medical care. In his Request for Relief, Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, monetary damages, and his costs of suit and litigation expenses.

In Count One, Plaintiff asserts that Defendants Ryan, Musson, and Pratt have a policy and practice of failing to provide him with adequate healthcare and are deliberately indifferent to the fact that the failure to do so has resulted in significant injury to his heart. Plaintiff contends that Defendants, through written policies and personal letters, promised Plaintiff that they would provide sufficient resources to provide "the community standard of healthcare, " but that they are aware that they fall far below this standard. Plaintiff states that Defendants failed to create policy guidelines to assist clinicians in improving his healthcare and status over time. He states the current policies lack guidance allowing a healthcare provider the ability to "obtain, request, provide or arrange for the provision of timely treatment.'" He asserts that the Defendants are responsible for oversight and supervision, but due to the current policy and practice have deliberately failed to provide proper supervision which "has caused extensive damage and has shortened his life."

In Count Two, Plaintiff claims that Defendants Ryan, Musson, and Pratt have a policy and practice of "failing to provide administrative oversight, " which deprives him of proper and adequate medical care, and are "deliberately indifferent to the fact that the failure to do so has resulted in significant injury to [Plaintiff]." Plaintiff asserts that Defendants' "failure to direct by policy and oversight proper medical care" has caused him to experience prolonged and unnecessary pain and suffering. Plaintiff states that unit health care providers, by policy, are required to submit a referral for "off unit" care to a review board/committee. He contends that "the referral is not for medical reasons, " it takes months for the referrals to specialists to be processed, many referrals are denied, and unit medical personnel must then either resubmit the referral or do nothing.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Ryan, Musson, and Pratt endorse a policy and practice of failing to provide timely access to health care, are deliberately indifferent to the risk of harm to Plaintiff from the failure, have failed to provide "clear processes that are adhered to, " and have allowed a "failed system with clear unreasonable delays and refusals to cause current and future heart failure." Plaintiff contends that Defendants have failed to create an effective tracking and scheduling system for healthcare appointments, there are lengthy delays in responding to health needs request forms and providing necessary care, and there are no protocols or timeframes for when he is supposed to receive a face-to-face evaluation or a medical appointment. He claims Defendants have been warned repeatedly about the unreasonable delays, which ...


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