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Case 2:13-cv-02793-SVW-SS Document 13 Filed 09/20/13 Page 1 of 12 Page ID #:121

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

JASON ALTHEIDE,

Plaintiff,

v.

DR. ANGELINE DE GUZMAN, et al.,

Defendants.

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NO. CV 13-2793 SVW (SS)
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DISMISSING
COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

I.

INTRODUCTION

On June 6, 2013, Jason Altheide (“Plaintiff”), a mentally
disordered offender (“MDO”) proceeding pro se, filed a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (the “Complaint”). At the time
of the incidents alleged in the Complaint, Plaintiff was a parolee
detained at Atascadero State Hospital as an MDO pursuant to California
Penal Code section 2962 as a condition of his parole.1 (See Complaint

1 Penal Code section 2962 provides that a prisoner who meets
certain criteria “shall be required to be treated” as a condition of

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at 14).2 For the reasons stated below, the Complaint is dismissed with
leave to amend.3

II.

ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT

Plaintiff names as Defendants the following eight employees of
Atascadero State Hospital: (1) Dr. Angeline De Guzman, psychiatrist;
(2) Dr. William Knowlton, psychiatrist; (3) Dr. Marc Reiner,
psychiatrist; (4) Dr. David Fennel, chief forensic psychiatrist; (5)
Suzy Brady, psych-tech advocate; (6) Jeanne McLean, psych-tech
coordinator; (7) Thomas Cahill, chief medical director; and (8) Linda
Persons, executive director. (Complaint at 3-5). Plaintiff sues all
Defendants in their official capacities only. (See id.).

The Complaint alleges that on August 9, 2012, Dr. De Guzman ordered
that Plaintiff be given Haldol, a first-generation antipsychotic drug,
despite his refusal to take the medication.4 (Complaint at 6).

parole. Cal. Penal Code § 2962.

2 The Court will cite to the Complaint and its attachments as

though they formed a single, consecutively-paginated document.

3 Magistrate judges may dismiss a complaint with leave to amend
without approval of the district judge. See McKeever v. Block, 932 F.2d
795, 798 (9th Cir. 1991).

4 See United States v. Grigsby, 712 F.3d 964, 966 & n.1 (6th Cir.
2013) (noting that first-generation antipsychotic drugs such as Haldol
“can cause pseudoparkinsonism (stiffness, shuffling, tremors, slow
movements, stooped posture, difficulty walking),” among other side
effects, and that long-term usage may render these side effects
irreversible).

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Plaintiff further alleges that Dr. De Guzman “then ordered the same drug
to be involuntarily applied” until November 16, 2012. (Id.). However,
according to Plaintiff, the California Department of Mental Health
Wellness and Recovery Plan regarding Plaintiff, completed at Atascadero
State Hospital and finalized on August 3, 2012, indicates that Plaintiff
has “[a]llergies to Haldol and Thorazine (cause him to lock up).” (Id.
at 15). As a result of the involuntary administration of Haldol,
Plaintiff claims that he suffered severe side effects that were
diagnosed by a neurologist as “substance [i]nduced Parkinsonism.” (Id.
at 7).

Plaintiff’s first Medication Review Hearing was held on August 10,
2012. (Id. at 6). Plaintiff wanted to attend but did not because he
was in “Full Bed Restraints” in another room, as noted in the
Involuntary Psychotropic Medication Review Hearing Decision. (Id. at
6 & 11). Plaintiff alleges that his psych-tech advocate at the hearing,
Ms. Brady, improperly “proceeded with the hearing knowing that
[Plaintiff] wanted to be present,” and that Ms. McLean, the psych-tech
coordinator, “should have suspended proceedings until [Plaintiff] could
have been present . . . .” (Id. at 6). Even though “only one side of
the information” was presented at the hearing, Drs. Knowlton, Reiner and
Fennel determined that the criteria for involuntary medication had been
met and authorized administration of Haldol for two weeks, to August 24,
2012. (Id. at 6 & 11).

A follow up hearing was held on August 23, 2012, which Plaintiff
attended, this time represented by Ms. McLean. (Id. at 12). According
to the hearing decision signed by Drs. Knowlton, Reiner, and a third

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doctor not named in the Complaint, Plaintiff claimed that he did not
have a mental disorder and “appear[ed] to want to negotiate his own med
regimen.” (Id.). This new panel confirmed that the criteria for
involuntary medication had been met and authorized the continued
administration of Haldol to February 18, 2013. (Id.).

At some point, Plaintiff filed an administrative complaint
challenging the involuntary administration of Haldol. (Id. at 6).
Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Cahill, chief medical director, and
Ms. Person, executive director, “failed to take action” upon receipt of
Plaintiff’s complaint and that due to their “non-assistance,” Plaintiff
continued to be given Haldol. (Id.).

Plaintiff then sought assistance from the California Office of
Patients’ Rights, Department of State Hospitals, Atascadero. (Id. at
24). According to a Memorandum dated September 12, 2012 and directed
to Dr. Cahill, the Patients’ Rights Advocates assigned to Plaintiff’s
case expressed concern that Plaintiff’s “involuntary medication order
may not be legally supported” for several reasons. (Id. at 30). The
Advocates emphasized in particular that Plaintiff was not present at the
first hearing, despite his wish to participate, and was therefore
deprived of the opportunity “to present evidence, to question persons
presenting evidence, or to present his own witnesses.” (Id. at 27).
The Advocates further expressed concern that the second hearing focused
on different “elements” than the first, was not comprised of the same
panel, and was held on insufficient notice, in violation of Title 9 of
the California Code of Regulations section 4210. (Id. at 28).

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Plaintiff broadly claims that Defendants violated his Eighth
Amendment, Due Process, and Equal Protection rights. (Id. at 6).
Plaintiff states that he is “entitled to financial compensation for the
cruel and unusual punishment of state authorities” forcing him to take
drugs to which he was allergic and “for allowing such chaos to exist”
in the medication review process. (Id. at 7).

III.

DISCUSSION

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must dismiss
Plaintiff’s Complaint due to defects in pleading. Pro se litigants in
civil rights cases, however, must be given leave to amend their
complaints unless it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies cannot
be cured by amendment. Accordingly, the Court grants Plaintiff leave
to amend, as indicated below.

A.

Defendants Are Immune From Suit In Their Official Capacities

Section 1983 provides a cause of action against any “person” who,
under color of state law, deprives an individual of federal
constitutional rights or limited federal statutory rights. 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. However, the Supreme Court has held that a state and its
agencies are not “persons” under section 1983. See Will v. Michigan
Department of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 70, 109 S. Ct. 2304, 105 L. Ed.
2d 45 (1989). Because “‘a suit against a state official in his or her
official capacity . . . is no different from a suit against the State
itself,’” state employees sued in their official capacities “are not

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‘persons’ within the meaning of § 1983 and are therefore generally
entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity.” Flint v. Dennison, 488 F.3d
816, 824–25 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Will, 491 U.S. at 71); see also
Snow v. McDaniel, 681 F.3d 978, 991 (9th Cir. 2012) (“[F]ederal courts
are barred by the Eleventh Amendment from awarding damages against state
officials acting in their official capacities.”).

Plaintiff sues all Defendants in their official capacities only.
(Complaint at 3-5). However, these state employees are immune from
suits for damages in their official capacities. See Pena v. Gardner,
976 F.2d 469, 472 (9th Cir. 1992). As such, the Complaint is defective
and must be dismissed. If Plaintiff intends to proceed with this
action, he may sue individual state actors under section 1983 only in
their individual capacities.

B.

The Complaint Fails To Identify The Specific Defendants Who
Plaintiff Claims Violated His Due Process Rights

Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated his Fourteenth Amendment
rights to both substantive and procedural due process when they
medicated him against his will. As a civil detainee, Plaintiff’s right
to medical care is protected by the substantive component of the Due
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See Youngberg v. Romeo, 457
U.S. 307, 315, 102 S. Ct. 2452, 73 L. Ed. 2d 28 (1982). Under this
provision of the Constitution, Plaintiff is “‘entitled to more
considerate treatment and conditions of confinement than criminals whose
conditions of confinement are designed to punish’.” Jones v. Blanas,
393 F.3d 918, 931 (9th Cir. 2004) (quoting Youngberg, 457 U.S. at

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321–22). Thus, to avoid liability, Defendants’ decisions must be
supported by “professional judgment.” Youngberg, 457 U.S. at 321. A
defendant fails to use professional judgment when his or her decision
is “such a substantial departure from accepted professional judgment,
practice, or standards as to demonstrate that [he or she] did not base
[his or her] decision on such a judgment.” Id. at 323.

In determining whether a defendant has met his or her
constitutional obligations, decisions made by the appropriate
professional are entitled to a presumption of correctness. Id. at 324.
“[T]he Constitution only requires that the courts make certain that
professional judgment in fact was exercised. It is not appropriate for
the courts to specify which of several professionally acceptable choices
should have been made.” Id. at 321. Liability will be imposed only
when the medical decision “is such a substantial departure from accepted
professional judgment, practice, or standards as to demonstrate that the
person responsible actually did not base the decision on such a
judgment.” Id. at 323; Houghton v. South, 965 F.2d 1532, 1536 (9th Cir.
1992).

The Supreme Court has not specified what minimum procedural
safeguards are required in every situation, but has provided some
guidance. Simon v. Montgomery, 2008 WL 2551297 at *8 (C.D. Cal. Jun.
25, 2008). For instance, in the prison setting, due process is
satisfied when the decision to medicate an inmate against his will is
facilitated by an administrative review by medical personnel not
directly involved in the inmate’s instant treatment. Washington v.
Harper, 494 U.S. 210, 233, 110 S. Ct. 1028, 108 L. Ed. 2d 178 (1990)

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(involving prisoners rather than civil detainees). Due process also is
satisfied if the inmate is provided with notice, the right to be present
at an adversarial hearing, and the right to cross-examine witnesses.5
Id. at 235.

Plaintiff broadly claims that his due process rights were “denied
when the staff proceeded with a hearing without [him] being present.”
(Complaint at 6). It therefore appears that Plaintiff is challenging
only his first Medication Review Hearing, because he was present at his
second Medication Review Hearing. (See id. at 11-12). However,
Plaintiff does not identify the specific staff members he believes are
liable for this violation. The Involuntary Psychotropic Medical Review
Hearing Decision indicates that Drs. De Guzman, Knowlton, Reiner and
Fennel, Ms. Brady and Ms. McLean were involved to some degree in the
first Medication Review Hearing. (Id. at 11). To the extent that
Plaintiff wishes to contend that these or any other Defendant violated
his due process rights, he should identify each Defendant by name and
explain why each specific Defendant is liable. See Starr v. Baca, 652
F.3d 1202, 1207 (9th Cir. 2011) (liability under § 1983 requires a
showing either that the defendant was personally involved in the
constitutional deprivation or that a “sufficient causal connection”
exists between the defendant’s wrongful conduct and the constitutional
deprivation). Plaintiff must show how each Defendant’s actions
constituted a “substantial departure” from the exercise of professional

5 However, Harper arose in the prison context, whereas the current
case involves a civil detainee classified as an MDO. MDOs may have
fewer protections against involuntary medication as they have already
been adjudicated as mentally ill and possibly dangerous. See Simon,
2008 WL 2551297 at *8 n.5.

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judgment. Youngberg, 457 U.S. at 323. Consequently, the Complaint must
be dismissed, with leave to amend.

C.

Plaintiff Fails To State An Eighth Amendment Claim

Plaintiff broadly alleges that the administration of Haldol by
Defendants constituted “Cruel and Unusual Punishment.” (Complaint at
6). To the extent that Plaintiff is attempting to state a claim for
deliberate indifference to serious medical needs under the Eighth
Amendment, the Complaint fails to state a claim because as a civil
detainee, Plaintiff’s claims of inadequate medical care fall under the
more protective standards of the Fourteenth Amendment, not the Eighth
Amendment. Blanas, 393 F.3d at 931. Accordingly, the Complaint must
be dismissed, with leave to amend.

D.

Plaintiff Fails To State An Equal Protection Claim

To allege an equal protection claim, Plaintiff must assert that
defendants intentionally and without rational basis treated him
differently from others similarly situated and intentionally
discriminated against him. Pacifica LLC v. City of Pacifica, 526 F.3d
478, 486 (9th Cir. 2008) (stating elements of equal protection claim).

Plaintiff asserts that Defendants violated his equal protection
rights. (Complaint at 6). However, Plaintiff does not, and apparently
cannot, claim that Defendants acted with an intent to discriminate
against Plaintiff based on his membership in a protected class. Nor
does Plaintiff allege facts showing that specific Defendants

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intentionally treated him differently from other similarly situated
persons without any rational basis for the difference in treatment.
Accordingly, the Complaint fails to state an equal protection claim and
must be dismissed, with leave to amend. Plaintiff is cautioned that in
any Amended Complaint, he must correct any deficiencies or omit the
deficient claim.

E.

Plaintiff’s Complaint Violates Federal Rule Of Civil Procedure 8

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires that a complaint
contain “‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief,’ in order to ‘give the defendant fair
notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.’”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 167
L. Ed. 2d 929 (2007). Rule 8(e)(1) instructs that “[e]ach averment of
a pleading shall be simple, concise, and direct.” A complaint violates
Rule 8 if a defendant would have difficulty responding to the complaint.
Cafasso, U.S. ex rel. v. General Dynamics C4 Systems, Inc., 637 F.3d
1047, 1059 (9th Cir. 2011).

Plaintiff’s Complaint fails to satisfy the requirements of Rule 8
because it does not put each individual Defendant on notice of which
specific claim or claims Plaintiff contends the Defendant is liable for,
and why. It is unclear exactly who Plaintiff claims is liable for his
due process and equal protection claims, and why. It is also unclear
whether Plaintiff is attempting to assert any constitutional violations
in connection with his second Medication Review Hearing. Consequently,
the Complaint must be dismissed, with leave to amend.

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IV.

CONCLUSION

For the reasons stated above, the Complaint is dismissed with leave
to amend. If Plaintiff still wishes to pursue this action, he is
granted thirty (30) days from the date of this Memorandum and Order to
file a First Amended Complaint. In any amended complaint, the Plaintiff
shall cure the defects described above. The First Amended Complaint,
if any, shall be complete in itself, including any attached exhibits,
and shall bear both the designation “First Amended Complaint” and the
case number assigned to this action. It shall not refer in any manner
to the original Complaint.

In any amended complaint, Plaintiff should confine his allegations
to those operative facts supporting each of his claims. Plaintiff is
advised that pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), all that
is required is a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Plaintiff is strongly encouraged
to utilize the standard civil rights complaint form when filing any
amended complaint, a copy of which is attached. In any amended
complaint, the Plaintiff should make clear the nature and grounds for
each claim and specifically identify the Defendants he maintains are
liable for that claim. Furthermore, the First Amended Complaint may not
include new Defendants or claims not reasonably related to the
allegations in the Complaint. Each page of the First Amended Complaint,
including any attached exhibits, must be legible and consecutively
numbered.

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Plaintiff is explicitly cautioned that failure to timely file a
First Amended Complaint, or failure to correct the deficiencies
described above, will result in a recommendation that this action be
dismissed with prejudice for failure to prosecute and obey Court orders
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b). Plaintiff is further
advised that if he no longer wishes to pursue this action, he may
voluntarily dismiss it by filing a Notice of Dismissal in accordance
with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1). A form Notice of
Dismissal is attached for Plaintiff’s convenience.

DATED: September 20, 2013
/S/

_____________________________
SUZANNE H. SEGAL
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

THIS MEMORANDUM IS NOT INTENDED FOR PUBLICATION NOR IS IT INTENDED TO
BE INCLUDED IN OR SUBMITTED TO ANY ONLINE SERVICE SUCH AS WESTLAW OR
LEXIS.

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