White v. Walker et al

Filing 9

ORDER DISMISSING Complaint and GRANTING Plaintiff Leave to File an Amended Complaint, signed by Magistrate Judge Gary S. Austin on 3/17/15: Amended Complaint Due in Thirty Days. (Attachments: # 1 Amended Complaint - blank form)(Hellings, J)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 Plaintiff, 13 14 1:12-cv-00454 LJO GSA PC DONNY WHITE, ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND GRANTING PLAINTIFF LEAVE TO FILE AN AMENDED COMPLAINT vs. J. WALKER, et al., 15 Defendants. 16 AMENDED COMPLAINT DUE IN THIRTY DAYS 17 18 19 I. Screening Requirement 20 Plaintiff is a former state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil 21 rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The matter was referred to a United States 22 Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302. 23 The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a 24 governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). 25 The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are 26 legally “frivolous or malicious,” that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or 27 that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 28 1915A(b)(1),(2). “Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been 1 1 paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or 2 appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” 3 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). 28 U.S.C. § 4 “Rule 8(a)‟s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited 5 exceptions,” none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 6 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Pursuant to Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain “a 7 short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . .” Fed. 8 R.Civ. P. 8(a). “Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the 9 plaintiff‟s claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. 10 However, “the liberal pleading standard . . . . applies only to a plaintiff‟s factual allegations.” 11 Nietze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n. 9 (1989). “[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights 12 complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled.” Bruns v. 13 Nat‟l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997)(quoting Ivey v.Bd. of Regents, 14 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)). 15 II. 16 Plaintiff’s Claims Plaintiff, formerly an inmate in the custody of the California Department of Corrections 17 and Rehabilitation (CDCR) at the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility at Corcoran (SATF), 18 brings this civil rights action against correctional officials employed by the CDCR at SATF. 19 Plaintiff claims that he was subjected to inadequate medical care such that it constituted cruel 20 and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff names the following 21 individuals defendants: J. Walker, Chief of California Health Care Services; Registered Nurse 22 (RN) S. Turner; Morris; Miller; Villasenor; Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) Ervin; LVN 23 Howard; Dr. Raman, M.D.; Dr. Rahimi, M.D.; Health Care Manager Martinez. 24 Plaintiff suffers from diabetes and was being treated with Metformin, which Plaintiff 25 was allowed to keep on his person. During the week of July 13, 2008, Facility D, where 26 Plaintiff was housed, was placed on lockdown restricting the movement of inmates, with the 27 exception of emergencies and inmates assigned to work duties. 28 2 1 Plaintiff ran out of Metformin, and, as he was unable to go to the medical clinic because 2 of the lockdown, he sought help from medical staff inside the housing unit. Each time medical 3 staff visited Plaintiff‟s housing unit to administer medication, Plaintiff told them that he was 4 out of medication, and “that he had not been able to obtain diabetes medication for X number 5 of days and he was experiencing adverse symptoms as a result.” Plaintiff requested that 6 Defendants Turner, Morris, Villasenor and Miller to “take steps to obtain a new order, refill or 7 bridge plaintiff‟s supply of diabetes medication right away.” Plaintiff alleges that 8 “Defendants” instructed him to submit a Health Care Services Request and told Plaintiff that he 9 would have to wait until the lockdown was over before he could see a doctor. 10 Between July 8 and July 17, 2008, Plaintiff submitted “several” requests for health care, 11 explaining that his diabetes medications were either running very low or had run out. Plaintiff 12 requested that medical staff renew his supply. Plaintiff alleges that “for several days,” he did 13 not receive any medication to treat his diabetes. On July 18, 2008, Plaintiff‟s “adverse diabetic 14 symptoms” were such that he was taken to the medical clinic. Plaintiff was eventually 15 hospitalized due to his diabetic condition. 16 After his hospitalization, Plaintiff began to receive regular insulin treatments to control 17 his blood sugar levels. This treatment was at Plaintiff‟s request. Plaintiff requested this 18 treatment instead of a Metformin prescription to ensure he would receive his medication during 19 lockdowns. 20 On May 9, 2009, Dr. Raman discontinued Plaintiff‟s insulin treatments. Dr. Raman 21 also doubled Plaintiff‟s prescription for Hydrochlorothiazide, which can increase blood sugar 22 levels. Dr. Raman decreased Plaintiff‟s finger stick blood tests from daily to weekly, “and 23 without insulin coverage so that medical staff would then be unable to closely monitor 24 Plaintiff‟s diabetes after Raman‟s order.” Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Raman “did not provide any 25 medical treatment to substitute for the insulin he had discontinued.” 26 27 The balance of Plaintiff‟s complaint includes a recitation of various medical issues and grievances that Plaintiff has suffered throughout his incarceration, including hypertension, 28 3 1 fractured hips, torn tendons, asthma, diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome. Plaintiff‟s allegations 2 relate to chronic severe pain. 3 A. 4 Under the Eighth Amendment, the government has an obligation to provide medical Eighth Amendment 5 care to those who are incarcerated. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1131 (9th Cir. 2000). 6 “In order to violate the Eighth Amendment proscription against cruel and unusual punishment, 7 there must be a „deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners.‟” Id. (quoting 8 Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97. 104 (1976)). Lopez takes a two-prong approach to evaluating 9 whether medical care, or lack thereof, rises to the level of “deliberate indifference.” First, a 10 court must examine whether the plaintiff‟s medical needs were serious. See Id. Second, a 11 court must determine whether “officials intentionally interfered with [the plaintiff‟s] medical 12 treatment.” Id. at 1132. 13 Plaintiff is advised that he cannot prevail in a section 1983 action where only the quality 14 of treatment is subject to dispute. Sanchez v. Vild, 891 F.2d 240 (9th Cir. 1989). Mere 15 difference of opinion between a prisoner and prison medical staff as to appropriate medical care 16 does not give rise to a section 1983 claim. Hatton v. Arpaio, 217 F.3d 845 (9th Cir. 2000); 17 Franklin v. Oregon, 662 F.2d 1337, 1344 (9th Cir. 1981). 18 Plaintiff has not alleged facts suggesting deliberate indifference. Although Plaintiff has 19 alleged facts indicating that he has a serious medical condition – diabetes – he has not 20 specifically charged each individual Defendant with conduct indicating that they were 21 deliberately indifferent to his condition. Plaintiff‟s central grievance seems to be that, due to 22 the lockdown, he was not allowed to possess a supply of his medication. Because Defendants 23 had to come to his cell to give him his medication daily, Plaintiff claims that he was denied 24 adequate medical care. Plaintiff has not alleged any facts suggesting that Defendants 25 deliberately and intentionally deprived him of his medication. Although Plaintiff alleges that 26 on some days he did not get his medication, he does not specifically identify any individual 27 Defendant, or allege conduct as to any individual Defendant that evidences an intent to deny 28 Plaintiff his medication. 4 1 2 Plaintiff must allege facts indicating that each defendant was aware of a specific harm 3 to Plaintiff, and acted with deliberate indifference to that harm. Plaintiff has failed to do so 4 here. Further, as noted, Plaintiff cannot state a claim where only the quality of treatment is 5 subject to dispute. That Dr. Raman chose to discontinue insulin treatments and increase the 6 dosage of a medication does not alone subject him to liability under the Eighth Amendment. 7 Plaintiff has not alleged any facts indicating that the treatment itself was found by competent 8 medical officials to cause Plaintiff injury. The Court finds Plaintiff‟s allegations to be vague 9 and conclusory. 10 The complaint must therefore be dismissed. Plaintiff will, however, be granted leave to file an amended complaint. 11 Plaintiff need not, however, set forth legal arguments in support of his claims. In order 12 to hold an individual defendant liable, Plaintiff must name the individual defendant, describe 13 where that defendant is employed and in what capacity, and explain how that defendant acted 14 under color of state law. Plaintiff should state clearly, in his own words, what happened. 15 Plaintiff must describe what each defendant, by name, did to violate the particular right 16 described by Plaintiff. 17 B. 18 “A party asserting a claim to relief as an original claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or Rule 18 19 third-party claim, may join, either as independent or alternate claims, as many claims, legal, 20 equitable or maritime, as the party has against an opposing party.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 18(a). Thus, 21 multiple claims against a single party are permissible, but Claim A against Defendant 1 should 22 not be joined with unrelated Claim B against Defendant 2. Unrelated claims against different 23 defendants belong in different suits, not only to prevent the sort of morass (a multiple claim, 24 multiple defendant) suit produces, but also to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees. 25 The Prison Litigation Reform Act limits to 3 the number of frivolous suits or appeals that any 26 prisoner may file without the prepayment of the required fees. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). George v. 27 Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). 28 health care while in prison and his chronic pain are unrelated to the specific allegations of his Plaintiff‟s allegations regarding the history of his 5 1 treatment for diabetes. Should Plaintiff desire to proceed on these claims, he should do so by 2 way of another civil action. Plaintiff must confine his claims in any single civil action to 3 related claims. 4 III. Conclusion 5 The Court has screened Plaintiff‟s complaint and finds that it does not state any claims 6 upon which relief may be granted under section 1983. The Court will provide Plaintiff with the 7 opportunity to file an amended complaint curing the deficiencies identified by the Court in this 8 order. Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448-49 (9th Cir. 1987). Plaintiff is cautioned that he 9 may not change the nature of this suit by adding new, unrelated claims in his amended 10 complaint. 11 Plaintiff‟s amended complaint should be brief, Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a), but must state what 12 each named defendant did that led to the deprivation of Plaintiff‟s constitutional or other 13 federal rights, Hydrick, 500 F.3d at 987-88. 14 allegations must be [sufficient] to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . .” Bell 15 Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 554 (2007)(citations omitted). Although accepted as true, the “[f]actual 16 Finally, Plaintiff is advised that an amended complaint supersedes the original 17 complaint, Forsyth v. Humana, Inc., 114 F.3d 1467, 1474 (9th Cir. 1997); King v. Atiyeh, 814 18 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987), and must be “complete and in and of itself without reference to 19 the prior or superseded pleading.” Local Rule 15-220. Plaintiff is warned that “[a]ll causes of 20 action alleged in an original complaint which are not alleged in an amended complaint are 21 waived.” King, 814 F.2d at 567 (citing to London v. Coopers & Lybrand, 644 F.2d 811, 814 22 (9th Cir. 1981)). 23 Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: 24 1. Plaintiff‟s complaint is dismissed, with leave to amend, for failure to state a 26 2. The Clerk‟s Office shall send to Plaintiff a complaint form; 27 3. Within thirty days from the date of service of this order, Plaintiff shall file an 25 28 claim; amended complaint; 6 1 2 3 4 4. Plaintiff may not add any new, unrelated claims to this action via his amended complaint and any attempt to do so will result in an order striking the amended complaint; and 5. If Plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint, the Court will recommend that this action be dismissed, with prejudice, for failure to state a claim. 5 6 7 8 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: March 17, 2015 /s/ Gary S. Austin UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 7

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