George v. Chapa

Filing 10

ORDER, ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND signed by Magistrate Judge Gary S. Austin on 2/27/2014. Amended Complaint due by 4/1/2014. (Attachments: # 1 Complaint Form)(Lundstrom, T)

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1 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 2 3 4 5 6 7 RICHARD EARL GEORGE, Plaintiff, 8 9 10 Case No. 1:12 cv 01788 GSA PC ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND GRANTING PLAINTIFF LEAVE TO FILE AN AMENDED COMPLAINT vs. E. CHAPA, Defendant 11 AMENDED COMPLAINT DUE IN THIRTY DAYS 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 I. Screening Requirement Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).1 The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a 19 governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). 20 The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are 21 legally “frivolous or malicious,” that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or 22 that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. 23 § 1915A(b)(1),(2). “Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been 24 paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or 25 26 27 1 28 Plaintiff filed a consent to proceed before a magistrate judge on November 21, 2012. 1 1 2 appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). 3 “Rule 8(a)’s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited 4 exceptions,” none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 5 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Pursuant to Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain “a 6 short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . .” Fed. R. 7 Civ. P. 8(a). “Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff’s 8 claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. However, “the 9 liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff’s factual allegations.” Neitze v. Williams, 10 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). “[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not 11 supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled.” Bruns v. Nat’l Credit Union 12 Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 13 (9th Cir. 1982)). 14 II. Plaintiff’s Claims 15 Plaintiff, an inmate in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and 16 Rehabilitation (CDCR) at the RJ Donovan Correctional Facility, brings this action against 17 Defendant Correctional Officer C. Chapa, an employee of the CDCR at North Kern State Prison 18 in Delano, where the events at issue occurred. 19 Plaintiff’s statement of claim consists of a rambling narrative, asserting generalized 20 allegations of staff misconduct. The only specific conduct charged to Defendant is that he 21 denied Plaintiff a shower on March 28, 2012, because Plaintiff was hearing impaired. 22 A. 23 To constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, prison Eighth Amendment 24 conditions must involve “the wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain . . .” Rhodes v. 25 Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981). Although prison conditions may be restrictive and harsh, 26 prison officials must provide prisoners with food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, medical care, and 27 personal safety. Id.; Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1107 (9th Cir. 1986); Hoptowit v. 28 2 1 2 Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1246 (9th Cir. 1982). Where a prisoner alleges injuries stemming from unsafe conditions of confinement, prison officials may be held liable only if they acted with 3 “deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of serious harm.” Frost v. Agnos, 152 F.3d 1124, 4 1128 (9th Cir. 1998). 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 The deliberate indifference standard involves an objective and a subjective prong. First, the alleged deprivation must be, in objective terms, “sufficiently serious . . . .” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994)(citing Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991)). Second, the prison official must “know of and disregard an excessive risk to inmate health or safety . . . .Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. Thus, a prison official may be held liable under the Eighth Amendment for denying humane conditions of confinement only if he knows that inmates face a substantial risk of harm and disregards that risk by failing to take reasonable measures to abate it. 12 Id. at 837-45. Prison officials may avoid liability by presenting evidence that they lacked 13 knowledge of the risk, or by presenting evidence of a reasonable, albeit unsuccessful, response to 14 the risk. Id. at 844-45. Mere negligence on the part of prison official is not sufficient to establish 15 liability, but rather, the official’s conduct must have been wanton. Id. at 835; Frost, 152 F.3d at 16 1128. 17 Here, the Court finds Plaintiff’s allegations to be vague. Plaintiff sets forth generalized 18 allegations regarding the conditions of his confinement. The only specific allegation regarding 19 Defendant’s conduct is that, on one occasion, he denied Plaintiff a shower. Such an allegation 20 falls far short of deliberate indifference. To state a claim under section 1983, a plaintiff must 21 allege that (1) the defendant acted under color of state law and (2) the defendant deprived him of 22 rights secured by the Constitution or federal law. Long v. County of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 23 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006). “A person deprives another of a constitutional right, where that 24 person ‘does an affirmative act, participates in another’s affirmative acts, or omits to perform an 25 act which [that person] is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is 26 made.’” Hydrick v. Hunter, 500 F.3d 978, 988 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Johnson v. Duffy, 588 27 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978)). “[T]he ‘requisite causal connection can be established not only 28 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 by some kind of direct, personal participation in the deprivation, but also by setting in motion a series of acts by others which the actor knows or reasonably should know would cause others to inflict the constitutional injury.’” Id. (quoting Johnson at 743-44). Plaintiff must allege facts indicating that Defendant was aware of a specific harm to Plaintiff, and acted with deliberate indifference to that harm. Plaintiff has failed to do so here. The complaint should therefore be dismissed. Plaintiff will, however, be granted leave to file an amended complaint. 7 8 9 10 11 Plaintiff need not, however, set forth legal arguments in support of his claims. In order to hold an individual defendant liable, Plaintiff must name the individual defendant, describe where that defendant is employed and in what capacity, and explain how that defendant acted under color of state law. Plaintiff should state clearly, in his or her own words, what happened. Plaintiff must describe what each defendant, by name, did to violate the particular right described 12 by Plaintiff. Plaintiff has failed to do so here. 13 III. 14 Conclusion and Order The Court has screened Plaintiff’s complaint and finds that it does not state any claims 15 Upon which relief may be granted under section 1983. The Court will provide Plaintiff with the 16 opportunity to file an amended complaint curing the deficiencies identified by the Court in this 17 order. Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448-49 (9th Cir. 1987). Plaintiff is cautioned that he 18 may not change the nature of this suit by adding new, unrelated claims in his amended 19 complaint. George, 507 F.3d at 607 (no “buckshot” complaints). 20 Plaintiff’s amended complaint should be brief, Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a), but must state what 21 each named defendant did that led to the deprivation of Plaintiff’s constitutional or other federal 22 rights, Hydrick, 500 F.3d at 987-88. Although accepted as true, the “[f]actual allegations must 23 be [sufficient] to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . .” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. 24 Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 554 (2007) (citations omitted). 25 Finally, Plaintiff is advised that an amended complaint supercedes the original complaint, 26 Forsyth v. Humana, Inc., 114 F.3d 1467, 1474 (9th Cir. 1997); King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 27 567 (9th Cir. 1987), and must be “complete in itself without reference to the prior or superceded 28 4 1 2 3 4 pleading,” Local Rule 15-220. Plaintiff is warned that “[a]ll causes of action alleged in an original complaint which are not alleged in an amended complaint are waived.” King, 814 F.2d at 567 (citing to London v. Coopers & Lybrand, 644 F.2d 811, 814 (9th Cir. 1981)); accord Forsyth, 114 F.3d at 1474. 5 Accordingly, based on the foregoing, it is HEREBY ORDERED that: 6 1. 7 Plaintiff’s complaint is dismissed, with leave to amend, for failure to state a claim; 8 2. 3. 9 The Clerk’s Office shall send to Plaintiff a complaint form; Within thirty (30) days from the date of service of this order, Plaintiff shall file 10 an amended complaint; 11 4. Plaintiff may not add any new, unrelated claims to this action via his amended 12 complaint and any attempt to do so will result in an order striking the amended 13 complaint; and 14 5. 15 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. 16 17 18 19 20 21 IT IS SO ORDERED. 22 23 24 Dated: February 27, 2014 /s/ Gary S. Austin UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE DEAC_Signature-END: 25 6i0kij8d 26 27 28 5

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