Jefferson v. Medley et al

Filing 12

SCREENING ORDER DISMISSING 5 First Amended Complaint and GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND; Thirty Day Deadline signed by Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe on 2/11/2014. (Attachments: # 1 Amended Complaint Form)(Sant Agata, S)

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1 2 3 4 5 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 6 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 7 8 9 ALTON JEFFERSON, 10 11 12 Plaintiff, v. MEDLEY, et al., 13 Defendants. 14 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) 1:13-cv-00035-LJO-BAM (PC) SCREENING ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT AND GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF No. 5) THIRTY-DAY DEADLINE 15 First Screening Order 16 17 I. Screening Requirement and Standard 18 Plaintiff Alton Jefferson (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma 19 pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff‟s first amended 20 complaint, filed on February 11, 2013, is currently before the Court for screening. 21 The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a 22 governmental entity and/or against an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 23 1915A(a). Plaintiff‟s complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or 24 malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary 25 relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2); 28 26 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). 27 A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the 28 pleader is entitled to relief. . . .” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not 1 1 required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere 2 conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 3 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 4 (2007)). While a plaintiff‟s allegations are taken as true, courts “are not required to indulge 5 unwarranted inferences.” Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) 6 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). 7 Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings 8 liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 9 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). To survive screening, Plaintiff‟s claims must be facially 10 plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each 11 named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 12 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. United States Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 13 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere 14 consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 15 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969. Plaintiff’s Allegations 16 II. 17 Plaintiff is currently housed at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, California. The events in 18 his complaint are alleged to have occurred at Pleasant Valley State Prison. Plaintiff names (1) 19 LVN A. Medley, (2) LVN M. Springer, (3) LVN Sely and (4) Dr. Jardini as defendants in their 20 individual and official capacities. 21 Plaintiff alleges as follows: Plaintiff has been diagnosed with severe peripheral poly 22 neuropathy, diabetes mellitus, hepatitis C, Cocci (valley fever) and other physical ailments. On 23 December 21, 2010, after suffering from night sweats, chills, fatigue, weight loss, joint pain and 24 chest pain, Plaintiff was taken to the medical clinic. It was determined that he suffered from 25 pneumonia while being diagnosed with tuberculosis and coccidioidomycosis (valley fever virus). 26 Following Plaintiff‟s diagnosis of valley fever, he was transported to Twin Cities Hospital where 27 he received treatment for fifteen days. Plaintiff was subsequently discharged to Pleasant Valley 28 State Prison. 2 1 Since becoming diabetic, Plaintiff has been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy. He 2 continues to experience numbness and swelling in his feet, ankles, legs and hand, along with 3 dizziness and impaired vision. In January of an unstated year, a neurologist determined that 4 Plaintiff suffered from severe neurological damage, causing a lack of mobility, severe numbness, 5 swelling and pain in his feet, ankles and legs. 6 On January 25, 2011, Plaintiff saw Dr. Jardini, his primary care physician, for complaints 7 of continued swelling in Plaintiff‟s legs and ankles, including a lack of mobility due to severe 8 neurological damage. After considering the reports and recommendations of the neurologist, Dr. 9 Jardini requested blood tests and a kidney assessment. Dr. Jardini ordered Plaintiff a wheelchair 10 for two months. 11 When Dr. Jardini called Plaintiff regarding his blood tests, Dr. Jardini informed Plaintiff 12 that the tests were no good, but never rescheduled him for the severity of his ailments. Plaintiff 13 also did not receive the physical therapy recommended by Dr. Jardini. 14 On February 18, 2011, Plaintiff was scheduled to see Dr. Jardini. It was raining and 15 Plaintiff requested that he wait in his wheelchair to see Dr. Jardini in the clinic‟s waiting/holding 16 room. Correctional Officer Dutra denied the request. After Dr. Jardini was informed of 17 Plaintiff‟s request, Dr. Jardini told Nurse Laiva and Correctional Officer Dutra that if Plaintiff 18 did not come see him, then he would take Plaintiff‟s wheelchair. 19 During Plaintiff‟s visit with Dr. Jardini, Dr. Jardini stated that staff was concerned about 20 the duration of Plaintiff having the wheelchair and Plaintiff would be transferred to another 21 facility to accommodate his medical issues. Plaintiff informed Dr. Jardini that he would be 22 willing to give up his wheelchair if he was provided with physical therapy. Dr. Jardini agreed. 23 24 25 At some point between February 18 and March 10, 2011, Plaintiff‟s wheelchair was taken away. Plaintiff was given a walker without therapy to gain his strength. On February 23, 2011, Plaintiff was denied his insulin shots by medical staff, including 26 other medication. When Plaintiff inquired, custody staff informed Plaintiff that medical refused 27 to bring it to Plaintiff because Plaintiff could walk on his own to receive his medication and 28 insulin shots. 3 1 From February 23 to February 27, 2011, Plaintiff was denied his insulin shots and other 2 medication. After Plaintiff complained, he was informed that medical would not bring him his 3 insulin shots and he would have to come on his own to receive them. 4 Plaintiff asserts that Defendants Springer, Sely and Medley were deliberately indifferent 5 to Plaintiff‟s serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment (1) for failing to 6 provide Plaintiff with physical therapy before taking his wheelchair and (2) for refusing to give 7 him insulin shots for five (5) days. 8 9 Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, along with compensatory and punitive damages. 10 III. 11 As discussed more fully below, Plaintiff‟s complaint fails to comply with Federal Rule of Deficiencies of Complaint 12 Civil Procedure 8 and fails to state a cognizable Eighth Amendment claim. Plaintiff will be 13 given leave to amend his complaint. To assist Plaintiff in amending his complaint, the Court 14 provides the following pleading and legal standards that apply to his claims. 15 A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 16 Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, a complaint must contain “a short and 17 plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). 18 Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause 19 of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 20 (citation omitted). Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to „state a 21 claim to relief that is plausible on its face.‟” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. 22 at 555). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id.; see also 23 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556–557; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969. 24 Plaintiff‟s complaint does not clearly set forth the factual allegations underlying his 25 claims. Plaintiff fails to describe specific actions taken by the different defendants in violation of 26 his constitutional rights. If Plaintiff elects to amend his complaint, he must set forth factual 27 allegations against each defendant sufficient to state a claim. 28 /// 4 1 B. Linkage Requirement 2 The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides: 3 5 Every person who, under color of [state law] ... subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States ... to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution ... shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress. 6 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The statute plainly requires that there be an actual connection or link between 7 the actions of the defendants and the deprivation alleged to have been suffered by Plaintiff. See 8 Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978); 9 Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 96 S.Ct. 598, 46 L.Ed.2d 561 (1976). The Ninth Circuit has held 10 that “[a] person „subjects‟ another to the deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning 11 of section 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in another‟s affirmative acts or omits 12 to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which 13 complaint is made.” Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). 4 In his complaint, Plaintiff fails to clearly link Defendants Springer, Sely and Medley to 14 15 the factual allegations underlying his Eighth Amendment cause of action. As a practical matter, 16 Plaintiff does not discuss or identify Defendants Springer, Sely and Medley in his statement of 17 facts. Further, with regard to Defendant Jardini, Plaintiff does not identify him in his Eighth 18 Amendment cause of action. If Plaintiff chooses to amend his complaint, he must link each 19 named defendant with some affirmative act or omission that demonstrates a violation of his 20 rights. 21 C. Official Capacity and Eleventh Amendment 22 Plaintiff may not bring suit for money damages against Defendants in their official 23 capacities. The Eleventh Amendment prohibits suits for monetary damages against a State, its 24 agencies, and state officials acting in their official capacities. Aholelei v. Dept. of Public Safety, 25 488 F.3d 1144, 1147 (9th Cir.2007). A suit against a state official in his official capacity equates 26 to a suit against the state employing that official, Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 25, 112 S.Ct. 358, 27 116 L.Ed.2d 301 (1991), effectively barring a plaintiff from bringing suit on these grounds. 28 However, the Eleventh Amendment does not bar a suit for monetary damages against a state 5 1 official sued in his individual capacity. Id. Accordingly, Plaintiff may not bring a claim for 2 damages against Defendants in their official capacities. 3 D. Declaratory Relief 4 In addition to damages, Plaintiff seeks a declaration that his rights were violated. “A 5 declaratory judgment, like other forms of equitable relief, should be granted only as a matter of 6 judicial discretion, exercised in the public interest.” Eccles v. Peoples Bank of Lakewood 7 Village, 333 U.S. 426, 431, 68 S.Ct. 641, 92 L.Ed. 784 (1948). “Declaratory relief should be 8 denied when it will neither serve a useful purpose in clarifying and settling the legal relations in 9 issue nor terminate the proceedings and afford relief from the uncertainty and controversy faced 10 by the parties.” United States v. Washington, 759 F.2d 1353, 1357 (9th Cir.1985). In the event 11 that this action reaches trial and the jury returns a verdict in favor of Plaintiff, the verdict will be 12 a finding that Plaintiff‟s constitutional rights were violated. Accordingly, a declaration that any 13 defendant violated Plaintiff‟s rights is unnecessary. 14 E. Injunctive Relief 15 Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief for the provision of his medication. However, Plaintiff is 16 no longer incarcerated at Pleasant Valley State Prison. A request for injunctive relief becomes 17 moot if a prisoner is transferred. Andrews v. Cervantes, 493 F.3d 1047, 1053 n. 5 (9th Cir. 2 18 007) (citing Johnson v. Moore, 948 F.2d 517, 510 (9th Cir.19 91) (per curiam)); Holt v. 19 Stockman, 2012 WL 259938, *6 (E.D. Cal. Jan.25, 2012) (a prisoner‟s claim for injunctive relief 20 is rendered moot when he is transferred from the institution whose employees he seeks to enjoin 21 from harming him). There is no indication that Plaintiff expects to be transferred back to 22 Pleasant Valley State Prison. Darring v. Kincheloe, 783 F.2d 874, 876 (9th Cir. 1996). 23 F. Eighth Amendment - Deliberate Indifference to Serious Medical Needs 24 “[T]o maintain an Eighth Amendment claim based on prison medical treatment, an 25 inmate must show “deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.‟” Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 26 1091, 1096 (9th Cir.2006) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104, 97 S.Ct. 285, 291, 50 27 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976)). The two part test for deliberate indifference requires the plaintiff to show 28 (1) “a „serious medical need‟ by demonstrating that failure to treat a prisoner‟s condition could 6 1 result in further significant injury or the „unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain,‟” and (2) 2 “the defendant‟s response to the need was deliberately indifferent.” Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096; 3 Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1122 (9th Cir.2012). 4 Deliberate indifference is shown where the official is aware of a serious medical need and 5 fails to adequately respond. Simmons v. Navajo County, Ariz., 609 F.3d 1011, 1018 (9th Cir. 6 2010). “Deliberate indifference is a high legal standard.” Id. at 1019; Toguchi v. Chung, 391 7 F.3d 1051, 1060 (9th Cir. 2004). The prison official must be aware of facts from which he could 8 make an inference that “a substantial risk of serious harm exists” and he must make the 9 inference. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994). 10 Defendant Jardini 11 Although Plaintiff names Dr. Jardini as a defendant, the basis of Plaintiff‟s claim against 12 Dr. Jardini is not clear. As alleged, Dr. Jardini examined Plaintiff on more than one occasion, 13 ordered tests, provided Plaintiff with a wheelchair and recommended physical therapy. Plaintiff 14 has failed to establish that Dr. Jardini was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff‟s medical needs. In 15 other words, Plaintiff has not alleged that Dr. Jardini failed to adequately respond to Plaintiff‟s 16 medical needs. Plaintiff will be given leave to cure this deficiency to the extent that he is able to 17 do so. 18 Defendants Sely, 19 Plaintiff first asserts that Defendants Springer, Sely and Medley were deliberately 20 indifferent to Plaintiff‟s serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment for failing 21 to provide Plaintiff with physical therapy before taking his wheelchair. However, Plaintiff fails 22 to allege any facts demonstrating the Defendants Springer, Sely and Medley were responsible for 23 providing physical therapy, knew of any recommendation for such therapy or otherwise link 24 them to the purported failure to receive therapy. 25 Plaintiff also asserts that Defendants Springer, Sely and Medley refused to give Plaintiff 26 insulin shots for five (5) days. As with his other claim against these Defendants, Plaintiff fails to 27 link them to the alleged failure. Put another way, Plaintiff fails to allege facts sufficient to 28 establish that Defendants Springer, Sely and Medley were responsible for providing Plaintiff 7 1 with insulin shots or were the medical personnel denying Plaintiff insulin shots. A review of 2 Plaintiff‟s exhibits indicates that Plaintiff refused his insulin and medications by not showing up 3 to receive them or by refusing to leave his cell. (ECF No. 5, pp. 23-30.) There is no indication 4 that Plaintiff could not leave his cell. Furthermore, when a prisoner alleges a delay in receiving 5 medical treatment, he must also allege that the delay led to further injury. McGuckin v. Smith, 6 974 F.2d 1050, 1060 (9th Cir.1992), overruled on other grounds, WMX Techs, Inc. v. Miller, 7 104 F.3d 1133, 1136 (9th Cir.1997); Shapley v. Nevada Bd. of State Prison Comm‟rs, 766 F.2d 8 404, 407 (9th Cir.1985). Plaintiff has not alleged that the five day delay in receiving his insulin 9 shots and medication resulted in further injury. 10 IV. 11 As stated above, Plaintiff‟s complaint fails to comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of 12 Civil Procedure and does not state a cognizable claim. The Court will provide Plaintiff with the 13 opportunity to file an amended complaint to cure the identified deficiencies. Lopez v. Smith, 203 14 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000). 15 Conclusion and Order Plaintiff‟s amended complaint should be brief, Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a), but it must state what 16 each named defendant did that led to the deprivation of Plaintiff‟s constitutional rights, Iqbal, 17 556 U.S. at 678-79, 129 S.Ct. at 1948-49. Although accepted as true, the “[f]actual allegations 18 must be [sufficient] to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. . . .” Twombly, 550 U.S. 19 at 555 (citations omitted). Additionally, Plaintiff may not change the nature of this suit by 20 adding new, unrelated claims in his amended complaint. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 21 (7th Cir. 2007) (no “buckshot” complaints). 22 Finally, Plaintiff is advised that an amended complaint supersedes the original complaint. 23 Lacey v. Maricopa Cnty., 693 F.3d 896, 927 (9th Cir. 2012) (en banc). Therefore, Plaintiff‟s 24 amended complaint must be “complete in itself without reference to the prior or superseded 25 pleading.” Local Rule 220. 26 Based on the foregoing, it is HEREBY ORDERED that: 27 1. The Clerk‟s Office shall send Plaintiff a complaint form; 28 8 1 2. Plaintiff‟s first amended complaint is dismissed for failure to comply with Federal 2 3 Rule of Civil Procedure 8 and failure to state a cognizable claim; 3. Within thirty (30) days from the date of service of this order, Plaintiff shall file a 4 5 second amended complaint; and 4. If Plaintiff fails to file a second amended complaint in compliance with this order, 6 this action will be dismissed for failure to obey a court order. 7 8 9 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: /s/ Barbara February 11, 2014 10 A. McAuliffe _ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 9

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