Johnson v. Unnamed Defendants

Filing 27

ORDER Dismissing Complaint with Leave to Amend, signed by Magistrate Judge Michael J. Seng on 10/7/16. 30-Day Deadline. (Attachments: # 1 Amended Complaint Form)(Verduzco, M)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 11 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 12 13 14 Plaintiff, 15 16 1:16-cv-00708-DAD-MJS (PC) HERBERT JOHNSON, ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND v. (ECF NO. 23.) UNNAMED DEFENDANTS, 17 Defendants. THIRTY-DAY DEADLINE 18 19 Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se in a civil rights action pursuant to 42 20 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned. (ECF No. 21 6.) Plaintiff’s complaint is before the Court for screening.1 22 23 24 25 1 26 27 28 Plaintiff initiated this action on March 9, 2016, in the Southern District of California, and this case was transferred to the Eastern District of California on May 20, 2016. Before the court had an opportunity to screen his complaint, Plaintiff moved to amend it. (ECF No. 21.) That motion was denied on July 22, 2016, because Plaintiff had the right to amend once as a matter of course pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15. Over two and one half months later, Plaintiff still has not filed an amended pleading. Accordingly, the undersigned screens his original complaint in this order. 1 1 I. Screening Requirement 2 The in forma pauperis statute provides, “Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any 3 portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if 4 the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which 5 relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). 6 II. Pleading Standard 7 Section 1983 “provides a cause of action for the deprivation of any rights, 8 privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” 9 Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). 10 Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for 11 vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 12 (1989). 13 To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: 14 (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated and 15 (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state 16 law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Ketchum v. Alameda Cnty., 811 F.2d 17 1243, 1245 (9th Cir. 1987). 18 A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that 19 the pleader is entitled to relief . . . .” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations 20 are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, 21 supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 22 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). 23 Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief 24 that is plausible on its face.” Id. Facial plausibility demands more than the mere 25 possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are 26 accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 677-78. 27 28 2 1 III. Plaintiff’s Allegations 2 Plaintiff, who at all relevant times was an inmate housed at North Kern State 3 Prison (“NKSP”) in Delano, California, brings this action without identifying any 4 Defendants. 5 Plaintiff’s claims can be summarized as follows: 6 Plaintiff is being denied adequate medical care at NKSP. Though it is not entirely 7 clear, he may also have been denied food and suffered a 40-pound weight loss. Plaintiff does not specify the type of relief he seeks. 8 9 IV. Analysis 10 A. Linkage 11 Plaintiff has failed to identify any individuals in connection with the violation of his 12 constitutional rights. Under § 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each named 13 defendant personally participated in the deprivation of hers rights. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 14 676-77 (2009); Simmons v. Navajo Cnty., Ariz., 609 F.3d 1011, 1020-21 (9th Cir. 2010); 15 Ewing v. City of Stockton, 588 F.3d 1218, 1235 (9th Cir. 2009); Jones v. Williams, 297 16 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). If Plaintiff chooses to file an amended complaint, he must 17 specifically name one or more Defendants who are claimed to have violated his rights, 18 and he must also allege specific facts identifying the role of each Defendant in the 19 violation of his rights. 20 Since the complaint does not name any Defendant, it must be dismissed. 21 However, leave to amend will be granted. Should Plaintiff choose to amend, the Court 22 sets forth below the applicable legal standards for the claims Plaintiff appears to assert 23 in his complaint. 24 B. 25 If Plaintiff chooses to amend, he should also clarify whether he is bringing suit 26 against the Defendant(s) in his or her official capacities. Plaintiff is forewarned that any 27 claim for damages against any Defendant in his or her official capacity is barred. “The 28 Eleventh Amendment bars suits for money damages in federal court against a state, its Eleventh Amendment Immunity 3 1 agencies, and state officials in their official capacities.” Aholelei v. Dept. of Public Safety, 2 488 F.3d 1144, 1147 (9th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted). However, the Eleventh 3 Amendment does not bar suits seeking damages against state officials in their personal 4 capacities, Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 30 (1991); Porter v. Jones, 319 F.3d 483, 491 5 (9th Cir. 2003), or suits for declaratory or injunctive relief brought against state officials in 6 their official capacities, Austin v. State Indus. Ins. System, 939 F.2d 676, 680 fn.2 (9th 7 Cir. 1991). 8 C. Eighth Amendment 9 The treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which the 10 prisoner is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits 11 cruel and unusual punishment. See Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993); Farmer 12 v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). The Eighth Amendment “...embodies broad and 13 idealistic concepts of dignity, civilized standards, humanity, and decency.” Estelle v. 14 Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102 (1976). Conditions of confinement may, however, be harsh 15 and restrictive. See Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981). Nonetheless, prison 16 officials must provide prisoners with “food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, medical care, and 17 personal safety.” Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1107 (9th Cir. 1986). 18 A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only when two requirements are 19 met: (1) objectively, the official's act or omission must be so serious such that it results in 20 the denial of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities; and (2) subjectively, the 21 prison official must have acted unnecessarily and wantonly for the purpose of inflicting 22 harm. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. Thus, to violate the Eighth Amendment, a prison 23 official must have a “sufficiently culpable mind.” See id. 24 1. Medical Indifference 25 Deliberate indifference to a prisoner's serious illness or injury, or risks of serious 26 injury or illness, gives rise to a claim under the Eighth Amendment. See Estelle, 429 U.S. 27 at 105; see also Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. This applies to physical as well as dental and 28 mental health needs. See Hoptowit v. Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1253 (9th Cir. 1982). An 4 1 injury or illness is sufficiently serious if the failure to treat a prisoner's condition could 2 result in further significant injury or the “...unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.” 3 McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1992); see also Doty v. County of 4 Lassen, 37 F.3d 540, 546 (9th Cir. 1994). Factors indicating seriousness are: (1) 5 whether a reasonable doctor would think that the condition is worthy of comment; (2) 6 whether the condition significantly impacts the prisoner's daily activities; and (3) whether 7 the condition is chronic and accompanied by substantial pain. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 8 F.3d 1122, 1131-32 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). 9 The requirement of deliberate indifference is less stringent in medical needs 10 cases than in other Eighth Amendment contexts because the responsibility to provide 11 inmates with medical care does not generally conflict with competing penological 12 concerns. See McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1060. Thus, deference need not be given to the 13 judgment of prison officials as to decisions concerning medical needs. See Hunt v. 14 Dental Dep't, 865 F.2d 198, 200 (9th Cir. 1989). The complete denial of medical 15 attention may constitute deliberate indifference. See Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 16 1080, 1111 (9th Cir. 1986). 17 Delay in providing medical treatment, or interference with medical treatment, may 18 also constitute deliberate indifference. See Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1131. Where delay is 19 alleged, however, the prisoner must also demonstrate that the delay led to further injury. 20 See McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1060. 21 2. Denial of Food 22 The intentional denial of food resulting in a significant loss of weight and illness 23 over the course of months states a sufficiently serious deprivation. See Keenan v. Hall, 24 83 F.3d 1083, 1091 (9th Cir. 1996) (“Adequate food is a basic human need protected by 25 the Eighth Amendment.”); see also Foster v. Runnels, 554 F.3d 807, 812 (9th Cir. 2009) 26 (finding sufficiently serious deprivation where inmate was denied 16 meals in 23 days); 27 Simmons v. Cook, 154 F.3d 805, 807-09 (8th Cir. 1998) (affirming Eighth Amendment 28 violation where inmates were deprived of four consecutive meals); Robles v. Coughlin, 5 1 725 F.2d 12, 16 (2d Cir. 1983) (finding that allegations of deprivation of meals and 2 contaminated food were sufficient to withstand dismissal of inmate's Eighth Amendment 3 claim). 4 V. Conclusion 5 Based on the foregoing, the Court finds that Plaintiff fails to state a claim. Plaintiff 6 will, however, be granted leave to amend. If Plaintiff files a first amended complaint, it 7 must identify specific Defendants and must also state what each named Defendant did 8 that led to the deprivation of his constitutional rights. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676-77. Plaintiff 9 should carefully read this Screening Order and focus his efforts on curing the 10 deficiencies set forth above. 11 Plaintiff is advised that Local Rule 220 requires that an amended complaint be 12 complete in itself without reference to any prior pleading. As a general rule, an 13 “amended complaint supersedes the original” complaint. See Loux v. Rhay, 375 F.2d 14 55, 57 (9th Cir. 1967). Once an amended complaint is filed, the original complaint no 15 longer serves any function in the case. Therefore, in an amended complaint, as in an 16 original complaint, each claim and the involvement of each defendant must be 17 sufficiently alleged. The amended complaint should be clearly and boldly titled “First 18 Amended Complaint,” refer to the appropriate case number, and be an original signed 19 under penalty of perjury. Plaintiff's amended complaint should be brief. Fed. R. Civ. P. 20 8(a). Although accepted as true, the “[f]actual allegations must be [sufficient] to raise a 21 right to relief above the speculative level . . . .” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations 22 omitted). 23 Accordingly, it is HEREBY ORDERED that: 24 1. 25 26 27 Plaintiff’s March 9, 2016, Complaint (ECF No. 1) is dismissed for failure to state a claim; 2. Plaintiff shall file a First Amended Complaint within thirty days from the date of this Order; and 28 6 1 3. Plaintiff’s failure to file an amended complaint within thirty days will result in 2 a recommendation that this action be dismissed without prejudice for failure to prosecute 3 and failure to comply with a court order. 4 5 6 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: October 17, 2016 /s/ 7 Michael J. Seng UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 8 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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