Millner v. Woods et al
ORDER FINDING Service of First Amended Complaint Appropriate as to Defendants Woods and Hashem signed by Magistrate Judge Stanley A. Boone on 6/5/2017. (Sant Agata, S)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
Case No. 1:16-cv-01209-SAB (PC)
ORDER FINDING SERVICE OF FIRST
AMENDED COMPLAINT APPROPRIATE
AS TO DEFENDANTS WOODS AND
DR. WOODS, et al.,
(ECF No. 8)
Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.1 On August
29, 2016, Plaintiff consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction. (ECF No. 6.) Currently before the
Court is Plaintiff’s amended complaint filed October 24, 2016. (ECF No. 8.)
The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a
governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are
legally “frivolous or malicious,” that “fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted,” or
that “seek monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. §
A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief . . . .” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not
Plaintiff paid the $400 filing fee in full for this action. The PLRA states that “[n]ot withstanding any filing fee, of
27 any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that
the action or appeal fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).
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 (2009)(citing Bell
3 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Moreover, Plaintiff must demonstrate
4 that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of Plaintiff’s rights. Jones v.
5 Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir.2002).
Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings
7 liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor. Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d
8 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012)(citations omitted). To survive screening, Plaintiff’s claims must be
9 facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer
10 that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Moss
11 v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The “sheer possibility that a defendant
12 has acted unlawfully” is not sufficient, and “facts that are ‘merely consistent with’ a defendant’s
13 liability” falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572
14 F.3d at 969.
Plaintiff is in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
18 (“CDCR”) and is housed at Kern Valley State Prison (“KVSP”). Plaintiff brings this civil rights
19 action against Defendants Dr. Woods and Dr. Hashem, dentists employed by the CDCR at
20 KVSP, in their individual and official capacities, seeking injunctive relief and monetary
Prior to December 2014, Plaintiff had damage to his teeth requiring a lower partial. (Am.
23 Compl. ¶ 7, ECF No. 8.) Plaintiff paid for a lower partial on December 29, 2014, and it was
24 confiscated in a cell search. (Id. at ¶ 8.) After not having his partial for a year, Plaintiff told
25 Defendant Woods that due to the delay in receiving his partial it would not fit when it was
26 received. (Id. at ¶ 10.) On October 21, 2015, Plaintiff was interviewed by Defendant Woods
27 regarding an inmate appeal.
(Id. at ¶
Defendant Woods was supposed to add the
28 replacement of a dental bridge to the appeal and did not do so. (Id. at ¶ 11.)
Plaintiff attempted to submit two inmate appeals to add the replacement of the dental
2 bridge to to the appeal but they were not processed. (Id. at ¶ 12.) On October 22, 2015, Plaintiff
3 told Defendant Woods that due to not having his partial his teeth were being destroyed. (Id. at ¶
Defendant Woods visually examined Plaintiff’s teeth and could see that they were
5 deteriorating. (Id. at ¶ 13.) Defendant Woods did not provide treatment to Plaintiff’s teeth. (Id.
6 at ¶ 13.) The failure to provide treatment was causing Plaintiff pain and discomfort and affecting
7 the quality of his life. (Id. at ¶ 13.)
During dental visits Defendants Woods and Hashem expressed to Plaintiff that the
9 absence of the lower partial was causing damage to his teeth, but did nothing. (Id. at ¶ 14.)
10 Defendant Woods explained that Plaintiff would have to have his broken teeth extracted and
11 Plaintiff requested that he receive his partial before all his teeth had to be extracted. (Id. at ¶ 15.)
Plaintiff received a lower partial on February 9, 2016. (Id. at ¶ 17.) Plaintiff contends
13 that the delay in receiving the partial resulted in extensive damage to his teeth which have not
14 been treated. (Id. at ¶ 17.) Plaintiff is in a considerable amount of pain, cannot chew his food,
15 and suffers constantly every day. (Id. at ¶ 19.)
A prisoner’s claim of inadequate medical care does not constitute cruel and unusual
20 punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment unless the mistreatment rises to the level of
21 “deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.” Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir.
22 2006) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976)). The two part test for deliberate
23 indifference requires Plaintiff to show (1) “a ‘serious medical need’ by demonstrating that failure
24 to treat a prisoner’s condition could result in further significant injury or the ‘unnecessary and
25 wanton infliction of pain,’” and (2) “the defendant’s response to the need was deliberately
26 indifferent.” Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096. A defendant does not act in a deliberately indifferent
27 manner unless the defendant “knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or
28 safety.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994). “Deliberate indifference is a high legal
1 standard,” Simmons v. Navajo County Ariz., 609 F.3d 1011, 1019 (9th Cir. 2010); Toguchi v.
2 Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1060 (9th Cir. 2004), and is shown where there was “a purposeful act or
3 failure to respond to a prisoner’s pain or possible medical need” and the indifference caused
4 harm. Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096.
Negligence or medical malpractice do not rise to the level of deliberate indifference.
6 Broughton v. Cutter Laboratories, 622 F.2d 458, 460 (9th Cir. 1980) (citing Estelle, 429 U.S. at
7 105-106). “[A] complaint that a physician has been negligent in diagnosing or treating a medical
8 condition does not state a valid claim of medical mistreatment under the Eighth Amendment.
9 Medical malpractice does not become a constitutional violation merely because the victim is a
10 prisoner.” Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106; see also Anderson v. County of Kern, 45 F.3d 1310, 1316
11 (9th Cir. 1995). Even gross negligence is insufficient to establish deliberate indifference to
12 serious medical needs.
See Wood v. Housewright, 900 F.2d 1332, 1334 (9th Cir. 1990).
13 Additionally, a prisoner’s mere disagreement with diagnosis or treatment does not support a
14 claim of deliberate indifference. Sanchez v. Vild, 891 F.2d 240, 242 (9th Cir. 1989).
Plaintiff’s allegations that Defendants Woods and Hashem were aware of the damage to
16 his teeth which caused him pain and difficulty eating, and refused to provide treatment, is
17 sufficient to state a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need.
Official Capacity Claims
Plaintiff brings this action against Defendants Woods and Hashem in their individual and
20 official capacities. A suit brought against prison officials in their official capacity is generally
21 equivalent to a suit against the prison itself. McRorie v. Shimoda, 795 F.2d 780, 783 (9th Cir.
22 1986). Therefore, prison officials may be held liable if “‘policy or custom’ . . . played a part in
23 the violation of federal law.” Id. (quoting Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985)). The
24 official may be liable where the act or failure to respond reflects a conscious or deliberate choice
25 to follow a course of action when various alternatives were available. Clement v. Gomez, 298
26 F.3d 898, 905 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 389 (1989); see
27 Long v. County of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006); Waggy v. Spokane County
28 Washington, 594 F.3d 707, 713 (9th Cir. 2010). To prove liability for an action policy the
1 plaintiff “must . . . demonstrate that his deprivation resulted from an official policy or custom
2 established by a . . . policymaker possessed with final authority to establish that policy.” Waggy,
3 594 F.3d at 713.
Plaintiff has failed to include factual allegations that the violations at issue in this action
5 were the result of a policy or custom of the CDCR. Plaintiff fails to state an official capacity
6 claim against any named defendant, and his official capacity claims shall be dismissed.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
Plaintiff’s amended complaint states a cognizable claim against Defendants Woods and
10 Hashem, in their individual capacities, for deliberate indifference to a serious dental need in
11 violation of the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff’s complaint fails to state any other cognizable
12 claims. Plaintiff was previously notified of the deficiencies in his claims and provided with the
13 opportunity to amend, but was unable to cure the deficiencies. Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446,
14 1448-49 (9th Cir. 1987).
Accordingly, it is HEREBY ORDERED that:
This action shall proceed on Plaintiff’s amended complaint, filed October 24,
2016, against Defendants Woods and Hashem, in their individual capacities, for
deliberate indifference to a serious dental need in violation of the Eighth
Plaintiff’s official capacity claims are dismissed for failure to state a claim.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
June 5, 2017
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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