Rives v. Matevousian et al

Filing 10

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND for Failure to State a Claim signed by Magistrate Judge Stanley A. Boone on 5/17/2017. First Amended Complaint due within thirty (30) days. (Attachments: # 1 Amended Complaint Form). (Jessen, A)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 8 9 SHAWN LEE RIVES, 10 11 12 Plaintiff, v. MATEVOUSIAN, et al., 13 Defendants. 1:17-cv-00347-SAB (PC) ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM (ECF No. 1) THIRTY DAY DEADLINE 14 15 Plaintiff Shawn Lee Rives is a federal prisoner proceeding pro se and informa pauperis in 16 this civil rights action pursuant to Bivens vs. Six Unknown Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). 17 Currently before the Court is Plaintiff’s complaint, filed March 9, 2017. 18 I. 19 SCREENING 20 The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a 21 governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The 22 Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally 23 “frivolous or malicious,” that “fail[] to state a claim on which relief may be granted,” or that 24 “seek[] monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 25 1915(e)(2)(B). 26 A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the 27 pleader is entitled to relief. . . .” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not 28 required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere 1 1 conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell 2 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Moreover, Plaintiff must demonstrate 3 that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of Plaintiff’s rights. Jones v. 4 Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). 5 Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings 6 liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor. Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 7 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted). To survive screening, Plaintiff’s claims must be 8 facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer 9 that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Moss 10 v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The “sheer possibility that a defendant 11 has acted unlawfully” is not sufficient, and “facts that are ‘merely consistent with’ a defendant’s 12 liability” falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572 F.3d 13 at 969. 14 II. 15 COMPLAINT ALLEGATIONS 16 Plaintiff is a federal prisoner and is currently housed at the Coleman I Penitentiary. Prior 17 to be taken into custody, Plaintiff had been diagnosed with a slipped disk and folliculitis (an 18 inflammatory condition which may be disfiguring). (Compl. 3.1) Plaintiff had an MRI about 19 October 3, 2002, which confirmed a serious spinal cord injury and suffers from continued back 20 pain. (Compl. 3-4.) 21 Around February 26, 2017, when Plaintiff was taken into the custody of the United States, 22 he was housed at the United States Penitentiary in Atwater. (Compl. 1, 2-3.) Between February 23 26, 2017, through March 3, 2017, Plaintiff requested medical treatment more than thirty times. 24 (Compl. 3.) Medical staff has consistently refused to provide Plaintiff with proper medical care. 25 (Compl. 3.) The warden has refused to instruct medical staff to provide Plaintiff with proper 26 medical care and all Federal Bureau of Prison (“FBOP”) personnel have refused to ensure that 27 1 28 All references to pagination of specific documents pertain to those as indicated on the upper right corners via the CM/ECF electronic court docketing system. 2 1 Plaintiff receives proper medical care. (Compl. 3.) FBOP personnel have consistently refused to 2 obtain Plaintiff’s prior medical records which include the 2002 MRI. (Compl. 4.) Plaintiff is 3 required to walk unaided on concrete to and from the dining hall, school, etc. resulting in pain. 4 (Compl. 4.) 5 Plaintiff brings this action against Warden Matevousian, Dr. Moore, unidentified FBOP 6 staff and unidentified USP Atwater staff alleging violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Compl. 5- 7 6.) Plaintiff is seeking a declaration that his rights have been violated, permanent injunctive 8 relief, and monetary damages. (Compl. 6.) 9 For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff has failed to allege any cognizable claims for 10 relief. Plaintiff shall be provided with the legal standards that apply to his claim and will be 11 granted an opportunity to file an amended complaint to cure the deficiencies in his complaint. 12 III. 13 DISCUSSION 14 A. Defendant Liability 15 Plaintiff is a prisoner in federal custody and is seeking relief pursuant to Bivens which 16 recognized a private action where federal officers are alleged to have violated the constitutional 17 rights of citizens. Correctional Services Corporation v. Malesko, 534 U.S. 61, 66 (2001). A 18 Bivens action will not lie against the United States, agencies of the United States, or federal 19 agents in their official capacity. See FDIC v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 486 (1994). 20 Additionally, although sovereign immunity does not bar damages actions against federal 21 officials in their individual capacities, an individual may not be held liable in a Bivens action on 22 the theory respondeat superior. Terrell v. Brewer, 935 F.2d 1015, 1017 (9th Cir. 1991) (citations 23 omitted). To state a claim, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated 24 in the deprivation of his rights. Jones, 297 F.3d at 934. In other words, to state a claim for relief, 25 Plaintiff must link each named defendant with some affirmative act or omission that demonstrates 26 a violation of Plaintiff’s federal rights. 27 Plaintiff has failed to include any factual allegations from which the Court could 28 reasonably infer that any named defendant violated his federal rights. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79. 3 1 While the court is to accept all “well pleaded factual allegations” in the complaint as true, id. at 2 679, it is not bound to accept as true labels, conclusions, formulaic recitations of the elements of a 3 cause of action or legal conclusions couched as factual allegations, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. 4 Finally, the conclusory allegations in the complaint are not entitled to the presumption of truth. 5 Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681. For these reasons, Plaintiff has failed to state a cognizable for relief. 6 B. Deliberate Indifference to Serious Medical Needs 7 Under Bivens, a plaintiff may bring suit against a federal employee alleging a violation of 8 the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the Eighth Amendment. Malesko, 534 U.S. at 67. 9 While the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution entitles Plaintiff to medical care, 10 the Eighth Amendment is violated only when a prison official acts with deliberate indifference to 11 an inmate’s serious medical needs. Snow v. McDaniel, 681 F.3d 978, 985 (9th Cir. 2012), 12 overruled in part on other grounds, Peralta v. Dillard, 744 F.3d 1076, 1082-83 (9th Cir. 2014); 13 Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1113; Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006). 14 To state a claim, a plaintiff “must show (1) a serious medical need by demonstrating that 15 failure to treat [his] condition could result in further significant injury or the unnecessary and 16 wanton infliction of pain,” and (2) that “the defendant’s response to the need was deliberately 17 indifferent.” Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1122 (citing Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096). “Deliberate indifference 18 is a high legal standard.” Simmons v. Navajo County, Arizona, 609 F.3d 1011, 1019 (9th Cir. 19 2010); Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1060 (9th Cir. 2004). The requisite state of mind is one 20 of subjective recklessness, which entails more than ordinary lack of due care. Snow, 681 F.3d at 21 985 (citation and quotation marks omitted); Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1122. The prison official must 22 be aware of facts from which he could make an inference that “a substantial risk of serious harm 23 exists” and he must make the inference. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994). 24 Further, “[a] difference of opinion between a physician and the prisoner – or between 25 medical professionals – concerning what medical care is appropriate does not amount to 26 deliberate indifference.” Snow, 681 F.3d at 987 (citing Sanchez v. Vild, 891 F.2d 240, 242 (9th 27 Cir. 1989), overruled in part on other grounds, Peralta, 744 F.3d at 1082-83; Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 28 1122-23 (citing Jackson v. McIntosh, 90 F.3d 330, 332 (9th Cir. 1986). Rather, Plaintiff “must 4 1 show that the course of treatment the doctors chose was medically unacceptable under the 2 circumstances and that the defendants chose this course in conscious disregard of an excessive 3 risk to [his] health.” Snow, 681 F.3d at 988 (citing Jackson, 90 F.3d at 332) (internal quotation 4 marks omitted). 5 To state a claim under the Eighth Amendment, Plaintiff needs to set forth the factual 6 allegations against each named defendant sufficient for the Court to infer that the named 7 defendant was aware of Plaintiff’s serious medical need and failed to adequately respond. 8 Simmons, 609 F.3d at 1018. 9 allegations against the named defendants. Here, Plaintiff’s complaint is largely composed of 10 vague, conclusory allegations and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action” that 11 do not suffice to state a cognizable claim. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 12 555). While a complaint should be brief, it must contain factual 13 C. Joinder 14 A basic lawsuit is a single claim against a single defendant. Federal Rule of Civil 15 Procedure 18(a) allows a plaintiff to add multiple claims to the lawsuit when they are against the 16 same defendant. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20(a)(2) allows a plaintiff to join multiple 17 defendants to a lawsuit where the right to relief arises out of the same “transaction, occurrence, or 18 series of transactions” and “any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the 19 action.” However, unrelated claims that involve different defendants must be brought in separate 20 lawsuits. See George, 507 F.3d at 607. This rule is not only intended to avoid confusion that 21 arises out of bloated lawsuits, but also to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees for 22 their lawsuits and prevent prisoners from circumventing the three strikes rule under the Prison 23 Litigation Reform Act. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). 24 The Court advises Plaintiff that if he chooses to amend his complaint each claim that is 25 raised in his amended complaint must be permitted by either Rule 18 or Rule 20. Plaintiff may 26 state a single claim against a single defendant. Plaintiff may then add any additional claims to his 27 action that are against the same defendant under Rule 18. Fed. R. Civ. P. 18. Plaintiff may also 28 add any additional claims against other defendants if those claims arise from the same transaction, 5 1 occurrence, or series of transactions as his original claim. Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2). Any attempt 2 to join claims that are not permitted by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure will result in those 3 claims being dismissed as improperly joined. 4 D. Equitable Relief 5 1. Declaratory Judgment 6 “A declaratory judgment, like other forms of equitable relief, should be granted only as a 7 matter of judicial discretion, exercised in the public interest.” 8 Lakewood Village, 333 U.S. 426, 431 (1948). “Declaratory relief should be denied when it will 9 neither serve a useful purpose in clarifying and settling the legal relations in issue nor terminate 10 the proceedings and afford relief from the uncertainty and controversy faced by the parties.” 11 United States v. Washington, 759 F.2d 1353, 1357 (9th Cir. 1985). In the event that this action 12 reaches trial and the jury returns a verdict in favor of Plaintiff, that verdict will be a finding that 13 Plaintiff’s constitutional rights were violated. Accordingly, a declaration that any defendant 14 violated Plaintiff’s rights is unnecessary in this action. Eccles v. Peoples Bank of 15 2. Injunctive Relief 16 Plaintiff seeks a permanent injunction requiring the defendants to cease denying him 17 proper medical treatment. Requests for prospective relief are further limited by 18 U.S.C. § 18 3626(a)(1)(A) of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, which requires that the Court find the “relief 19 [sought] is narrowly drawn, extends no further than necessary to correct the violation of the 20 Federal right, and is the least intrusive means necessary to correct the violation of the Federal 21 right.” To the extent that Plaintiff would be able to receive a permanent injunction if he were to 22 prevail on the merits of his claim, Plaintiff’s general request for proper medical care is overly 23 broad and does not comport with the requirements of section 3626. 24 IV. 25 CONCLUSION AND ORDER 26 For the reasons stated, Plaintiff’s complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be 27 granted. Plaintiff is granted leave to file an amended complaint within thirty (30) days. Noll v. 28 Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448-49 (9th Cir. 1987). Plaintiff may not change the nature of this suit 6 1 by adding new, unrelated claims in his amended complaint. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 2 (7th Cir. 2007) (no “buckshot” complaints). 3 Plaintiff’s amended complaint should be brief, Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a), but must state what 4 each named defendant did that led to the deprivation of Plaintiff’s constitutional or other federal 5 rights. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678. “The inquiry into causation must be individualized and focus on 6 the duties and responsibilities of each individual defendant whose acts or omissions are alleged to 7 have caused a constitutional deprivation.” Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 633 (9th Cir. 1988). 8 Although accepted as true, the “[f]actual allegations must be [sufficient] to raise a right to relief 9 above the speculative level . . .” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). 10 Finally, an amended complaint supersedes the original complaint, Forsyth v. Humana, 11 Inc., 114 F.3d 1467, 1474 (9th Cir. 1997); King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987), and 12 must be “complete in itself without reference to the prior or superseded pleading,” Local Rule 13 220. “All causes of action alleged in an original complaint which are not alleged in an amended 14 complaint are waived.” King, 814 F.2d at 567 (citing to London v. Coopers & Lybrand, 644 F.2d 15 811, 814 (9th Cir. 1981)); accord Forsyth, 114 F.3d at 1474. 16 Based on the foregoing, it is HEREBY ORDERED that: 17 1. The Clerk’s Office shall send Plaintiff an amended civil rights complaint form; 18 2. Plaintiff’s complaint, filed March 9, 2017, is dismissed for failure to state a claim; 19 3. Within thirty (30) days from the date of service of this order, Plaintiff shall file an 20 amended complaint; and 21 4. 22 If Plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint in compliance with this order, this action will be dismissed for failure to state a claim. 23 24 25 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: May 17, 2017 UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 26 27 28 7

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