Tran v. Wrye et al

Filing 7

ORDER signed by Magistrate Judge Craig M. Kellison on 04/14/17 ordering plaintiff's complaint is dismissed with leave to amend. Plaintiff shall file an amended complaint within 30 days of the date of service of this order. (Plummer, M)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 BINH TRAN, 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 No. 2:15-cv-2200-CMK Plaintiff, vs. ORDER M.D. SCOTT W. WRYE, et al. Defendant. / Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court is plaintiff’s complaint (Doc. 1). The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief 20 against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. 21 § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if it: (1) is frivolous or 22 malicious; (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief 23 from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Moreover, 24 the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that complaints contain a “short and plain statement 25 of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). This means 26 that claims must be stated simply, concisely, and directly. See McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1 1 1177 (9th Cir. 1996) (referring to Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(e)(1)). These rules are satisfied if the 2 complaint gives the defendant fair notice of the plaintiff’s claim and the grounds upon which it 3 rests. See Kimes v. Stone, 84 F.3d 1121, 1129 (9th Cir. 1996). Because plaintiff must allege 4 with at least some degree of particularity overt acts by specific defendants which support the 5 claims, vague and conclusory allegations fail to satisfy this standard. Additionally, it is 6 impossible for the court to conduct the screening required by law when the allegations are vague 7 and conclusory. 8 9 I. PLAINTIFF’S ALLEGATIONS In his complaint plaintiff alleges that he suffered a broken jaw from an assault by 10 a cellmate. He was transported and treated at Renown Regional Medical Center where defendant 11 Wrye performed surgery to repair the damage. At a follow up visit with Dr. Wrye, plaintiff 12 informed Dr. Wrye that he was hearing bone popping and his teeth were not aligned. Dr. Wrye 13 removed the wire anyway. At a second follow up visit, plaintiff informed Dr. Wrye that he was 14 experiencing pain. A month later, he saw a dentist at the prison for the pain, who recommended 15 him to an oral surgeon. The oral surgeon, Dr. Landis, recommended a second surgery, which 16 was successfully performed a few months later. He is requesting a transfer to a facility where he 17 will receive adequate medical treatment, proper medication for his pain, examination by another 18 specialist, physical therapy, monetary damages for his pain and suffering, and protection from 19 cruel and unusual punishment. 20 21 II. DISCUSSION Plaintiff’s complaint suffers from a few deficiencies. It appears plaintiff is 22 attempting to set forth an Eighth Amendment claim for cruel and unusual punishment based on 23 medical treatment. However, his allegations are insufficient to state a claim. 24 The treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which the 25 prisoner is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel 26 and unusual punishment. See Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993); Farmer v. Brennan, 2 1 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). The Eighth Amendment “. . . embodies broad and idealistic concepts 2 of dignity, civilized standards, humanity, and decency.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102 3 (1976). Conditions of confinement may, however, be harsh and restrictive. See Rhodes v. 4 Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981). Nonetheless, prison officials must provide prisoners with 5 “food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, medical care, and personal safety.” Toussaint v. McCarthy, 6 801 F.2d 1080, 1107 (9th Cir. 1986). A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only 7 when two requirements are met: (1) objectively, the official’s act or omission must be so serious 8 such that it results in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities; and (2) 9 subjectively, the prison official must have acted unnecessarily and wantonly for the purpose of 10 inflicting harm. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. Thus, to violate the Eighth Amendment, a prison 11 official must have a “sufficiently culpable mind.” See id. 12 Deliberate indifference to a prisoner’s serious illness or injury, or risks of serious 13 injury or illness, gives rise to a claim under the Eighth Amendment. See Estelle, 429 U.S. at 14 105; see also Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. This applies to physical as well as dental and mental 15 health needs. See Hoptowit v. Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1253 (9th Cir. 1982). An injury or illness is 16 sufficiently serious if the failure to treat a prisoner’s condition could result in further significant 17 injury or the “unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.” McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 18 1059 (9th Cir. 1992); see also Doty v. County of Lassen, 37 F.3d 540, 546 (9th Cir. 1994). 19 Factors indicating seriousness are: (1) whether a reasonable doctor would think that the condition 20 is worthy of comment; (2) whether the condition significantly impacts the prisoner’s daily 21 activities; and (3) whether the condition is chronic and accompanied by substantial pain. See 22 Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1131-32 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). 23 The requirement of deliberate indifference is less stringent in medical needs cases 24 than in other Eighth Amendment contexts because the responsibility to provide inmates with 25 medical care does not generally conflict with competing penological concerns. See McGuckin, 26 974 F.2d at 1060. Thus, deference need not be given to the judgment of prison officials as to 3 1 decisions concerning medical needs. See Hunt v. Dental Dep’t, 865 F.2d 198, 200 (9th Cir. 2 1989). The complete denial of medical attention may constitute deliberate indifference. See 3 Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1111 (9th Cir. 1986). Delay in providing medical 4 treatment, or interference with medical treatment, may also constitute deliberate indifference. 5 See Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1131. Where delay is alleged, however, the prisoner must also 6 demonstrate that the delay led to further injury. See McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1060. 7 Negligence in diagnosing or treating a medical condition does not, however, give 8 rise to a claim under the Eighth Amendment. See Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106. Moreover, a 9 difference of opinion between the prisoner and medical providers concerning the appropriate 10 course of treatment does not give rise to an Eighth Amendment claim. See Jackson v. McIntosh, 11 90 F.3d 330, 332 (9th Cir. 1996). 12 Here, plaintiff names his first surgeon, Dr. Wrye, as a defendant. However, he 13 fails to explain how Dr. Wrye violated his Eighth Amendment rights. It does not appear that Dr. 14 Wrye failed to provide plaintiff treatment as plaintiff alleges he performed surgery. Nor is there 15 any allegation that Dr. Wrye somehow acted with deliberate indifference to plaintiff’s medical 16 needs. If plaintiff’s claim is that the surgery was unsuccessful, at best that would lead to a 17 negligence or medical malpractice action, not an Eighth Amendment violation. 18 In addition, plaintiff names both the current and former warden of the facility, as 19 well as the chief medical officer. However, there are no factual allegations related to any of these 20 other named defendants. 21 To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiff must allege an actual 22 connection or link between the actions of the named defendants and the alleged deprivations. 23 See Monell v. Dep’t of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 24 (1976). “A person ‘subjects’ another to the deprivation of a constitutional right, within the 25 meaning of § 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts, or 26 omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which 4 1 complaint is made.” Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). Vague and 2 conclusory allegations concerning the involvement of official personnel in civil rights violations 3 are not sufficient. See Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). Rather, the 4 plaintiff must set forth specific facts as to each individual defendant’s causal role in the alleged 5 constitutional deprivation. See Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988). 6 As plaintiff makes no allegations as to these three other defendants, the complaint 7 is insufficient to state a claim against them. To the extent plaintiff has named these other 8 defendants due to their supervisorial position, that is also insufficient. 9 Supervisory personnel are generally not liable under § 1983 for the actions of their 10 employees. See Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989) (holding that there is no 11 respondeat superior liability under § 1983). A supervisor is only liable for the constitutional 12 violations of subordinates if the supervisor participated in or directed the violations. See id. The 13 Supreme Court has rejected the notion that a supervisory defendant can be liable based on 14 knowledge and acquiescence in a subordinate’s unconstitutional conduct because government 15 officials, regardless of their title, can only be held liable under § 1983 for his or her own conduct 16 and not the conduct of others. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). 17 Supervisory personnel who implement a policy so deficient that the policy itself is a repudiation 18 of constitutional rights and the moving force behind a constitutional violation may, however, be 19 liable even where such personnel do not overtly participate in the offensive act. See Redman v. 20 Cnty of San Diego, 942 F.2d 1435, 1446 (9th Cir. 1991) (en banc). 21 When a defendant holds a supervisory position, the causal link between such 22 defendant and the claimed constitutional violation must be specifically alleged. See Fayle v. 23 Stapley, 607 F.2d 858, 862 (9th Cir. 1979); Mosher v. Saalfeld, 589 F.2d 438, 441 (9th Cir. 24 1978). Vague and conclusory allegations concerning the involvement of supervisory personnel 25 in civil rights violations are not sufficient. See Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th 26 Cir. 1982). “[A] plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the 5 1 official’s own individual actions, has violated the constitution.” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1948. 2 III. CONCLUSION 3 Because it is possible that the deficiencies identified in this order may be cured by 4 amending the complaint, plaintiff is entitled to leave to amend prior to dismissal of the entire 5 action. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126, 1131 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). Plaintiff is 6 informed that, as a general rule, an amended complaint supersedes the original complaint. See 7 Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1262 (9th Cir. 1992). Thus, following dismissal with leave to 8 amend, all claims alleged in the original complaint which are not alleged in the amended 9 complaint are waived. See King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987). Therefore, if 10 plaintiff amends the complaint, the court cannot refer to the prior pleading in order to make 11 plaintiff's amended complaint complete. See Local Rule 220. An amended complaint must be 12 complete in itself without reference to any prior pleading. See id. 13 If plaintiff chooses to amend the complaint, plaintiff must demonstrate how the 14 conditions complained of have resulted in a deprivation of plaintiff’s constitutional rights. See 15 Ellis v. Cassidy, 625 F.2d 227 (9th Cir. 1980). The complaint must allege in specific terms how 16 each named defendant is involved, and must set forth some affirmative link or connection 17 between each defendant’s actions and the claimed deprivation. See May v. Enomoto, 633 F.2d 18 164, 167 (9th Cir. 1980); Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). 19 Finally, plaintiff is warned that failure to file an amended complaint within the 20 time provided in this order may be grounds for dismissal of this action. See Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 21 1260-61; see also Local Rule 110. Plaintiff is also warned that a complaint which fails to comply 22 with Rule 8 may, in the court’s discretion, be dismissed with prejudice pursuant to Rule 41(b). 23 See Nevijel v. North Coast Life Ins. Co., 651 F.2d 671, 673 (9th Cir. 1981). 24 Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: 25 1. 26 Plaintiff’s complaint is dismissed with leave to amend; and /// 6 1 2 2. Plaintiff shall file an amended complaint within 30 days of the date of service of this order. 3 4 5 6 DATED: April 14, 2017 ______________________________________ CRAIG M. KELLISON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 7

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