Stanley v. California Medical Facility et al

Filing 7

ORDER signed by Magistrate Judge Craig M. Kellison on 5/12/2017 DISMISSING CASE WITH LEAVE TO AMEND. Plaintiff to file amended complaint within 30 days of the date of service of this order. Defendant California Medical Facility is DISMISSED from this action. (Henshaw, R)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 STEVEN E. STANLEY, JR., 12 13 14 No. 2:16-cv-1070-CMK Plaintiff, vs. ORDER CALIFORNIA MEDICAL FACILITY, et al., 15 Defendant. 16 17 / Plaintiff, a prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 18 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 19 636(c) and no other party has been served or appeared in the action. Pending before the court is 20 plaintiff’s complaint (Doc. 1). 21 The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief 22 against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. 23 § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if it: (1) is frivolous or 24 malicious; (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief 25 from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Moreover, 26 the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that complaints contain a “short and plain statement 1 1 of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). This means 2 that claims must be stated simply, concisely, and directly. See McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 3 1177 (9th Cir. 1996) (referring to Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(e)(1)). These rules are satisfied if the 4 complaint gives the defendant fair notice of the plaintiff’s claim and the grounds upon which it 5 rests. See Kimes v. Stone, 84 F.3d 1121, 1129 (9th Cir. 1996). Because plaintiff must allege 6 with at least some degree of particularity overt acts by specific defendants which support the 7 claims, vague and conclusory allegations fail to satisfy this standard. Additionally, it is 8 impossible for the court to conduct the screening required by law when the allegations are vague 9 and conclusory. 10 11 I. PLAINTIFF’S ALLEGATIONS In his complaint, plaintiff alleges that he had a lower bunk chrono due to his back 12 and hip problems. The claims defendant McAllister took away his lower bunk chrono, 13 apparently due to a computer error, and he was reassigned to an upper bunk. While trying to 14 climb up on the upper bunk, plaintiff fell and injured his arm. Three days later, his lower bunk 15 chrono was reinstated. 16 17 II. DISCUSSION The treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which the 18 prisoner is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel 19 and unusual punishment. See Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993); Farmer v. Brennan, 20 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). The Eighth Amendment “embodies broad and idealistic concepts of 21 dignity, civilized standards, humanity, and decency.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102 22 (1976). Conditions of confinement may, however, be harsh and restrictive. See Rhodes v. 23 Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981). Nonetheless, prison officials must provide prisoners with 24 “food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, medical care, and personal safety.” Toussaint v. McCarthy, 25 801 F.2d 1080, 1107 (9th Cir. 1986). A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only 26 when two requirements are met: (1) objectively, the official’s act or omission must be so serious 2 1 such that it results in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities; and (2) 2 subjectively, the prison official must have acted unnecessarily and wantonly for the purpose of 3 inflicting harm. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. Thus, to violate the Eighth Amendment, a prison 4 official must have a “sufficiently culpable mind.” See id. 5 Deliberate indifference to a prisoner’s serious illness or injury, or risks of serious 6 injury or illness, gives rise to a claim under the Eighth Amendment. See Estelle, 429 U.S. at 7 105; see also Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. This applies to physical as well as dental and mental 8 health needs. See Hoptowit v. Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1253 (9th Cir. 1982). An injury or illness is 9 sufficiently serious if the failure to treat a prisoner’s condition could result in further significant 10 injury or the “unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.” McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 11 1059 (9th Cir. 1992); see also Doty v. County of Lassen, 37 F.3d 540, 546 (9th Cir. 1994). 12 Factors indicating seriousness are: (1) whether a reasonable doctor would think that the condition 13 is worthy of comment; (2) whether the condition significantly impacts the prisoner’s daily 14 activities; and (3) whether the condition is chronic and accompanied by substantial pain. See 15 Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1131-32 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). 16 The requirement of deliberate indifference is less stringent in medical needs cases 17 than in other Eighth Amendment contexts because the responsibility to provide inmates with 18 medical care does not generally conflict with competing penological concerns. See McGuckin, 19 974 F.2d at 1060. Thus, deference need not be given to the judgment of prison officials as to 20 decisions concerning medical needs. See Hunt v. Dental Dep’t, 865 F.2d 198, 200 (9th Cir. 21 1989). The complete denial of medical attention may constitute deliberate indifference. See 22 Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1111 (9th Cir. 1986). Delay in providing medical 23 treatment, or interference with medical treatment, may also constitute deliberate indifference. 24 See Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1131. Where delay is alleged, however, the prisoner must also 25 demonstrate that the delay led to further injury. See McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1060. 26 /// 3 1 Here, plaintiff alleges his lower bunk chrono was taken away due to a computer 2 error. Plaintiff does not state how long he was required to endure the upper bunk assignment, or 3 what was attempted to resolve the error, if anything. There is also no indication in the complaint 4 that Dr. McAllister acted in a deliberately indifferent manner toward plaintiff’s needs. It appears 5 that the lower bunk chono was reinstated shortly after it was revoked. The facts as alleged fail to 6 provide sufficient detail to show Dr. McAllister was deliberately indifferent to plaintiff’s medical 7 needs. However, plaintiff will be provided an opportunity to file an amended complaint in an 8 attempt to state facts sufficient to state a claim. 9 As to defendant the California Medical Facility, there are no factual allegations 10 against the facility at all, and the Eleventh Amendment provides protection against the 11 institution. The Eleventh Amendment prohibits federal courts from hearing suits brought against 12 a state both by its own citizens, as well as by citizens of other states. See Brooks v. Sulphur 13 Springs Valley Elec. Coop., 951 F.2d 1050, 1053 (9th Cir. 1991). This prohibition extends to 14 suits against states themselves, and to suits against state agencies. See Lucas v. Dep’t of Corr., 15 66 F.3d 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995) (per curiam); Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 16 1989). A state’s agency responsible for incarceration and correction of prisoners is a state 17 agency for purposes of the Eleventh Amendment. See Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782 18 (1978) (per curiam); Hale v. Arizona, 993 F.2d 1387, 1398-99 (9th cir. 1993) (en banc). As 19 such, the California Medical Facility will be dismissed from this action. 20 21 III. CONCLUSION Because it is possible that the deficiencies in plaintiff’s claim against defendant 22 McAllister may be cured by amending the complaint, plaintiff is entitled to leave to amend prior 23 to dismissal of the entire action. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126, 1131 (9th Cir. 2000) 24 (en banc). Plaintiff is informed that, as a general rule, an amended complaint supersedes the 25 original complaint. See Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1262 (9th Cir. 1992). Thus, 26 following dismissal with leave to amend, all claims alleged in the original complaint which are 4 1 not alleged in the amended complaint are waived. See King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th 2 Cir. 1987). Therefore, if plaintiff amends the complaint, the court cannot refer to the prior 3 pleading in order to make plaintiff's amended complaint complete. See Local Rule 220. An 4 amended complaint must be complete in itself without reference to any prior pleading. See id. 5 If plaintiff chooses to amend the complaint, plaintiff must demonstrate how the 6 conditions complained of have resulted in a deprivation of plaintiff’s constitutional rights. See 7 Ellis v. Cassidy, 625 F.2d 227 (9th Cir. 1980). The complaint must allege in specific terms how 8 each named defendant is involved, and must set forth some affirmative link or connection 9 between each defendant’s actions and the claimed deprivation. See May v. Enomoto, 633 F.2d 10 11 164, 167 (9th Cir. 1980); Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). Finally, plaintiff is warned that failure to file an amended complaint within the 12 time provided in this order may be grounds for dismissal of this action. See Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 13 1260-61; see also Local Rule 110. Plaintiff is also warned that a complaint which fails to comply 14 with Rule 8 may, in the court’s discretion, be dismissed with prejudice pursuant to Rule 41(b). 15 See Nevijel v. North Coast Life Ins. Co., 651 F.2d 671, 673 (9th Cir. 1981). 16 Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: 17 1. Plaintiff’s complaint is dismissed with leave to amend; 18 2. Defendant California Medical Facility is dismissed from this action; and 19 2. Plaintiff shall file an amended complaint within 30 days of the date of 20 service of this order. 21 22 23 24 25 DATED: May 12, 2017 ______________________________________ CRAIG M. KELLISON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 26 5 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 6

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?