Knirnschild v. Ada County Jail
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER. Plaintiffs Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint (Dkt. 10 ) is DENIED. Plaintiffs Second Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint (Dkt. 12 ) is DENIED. The Third Amended Complaint is due no later than 30 days after entry of this Order. Signed by Judge B. Lynn Winmill. (caused to be mailed to non Registered Participants at the addresses listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) by (alw)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF IDAHO
BRADLEY DAVID KNIRNSCHILD,
Case No. 1:20-cv-00327-BLW
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER BY
ADA COUNTY JAIL,
BRADLEY DAVID KNIRNSCHILD,
Case No. 1:20-cv-00341-BLW
ADA COUNTY JAIL,
Plaintiff Bradley David Knirnschild, a pretrial detainee inmate at the Ada County
Jail, has filed two original Complaints (which were consolidated into this action, see Dkt.
1, 6), an Amendment to Original Complaint (Dkt. 7), an Amended Complaint (Dkt. 11)
and a Second Amended Complaint (Dkt. 13) (which is nothing more than a one-page case
caption). He has also filed a Proposed Supplemental Complaint. (Dkt. 15.)
The Court has reviewed the pleadings and has determined that further amendment
is required if Plaintiff desires to proceed. To avoid confusion in the record, the Court will
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strike all of Plaintiff’s current pleadings. He will be ordered to bring all of his excessive
noise and medical claims against all defendants in this action. Plaintiff’s Proposed
Supplemental Complaint regarding access to courts issues against a different set of
defendants will be severed into its own new action.
Standard of Law
Under modern pleading standards, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 requires a
complaint to “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). This “facial plausibility” standard
is met when a complaint contains “factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
In addition, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA)1 requires the Court to screen
all pro se prisoner and pauper complaints to determine whether they have stated a claim
upon which relief can be granted before such complaints are served on the defendants. 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915 & 1915A. The Court must dismiss any claims that are frivolous or
malicious, that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e, et seq.
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The Court liberally construes a plaintiff’s pleadings to determine whether the case
should be dismissed for lack of a cognizable legal theory or a failure to plead sufficient
facts to support a cognizable legal theory, under the Iqbal/Twombly standard. To state a
claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the civil rights statute, a plaintiff must allege a violation of
rights protected by the Constitution or created by federal statute proximately caused by
conduct of a person acting under color of state law. Crumpton v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418,
1420 (9th Cir. 1991).
Plaintiff’s several pleadings allege the following. Plaintiff was housed in the
maximum security unit of the Ada County Jail from about December 2019 to February
2020. During that time, he asserts that the loud slamming of doors and the particular
construction of the cells proved to be an abnormally loud environment that caused him to
develop tinnitus in his left ear. He asserts that he complained verbally and through the
jail’s kiosk system that he developed tinnitus from being housed in Cell #1510. Plaintiff
asked for earplugs and for a transfer to a different cell, but he alleges that those requests
were denied, some by medical personnel and some by prison officials.
Plaintiff sought medical help when he developed tinnitus. Nurse Michael Brewer
examined Plaintiff’s ears and saw no blockage or buildup of ear wax and determined
there was no need to perform an ear flush. Nurse Brewer said the ringing in Plaintiff’s
left ear was tinnitus and there were no cure for it. (Dkt. 3 in Case No. 20-341.)
Plaintiff alleges that the loud noises brought on or exacerbated symptoms of his
pre-existing Addison’s disease, including heart flutters, chest pain, dizziness, shortness of
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breath, fatigue, sleep loss, high blood pressure, and stress on the endocrine system. (Dkt.
11 in Case No. 20-327.) He asserts that Defendants were aware of his Addison’s disease
when he first came to the jail. Plaintiff says that Defendants denied his requests to move
when he told prison officials he had difficulty sleeping and when he reported his medical
symptoms to medical personnel.
Plaintiff alleges that, on December 31, 2019, he saw Dr. Stuart Clive for tinnitus
and stress-induced symptoms, and Dr. Clive did not refer him to a specialist.
Plaintiff alleges that, on February 19, 2020, Bradley Bigford, a Physician’s
Assistant, attempted to treat Plaintiff’s tinnitus with Zyrtec, without being qualified to
diagnose or treat Plaintiff, and that Bigford did not provide earplugs or refer him to a
specialist. Bigford told Plaintiff that the ringing in his ears would go away in about a
month and a half, but it did not.
Plaintiff alleges that, on February 19, 2020, Dr. Clive “was given the opportunity
to review Bradley Bigford’s findings” and made an informed decision to not provide
Plaintiff with earplugs and not refer him to a specialist.
On July 1, 2020, Plaintiff, then 27 years old, was sent to a hearing specialist at the
Idaho Elks Hearing and Balance Center, Samantha Brumbach, who tested his ears and
informed him that tinnitus was incurable, but she gave him a list of alternative things to
try to help lessen the symptoms and irritation. In the Elks Center report, the audiologist
wrote: “Patient reports ... he was given ear plugs but they were uncomfortable.” (20-317,
Dkt. 11-2, p. 3.)
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In a follow-up letter in response to a letter of inquiry from Plaintiff, Ms. Brumbach
The test where you had some reduced responses indicates
possible damage in the outer hair cells of the cochlea (the
snail like structure). As previously stated, the damage is
minimal and there is no way to determine when this damage
occurred or what the result of the damage was. It could be a
natural consequence of an aging ear or noise exposure
throughout your lifetime.
(Dkt. 11-2, p. 7, in Case 20-317.)
Plaintiff alleges that, after he was diagnosed with tinnitus, he was still housed next
to a loud slamming door without any hearing protection.
Different from his statement to the audiologist that he was, in fact, given earplugs
but found them uncomfortable, Plaintiff states in his pleading that the Ada County Jail
has a policy of not issuing ear plugs to indigent inmates free of charge, and that he was
indigent at the time he requested earplugs. Plaintiff also asserts that he desires to amend
his pleadings to sue the Ada County Board of Commissioners-District I, because Idaho
Code § 20-622 requires jail commissioners to inspect the jail living conditions every
An essential element of a § 1983 case is that the plaintiff show that the defendants’
actions caused the deprivation of a constitutional right. 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Arnold v.
International Business Machines Corp., 637 F.2d 1350, 1355 (9th Cir. 1981). “The
causation requirement of § 1983 ... is not satisfied by a showing of mere causation in
fact[;] [r]ather, the plaintiff must establish proximate or legal causation.” Id. The
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proximate cause analysis focuses on whether it was foreseeable that the state actor’s
conduct would result in a deprivation of the prisoner’s right to access the courts. Phillips
v. Hust, 477 F.3d 1070, 1077 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing Tahoe-Sierra Pres. Council, Inc. v.
Tahoe Reg'l Planning Agency, 216 F.3d 764, 784-85 (9th Cir. 2000)). Plaintiff has not
clearly linked any act of any defendant to his injury. Therefore, he must file a Third
Amended Complaint if he desires to proceed.
If Plaintiff chooses to file a Third Amended Complaint, he must allege a sufficient
causal connection between each defendant’s actions and the claimed deprivation of his
constitutional rights. Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (1989); Johnson v. Duffy, 588
F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). “Vague and conclusory allegations of official participation
in civil rights violations are not sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss” or to survive
screening under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A. Ivey v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. of Alaska,
673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982); see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (a complaint is
insufficient if it “tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement”).
The Third Amended Complaint should address these questions. If he does not
have sufficient information to show a causal link between a defendant and his injuries, he
should omit that defendant at this time, retaining the potential to amend his pleadings
when he has obtained more information.
When did Plaintiff first report that the slamming doors were bothering his ears,
how did he report it, what is the title or name of the person he reported it to, and what
was their response? When was the next time he reported that the slamming doors were
bothering his ears, what is the title or name of the person he reported it to, and what was
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their response? This question should be answered for each additional time he reported
When did Plaintiff first request earplugs, from whom, and what was the response?
What is the name of the person who told Plaintiff that the Ada County Jail had a policy of
not giving free ear plugs to jail inmates, and what date was this done? When was Plaintiff
given earplugs, who gave them to him, and what prompted them to give him the
earplugs? Did Plaintiff not wear the earplugs because they were uncomfortable, and, if
so, what dates did he have ear plugs but not wear them consistently?
If the audiologist told Plaintiff that tinnitus is incurable, then what facts show that
Nurse Brewer, P/A Bigford, and Dr. Clive did anything that caused Plaintiff’s injury?
Who referred Plaintiff to the audiologist and when? Did the audiologist do anything to
help the tinnitus or did she simply test for and confirm its diagnosis? Did the tinnitus get
worse over time or stay the same? If it became worse, when did it become worse and how
can the worsening be described? Has anything helped the tinnitus during the course of the
time Plaintiff has suffered from it?
When did Plaintiff first report that the slamming doors or something else caused
his Addison’s symptoms to flare up, how did he report it, and who did he report it to?
When was the next time he reported that something was bothering his Addison’s
symptoms, how did he report it, and who did he report it to? This question should be
answered for each additional time he reported this. Did Plaintiff suffer from the
symptoms of Addison’s when he arrived at the jail and the noise made them worse, or did
they first begin at the jail? Which medical providers did he report the beginning or
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worsening of his Addison’s symptoms to, what did they do to treat him, and when? Did
the treatment help, and, if so, how and when?
Plaintiff asserts that the Ada County commissioners are supposed to inspect the
jail every three months. How were the commissioners on notice that the slamming of
doors at the jail could cause tinnitus? For example, have staff members who work at the
jail developed tinnitus, or have other inmates assigned to that same cell developed
tinnitus, such that jail officials or county commissioners would be on notice of the
consequences of the excessive noise?
The following standards of law may be helpful to Plaintiff in preparing his Third
Pretrial Detainee Conditions of Confinement Claims
The Fourteenth Amendment protects a pretrial detainee from “unconstitutional
conditions of confinement,” a protection that covers Plaintiff’s claims of excessive noise
and inadequate medical care. Gordon v. Cty. of Orange, 888 F.3d 1118, 1124 (9th Cir.
2018), cert. denied sub nom. Cty. of Orange, Cal. v. Gordon, 139 S. Ct. 794 (2019). All
such claims require a showing that the defendants had the requisite state of mind that
preceded or accompanied the violation—defined by “an objective deliberate indifference
standard.” Id. at 1124-25. Under this standard, the court analyzes whether there was “a
substantial risk of serious harm to the plaintiff that could have been eliminated through
reasonable and available measures that the [defendant] did not take, thus causing the
injury that the plaintiff suffered.” Horton by Horton v. City of Santa Maria, 915 F.3d 592,
602 (9th Cir. 2019). Unlike the Eighth Amendment standard for convicted felons, for
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pretrial detainees’ claims, “[t]here is no separate inquiry into [a defendant’s] subjective
state of mind.” Id.
However, under either standard, the “‘mere lack of due care by a state official’
does not deprive an individual of life, liberty, or property.” Castro v. Cty. of Los Angeles,
833 F.3d 1060, 1071 (9th Cir. 2016) (en banc) (quoting Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S.
327, 330-31 (1986)); Gordon, 888 F.3d at 1125 (same). “[T]he plaintiff must ‘prove more
than negligence but less than subjective intent – something akin to reckless disregard.’”
Gordon, 888 F.3d at 1125 (quoting Castro, 833 F.3d at 1070).
Standard of Law for Policy Claims
Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), established that
municipalities “may be liable under § 1983 for constitutional injuries pursuant to (1) an
official policy; (2) a pervasive practice or custom; (3) a failure to train, supervise, or
discipline; or (4) a decision or act by a final policymaker.” Horton, 915 F.3d at 602-03. A
municipality may not, however, be sued under a respondeat superior theory. Id. A
plaintiff must therefore show “deliberate action attributable to the municipality [that]
directly caused a deprivation of federal rights.” Bd. of Cty. Comm’rs v. Brown, 520 U.S.
397, 415 (1997). “Where a court fails to adhere to rigorous requirements of culpability
and causation, municipal liability collapses into respondeat superior liability.” Id.
Standard of Law for Supervisory Claims
In Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202 (9th Cir. 2011), the United States Court of
Appeals for the Ninth Circuit clarified that a supervisory defendant may be held liable
under § 1983 if there is “a sufficient causal connection between the supervisor’s wrongful
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conduct and the constitutional violation.” 652 F.3d at 1207. Allegations sufficient to
show a causal connection include: (1) “setting in motion a series of acts by others”; (2)
“knowingly refus[ing] to terminate a series of acts by others, which [the supervisor] knew
or reasonably should have known would cause others to inflict a constitutional injury”;
(3) failing to act or improperly acting in “the training, supervision, or control of his
subordinates”; (4) “acquiesc[ing] in the constitutional deprivation”; or (5) engaging in
“conduct that showed a reckless or callous indifference to the rights of others.” Id. at
1207-08 (internal quotations and punctuation omitted). Supervisors cannot be sued for the
actions of others merely because they are supervisors. Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045
(9th Cir. 1989).
No Cause of Action under International Declarations
Plaintiff also alleges a cause of action under the “Universal Declaration of Human
Rights,” which is a published declaration by the United Nations. It does not have treaty
status. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Treaty does not “of its own force
impose obligations as a matter of international law.” Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, 542 U.S.
692, 734 (2004). This theory does not support a private cause of action and should not be
included in the Third Amended Complaint.
IT IS ORDERED:
Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint (Dkt. 10) is
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Plaintiff’s Second Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint (Dkt. 12)
To avoid confusion, the following pleadings are stricken: Dkt. 1, Dt. 7, Dkt.
11, Dkt. 13, and Dkt. 15.
Plaintiff is authorized to file one complete Third Amended Complaint,
containing all of his allegations regarding excessive notice and medical
issues against all of defendants for whom he has facts supporting a causal
link. If Plaintiff is permitted to proceed on his Third Amended Complaint
and later discovers facts sufficient to support claims against defendants he
did not include, Plaintiff may move to amend to assert such claims within
the permissible time frame.
The Third Amended Complaint will be the only pleading upon which
Plaintiff will be permitted to proceed in this action, and he will not be
proceeding on any of the pleadings which have been stricken.1 The Third
Amended Complaint is due no later than 30 days after entry of this Order.
Plaintiff shall file a “Motion to File Third Amended Complaint” with his
The Third Amended Complaint must contain all of Plaintiff’s allegations in a single pleading; the
amended complaint will replace the original Complaints and all prior amendments. Therefore, defendants
and claims from the original Complaint and prior amendments that are not included in the Third Amended
Complaint will no longer be considered part of this case. See Dist. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 15.1 (“Any
amendment to a pleading, whether filed as a matter of course or upon a motion to amend, must reproduce
the entire pleading as amended. The proposed amended pleading must be submitted at the time of filing a
motion to amend.”).
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