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Lopez v. Clark

August 25, 2008

ANTONIO LOPEZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
KEN CLARK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, WITH LEAVE TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT WITHIN THIRTY DAYS (Doc. 1)

Screening Order

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Antonio Lopez ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed this action on October 19, 2007.

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 upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),(2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or 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 upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

"Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions," none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Pursuant to Rule 8(a), 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). "Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. However, "the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations." Neitze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). "[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled." Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).

II. Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment Medical Care Claims

Plaintiff is currently housed at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (CSATF) in Corcoran. The events giving rise to the claims at issue in this action allegedly occurred at Avenal State Prison. Plaintiff alleges a violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution stemming from prison officials' failure to provide him with proper and/or adequate medical treatment. Plaintiff names Ken Clark, Warden at CSATF, the Warden at Avenal State Prison, and unknown staff as defendants. Plaintiff seeks money damages.

Plaintiff states that on April 16, 2004 he was working at the furniture factory at Avenal State Prison when an accident involving plaintiff's eyes occurred. Plaintiff was informed by an ophtalmologist that due to the time between his appointments, plaintiff's sight was damaged beyond repair. Plaintiff states that due to "deliberate indifference", he has lost his eyesight.

"[T]o maintain an Eighth Amendment claim based on prison medical treatment, an inmate must show 'deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.'" Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106, 97 S.Ct. 295 (1976)). The two part test for deliberate indifference requires the plaintiff to show (1) "'a serious medical need' by demonstrating that 'failure to treat a prisoner's condition could result in further significant injury or the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain,'" and (2) "the defendant's response to the need was deliberately indifferent." Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096 (quoting McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1992), overruled on other grounds, WMX Techs., Inc. v. Miller, 104 F.3d 1133, 1136 (9th Cir. 1997) (en banc) (internal quotations omitted)).

Deliberate indifference is shown by "a purposeful act or failure to respond to a prisoner's pain or possible medical need, and harm caused by the indifference." Id. (citing McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1060). Deliberate indifference may be manifested "when prison officials deny, delay or intentionally interfere with medical treatment, or it may be shown by the way in which prison physicians provide medical care." Id. (citing McGuckin at 1060 (internal quotations omitted)). Where a prisoner is alleging a delay in receiving medical treatment, the delay must have led to further harm in order for the prisoner to make a claim of deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. McGuckin at 1060 (citing Shapely v. Nevada Bd. of State Prison Comm'rs, 766 F.2d 404, 407 (9th Cir. 1985)).

Plaintiff has adequately alleged the existence of a serious medical need. However, Plaintiff has not alleged any specific facts linking each named defendant to an act or omission which demonstrates a violation of his rights. Plaintiff is required to briefly set forth facts in support of his claims against the named defendants (e.g., identify what the defendant did or did not do). Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007).

The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides:

Every person who, under color of [state law] . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution . . . shall be liable to the party injured in an ...


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