Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se. Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and has filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. This proceeding was referred to the undersigned magistrate judge in accordance with Local Rule 72-302 and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
Plaintiff has submitted an in forma pauperis application that makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Accordingly, plaintiff will be granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
Plaintiff is required to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for this action. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a) & 1915(b)(1). Plaintiff has been without funds for six months and is currently without funds. Accordingly, the court will not assess an initial partial filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Plaintiff will be obligated to make monthly payments of twenty percent of the preceding month's income credited to plaintiff's prison trust account. These payments shall be collected and forwarded by the appropriate agency to the Clerk of the Court each time the amount in plaintiff's account exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee is paid in full. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).
The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) & (2).
A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). The court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis. See Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989); Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.
Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "requires only'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to'give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, ___, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). However, in order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim a complaint must contain more than "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action;" it must contain factual allegations sufficient "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic, 127 S.Ct. at 1965. In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Rex Hospital Trustees, 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976), construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969).
The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides as follows: 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 action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.
42 U.S.C. § 1983. The statute requires that there be an actual connection or link between the actions of the defendants and the deprivation alleged to have been suffered by plaintiff. See Monell v. Department of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976). "A person'subjects' another to the deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of § 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made." Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978).
Moreover, supervisory personnel are generally not liable under § 1983 for the actions of their employees under a theory of respondeat superior and, therefore, when a named defendant holds a supervisorial position, the causal link between him and the claimed constitutional violation must be specifically alleged. See Fayle v. Stapley, 607 F.2d 858, 862 (9th Cir. 1979); Mosher v. Saalfeld, 589 F.2d 438, 441 (9th Cir. 1978). Vague and conclusory allegations concerning the involvement of official personnel in civil rights violations are not sufficient. See Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).
In the present case, plaintiff has identified as defendants Dr. Steevers, Dr. Sabin, Nurse Jane Doe 3, Correctional Officer Azevedo, Correctional Sergeant John Doe 5, Correctional Officer Coleman, Custody Counselor John Doe 7, Correctional Officer Rosales, Clinician Werth, Clinician Durbin, former Warden Sue Hubbard, Warden Mike Knowles, Dr. John Doe 11, Dr. John Doe 12, and Dr. Liou. Aside from former Warden Hubbard, all of the defendants appear to be employed at California Medical Facility ("CMF"). (Compl. at 2-7.)
Plaintiff's complaint alleges as follows. In November 2005, plaintiff was incarcerated at CSP-Los Angeles. While playing softball, a fellow inmate "ran over" him injuring his arm. CSP-Los Angeles did not have a working x-ray machine, so plaintiff only received an arm sling with instructions not to move his left elbow. Subsequently, plaintiff transferred to CMF where medical staff took an x-ray of his left elbow revealing that plaintiff had suffered a fracture. (Compl. at 7-8.)
Plaintiff alleges that defendants have repeatedly denied him adequate medical care at CMF. In addition to his fractured elbow, plaintiff claims that he suffered a knee injury while playing basketball and a neck injury after falling from his upper bunk. Plaintiff claims that he informed defendants of his injuries as well as the pain that he was experiencing. He also repeatedly requested a lower-bunk chrono after falling from his upper bunk on several other occasions, injuring his back, right shin and right groin. Plaintiff alleges that the defendants often ignored his medical needs and only provided him with a knee sleeve, occasional pain medication and encouraged him to do physical therapy. (Compl. at 8-13.)
Plaintiff alleges that when he finally underwent an MRI for his knee he learned that he had a torn meniscus. The surgeon informed him that his ACL was forever stretched, so his knee would be susceptible to future injury. The surgeon also told plaintiff that arthritis had developed behind the knee cap. Plaintiff alleges that his right knee is still unstable and that he is in perpetual pain. (Compl. at 14-20.)
Plaintiff also claims that when his neck was finally x-rayed, he learned that he suffered from a narrowing of discs C5-6 and C6-7. He received epidural injections for his neck pain as well as surgery at UCSF to remove the discs. Plaintiff alleges that he still experiences pain behind his left shoulder and loss of mobility in his neck. He also ...