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Ingram v. Brewer

January 12, 2009

JAMES INGRAM, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BREWER, ET AL., DEFENDANT.



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

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO FILE A THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT WITHIN THIRTY DAYS (Doc. 17)

I. Screening Order

Plaintiff James Ingram ("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 his original complaint on February 1, 2007. (Doc. 1.) On May 17, 2007, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's complain with leave to amend. (Doc. 10.) On June 26, 2007, Plaintiff filed his first amended complaint, (Doc. 12.) On February 4, 2008, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's first amended complaint with leave to amend. (Doc. 14.) On April 9, 2008, Plaintiff filed an "Amended Complaint," which the Court treats as a second amended complaint. (Doc. 17.) Plaintiff's second amended complaint is presently before the Court for screening.

A. Screening Standard

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 apply 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)).

B. Summary of Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint

Plaintiff is currently a state prisoner at California Rehabilitation Center for Males in Norco, California. Plaintiff was formerly imprisoned at Pleasant Valley State Prison ("PVSP") in Coalinga, California, where the acts he complains of occurred. Plaintiff names as defendants: MTA Brewer; Doe Director of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"); current Chief Medical Officer ("CMO") at PVSP; Secretary of CDCR; Registered Nurse F. Warden; Dr. F. Igbinosa, CMO at PVSP; Doe Correctional Officer at PVSP; Licensed Vocational Nurse D. Stephens; Doe Correctional Sergeant at PVSP; Doe Correctional Lieutenant at PVSP; Doe Warden at PVSP. Plaintiff also lists Does 1 through 5 as directors or acting directors of CDCR who are successors to the Director of CDCR as well as Does 6 through 20, who are responsible for the medical care of all inmates at PVSP. (Doc. 17, pp. 6:6-12:22.) Plaintiff also names PVSP as a defendant in the caption of his complaint. Though Plaintiff labels PVSP as a private corporation, it is a state-run facility.

Plaintiff alleges the following. Since December 2, 2005, Plaintiff has suffered mental and physical pain after CDCR medical staff injected Plaintiff with the wrong insulin medication. From December 2, 2005, to approximately February 2006, defendants have repeatedly delayed and refused to provide medical tests and treatment for Plaintiff's pain. (Doc. 17, pp. 12:23-13:15.) Plaintiff also alleges that he suffers from valley fever because of defendants' actions. (Id., p. 18:13-17.)

Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief, as well as trial by jury.

C. Discussion

1. Deliberate Indifference to A Serious Medical Need

Plaintiff alleges that defendants have repeatedly delayed and refused to provide medical tests and treatment for Plaintiff's pain. (Doc. 17, pp. 12:23-13:5.) A prisoner's claim of inadequate medical care does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment unless the mistreatment rises to the level of "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). The "deliberate indifference" standard involves an objective and a subjective prong. First, the alleged deprivation must be, in objective terms, "sufficiently serious." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994) (citing Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991)). Second, the prison official must act with a "sufficiently culpable state of mind," which entails more than mere negligence, but less than conduct undertaken for the very purpose of causing harm. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. at 837. A prison official does not act in a deliberately indifferent manner unless the official "knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety." Id.

In applying this standard, the Ninth Circuit has held that before it can be said that a prisoner's civil rights have been abridged, "the indifference to his medical needs must be substantial. Mere 'indifference,' 'negligence,' or 'medical malpractice' will not support this cause of action." Broughton v. Cutter Laboratories, 622 F.2d 458, 460 (9th Cir. 1980), citing Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105-06. "[A] complaint that a physician has been negligent in diagnosing or treating a medical condition does not state a valid claim of medical mistreatment under the Eighth Amendment. Medical malpractice does not become a constitutional violation merely because the victim is a prisoner." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. at 106; see also Anderson v. County of Kern, 45 F.3d 1310, 1316 (9th Cir. 1995); McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1050 (9th Cir. 1992), overruled on other grounds, WMX Techs., ...


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