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Hunter v. Yates

January 30, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandra M. Snyder United States Magistrate Judge


(Doc. 21)


Findings and Recommendations Following Screening of Second Amended Complaint

I. Procedural History

Plaintiff Tremaine Hunter ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed this action in Fresno County Superior Court on November 29, 2006. On January 29, 2007, Defendants removed the action to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California.

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). "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)).

After screening the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint with leave to amend on February 1, 2007, for failure to state a claim. On February 26, 2007, Plaintiff filed a first amended complaint. The Court screened and dismissed Plaintiff's first amended complaint for failure to state a claim on December 1, 2008. Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's second amended complaint ("the complaint"), filed on January 5, 2009.

II. Plaintiff's Claims

A. Summary of the Complaint

Plaintiff is state prisoner housed at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, California (PVSP). Plaintiff alleges he contracted a disease commonly known as valley fever while incarcerated at PVSP. The complaint names PVSP's Warden, James Yates, and Chief Doctor, F. Igbinosa, as Defendants. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Yates and Defendant Igbinosa ("Defendants") were aware of an excessively high risk of contracting valley fever within PVSP and that Defendants were also aware that valley fever is potentially fatal. According to the complaint, Defendants ignored a memorandum from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) which requires the transfer of valley fever-prone prisoners, such as Plaintiff, from institutions where valley fever is common. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants were aware that Plaintiff was highly susceptible to contracting valley fever but ignored Plaintiff's administrative grievances and refused to transfer Plaintiff out of PVSP. Plaintiff contends that the Defendants' conduct violates Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights to humane conditions of confinement and adequate medical care. Plaintiff also seeks to raise a novel claim not previously raised in Plaintiff's earlier complaints. Plaintiff alleges that PVSP exposes Plaintiff to beverages containing the substance aspartame, which allegedly can cause a range of "serious medical conditions." Second Amended Complaint, p.11: 4-5.

B. Requests for Relief

1. Injunctive Relief

Plaintiff asks the Court to grant injunctive relief in the form of an order requiring the CDCR to "shutdown" PVSP. Second Amended Complaint, p.12: 26-28. Plaintiff also asks the Court to issue an order requiring the CDCR to place Plaintiff on single cell status for ...

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