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Lucas v. Corcoran State Prison

June 11, 2009

ISIAH LUCAS JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
CORCORAN STATE PRISON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND, FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM HEALTH CARE MANAGEMENT AT (Doc. 8) SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT DUE IN THIRTY (30) DAYS

Screening Order

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Isiah Lucas Jr. ("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 February 12, 2008. On September 26, 2008, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint with leave to amend, for failure to state any claims under federal law. (Doc. 6.) Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint on October 27, 2008, which is subject to the Court's screening below.

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. Summary of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint

Plaintiff is currently housed at Pleasant Valley State Prison ("P.V.S.P.") in Coalinga, California. The events at issue in this action occurred at California State Prison - Corcoran ("CSPCor") and at P.V.S.P.

Plaintiff alleges that on February 14, 2007, while incarcerated at CSP-Cor, he broke his prescription eyeglasses. Without eyeglasses, Plaintiff states that he is unable to see normally beyond three to four feet. While at CSP-Cor, Plaintiff repeatedly notified prison staff of his need for prescription eyeglasses, but was not seen by an optometrist. On April 10, 2007, Plaintiff was transferred to P.V.S.P. On May 3, 2007, Plaintiff filed a prison grievance addressed to the Chief Medical Officer at P.V.S.P. concerning Plaintiff's need for prescription eyeglasses. On July 5, 2007, Plaintiff filed an emergency grievance addressed to the Chief Medical Officer at P.V.S.P. requesting that he be treated, examined and fitted for eyeglasses. Plaintiff states that he did not receive new glasses until September 14, 2007. Plaintiff states that the delay in receiving an appointment with the optometrist and in receiving eyeglasses were the result of prison overcrowding and a backlog in the medical system, and alleges a claim for relief for violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution.*fn1

Plaintiff names as defendants i) Director of Corrections Mathew Cate; ii) Warden of P.V.S.P James A. Yates; iii) John Doe 2 (Chief Medical Officer at P.V.S.P.); iv) Warden at CSP-Cor D. Adams; v) John Doe 1 (Chief Medical Officer of CSP-Cor), and vi) "all others that is [sic] involved and have a legal responsibility/obligation of administering adequate medical care". Plaintiff seeks money damages and injunctive relief.

A. Defendants Cate, John Doe 1 (C.M.O. at CSP-Cor), Yates and Adams

"[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)).

"[T]he existence of an injury that a reasonable doctor would find important and worthy of comment or treatment,... the presence of a medical condition that significantly affects an individual's daily activities, and... the existence of chronic or substantial pain" are indications of a serious medical need. Doty v. County of Lassen, 37 F.3d 540, 546 n.3 (9th Cir. 1994) (citing McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059-1060 (9th Cir. 1992), overruled on other grounds, WMX Techs., Inc. v. Miller, 104 F.3d 1133, 1136 (9th Cir. 1997) (en banc)); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1131 (9th Cir. 2000).

"Deliberate indifference is a high legal standard." Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1060 (9th Cir. 2004). "Under this standard, the prison official must not only 'be aware of the facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists,' but that person 'must also draw the inference.'" Id. at 1057 (quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837). "'If a prison official should have been aware of the risk, but was not, then the official has not violated the Eighth ...


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