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Nieves v. Patrick

July 6, 2009


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


I. Screening Order

Sandi Nieves ("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 her original complaint on December 13, 2007. (Doc. 1.) The Court dismissed Plaintiff's original complaint with leave to amend on February 9, 2009, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. (Doc. 23.) Plaintiff filed her first amended complaint on March 2, 2009. (Doc. 24.) Plaintiff's first amended complaint is presently before the Court for screening.

A. Screening Requirement

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 Complaint

Plaintiff is currently housed at Central California Women's Facility ("CCWF") in Chowchilla, California, where the events giving rise to this action allegedly occurred. Plaintiff names as defendants: Warden Deborah Patrick, Associate Director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR") Wendy Stills, and Secretary of CDCR James E. Tilton. Plaintiff names in the body of her complaint C/O Cardenas, C/O Shannon, Dr. Riviera, and Dr. Donahue. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief.

Plaintiff accuses CCWF prison officials of violating her First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Plaintiff lists dates and instances on which certain events occurred that indicate alleged constitutional violations.

A. Section 1983 Linkage Requirement

To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that (1) the defendant acted under color of state law and (2) the defendant deprived him of rights secured by the Constitution or federal law. Long v. County of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006). Although Plaintiff names the Warden of Central California Women's Facility, the Secretary of CDCR, and the Associate Director of CDCR as defendants, Plaintiff's allegations do not link any acts or omissions of these defendants to a violation of her rights under federal law. Accordingly, plaintiff fails to state any claims upon which relief may be granted under § 1983.

In addition, under § 1983, liability may not be imposed on supervisory personnel for the actions of their employees under a theory of respondeat superior. When the named defendant holds a supervisorial position, the causal link between the defendant 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), cert. denied, 442 U.S. 941 (1979). To state a claim for relief under section 1983 for supervisory liability, plaintiff must allege some facts indicating that the defendant either: personally participated in the alleged deprivation of constitutional rights; knew of the violations and failed to act to prevent them; or promulgated or "implemented a policy so deficient that the policy 'itself is a repudiation of constitutional rights' and is 'the moving force of the constitutional violation.'" Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 646 (9th Cir. 1989) (internal citations omitted); Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). "Absent vicarious liability, each Government official . . . is liable only for his or her own misconduct." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Mere knowledge of a subordinate's alleged misconduct is insufficient. Id.

B. Constitutional Claims

Plaintiff alleges several instances of alleged constitutional violations: 1) on March 4, 2007, C/O Cardenas physically attacked Plaintiff for no reason; 2) on April 1, 2007, C/O Cardenas physically abused Plaintiff; 3) on April 4, 2007, C/O Cardenas handcuffed Plaintiff to the wrist bone; 4) on September 23, 2008, C/O Shannon cuffed Plaintiff at the wrist bone. (Doc. 24, Pl.'s First Am. Compl. 4.) Plaintiff also alleges that: 1) in 2006, Plaintiff was harassed by nurses regarding medications; 2) August 7, 2007, Dr. Riviera violated medical confidentiality; 3) June 20, 2008, Dr. Donahue denied mental health counseling; 4) May 15, 2006, Plaintiff almost died from over-medication, but there was no doctor in the emergency room; 5) January 2008, Plaintiff does not have medication readily available because she is always having to fill out co- pays; 6) May 22, 2008, Plaintiff was not protected from an EOP ...

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