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Deadmon v. Grannis

July 17, 2009

RELAUN V. DEADMON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
N. GRANNIS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER REQUIRING PLAINTIFF EITHER TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT OR TO NOTIFY COURT OF WILLINGNESS TO PROCEED ONLY ON CLAIMS FOUND TO BE COGNIZABLE (Doc. 1) RESPONSE DUE WITHIN 30 DAYS

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Relaun V. Deadmon ("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 in the Sacramento Division, Eastern District of California District Court on May 29, 2007. The case was transferred to the Fresno Division on June 27, 2007. Plaintiff is in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and is incarcerated at California State Prison at Corcoran ("Corcoran"). Plaintiff alleges a violation of the Eighth Amendment against N. Grannis (Chief of the Inmate Appeals Branch), M. Hodges-Wilkins (Appeals Examiner), Dr. William McGuinness (Chief Medical Officer at Corcoran), and Lana Schultz (Registered Dietician at Corcoran). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff will be given the opportunity to amend his complaint, or proceed only on the claims found cognizable in this order.

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. Plaintiff's Claims

A. Summary of Complaint

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have failed to provide him with a doctor-ordered medical diet, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. In July 2005, Plaintiff was diagnosed with severe kidney failure by a nephrologist, who ordered a low protein, low sodium diet for Plaintiff. The medical diet request was approved by the prison a couple of months later.*fn1 On June 13, 2006, a nephrologist again ordered a low protein, low sodium diet for Plaintiff. On June 19, 2006, the request for a special medical diet was approved by Nurse Practitioner Thomas, and the Chief Medical Officer at the Calipatria State Prison ("Calipatria") signed the chrono. However, Calipatria was unable to provide Plaintiff with the medical diet, thus Plaintiff was transferred to Corcoran State Prison ("Corcoran"), where he could be provided with the medical diet.*fn2

On September 6, 2006, Plaintiff received a communication from Defendant L. Schultz, Registered Dietician at Corcoran, who advised Plaintiff to seek a transfer from Corcoran. On September 9, 2006, Plaintiff turned in a medical request slip, inquiring about the status of the medical diet that he had been ordered. On September 14, 2006, Plaintiff received another communication from Defendant Schultz who informed him that he had to go to the Segregated Housing Unit to receive the medical diet.

On September 29, 2006, Plaintiff consulted Nurse Practitioner Loadholt, who confirmed that Plaintiff should receive the medical diet that he had been ordered. On October 3, 2006, Plaintiff received another communication from Defendant Schultz, who advised Plaintiff to eat only half of the protein in his meals. Plaintiff received four medical meals. On October 6, 2006, Defendant Schultz informed Plaintiff that he would no longer be receiving a medical diet.

Plaintiff filed an inmate appeal regarding the denial of medical diet, but it was denied at every level. On December 29, 2006, Defendant McGuiness denied Plaintiff's appeal. On April 9, 2007, Defendants Hodges-Wilkins and Grannis denied Plaintiff's appeal.

Plaintiff seeks damages and equitable relief. Plaintiff seeks to receive the medical diet, to be transferred to a different institution, and to have Defendants dismissed from their positions.

B. Eighth Amendment: Inadequate Medical Care

Where a prisoner's Eighth Amendment claim is one of inadequate medical care, the prisoner must allege and prove "acts or omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to serious medical needs." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. at 106. Such a claim has two elements: "the seriousness of the prisoner's medical need and the nature of the defendant's response to that need." McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir.1991). A medical need is serious "if the failure to treat the prisoner's condition could result in ...


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