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Valdez v. One Unknown Named Medical Technical Assistant of the California State Prison-Sacramento

August 26, 2009

RICARDO VALDEZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ONE UNKNOWN NAMED MEDICAL TECHNICAL ASSISTANT OF THE CALIFORNIA STATE PRISON-SACRAMENTO, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David Alan Ezra United States District Judge

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915

On August 22, 2008, Plaintiff Ricardo Valdez proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this prisoner civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Valdez alleges that an unknown Defendant ("Jane Doe") at the Mule Creek State Prison was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. Because there are several deficiencies with the complaint, it is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915(A)(b)(1), with leave granted to amend.

I. BACKGROUND

On April 17, 2006, Valdez informed Officer Walker that he was having chest pains, shortness of breath, and that his hand was going numb. He was placed in handcuffs and escorted down the hall, where he collapsed. Valdez was taken to the infirmary on a gurney. While en route, Valdez suffered a heart attack.

Valdez later discovered that there is a prison policy that is designed to ensure that there is a vehicle designated for transporting inmates from the Stand Alone Unit (where Valdez was housed) to the infirmary in cases of emergency. Valdez alleges that Jane Doe told Sergeant Nielson that, although Valdez needed to be escorted due to an emergency, no transportation was available. Valdez alleges that if Jane Doe had him transported via vehicle rather than on foot via gurney, he would have arrived at the infirmary faster and he would not have had a heart attack. He seeks monetary damages in the sum on $150,000.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or an employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if a plaintiff raises claims that are legally frivolous, malicious, or 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). If the court determines that a pleading could be cured by the allegation of other facts, a pro se litigant is entitled to an opportunity to amend a complaint before dismissal of the action. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127-29 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

The court should not, however, advise the litigant how to cure the defects. This type of advice "would undermine district judges' role as impartial decisionmakers." Pliler v. Ford, 542 U.S. 225, 231 (2004); see also Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1131 n.13 (declining to decide whether the court was required to inform the litigant of deficiencies).

A complaint must contain more than a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action;" it must contain factual allegations sufficient to "raise a right of relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "The pleading must contain something more . . . than . . . a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action." Id. (citation omitted). In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question. Hosp. Bldg. Co. v. Rex Hosp. Trs., 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976). The court must also construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969).

When a plaintiff appears pro se, as Valdez does in this action, the court has an obligation to construe the plaintiff's complaint liberally. See Bernhardt v. Los Angeles County, 339 F.3d 920, 925 (9th Cir. 2003); Jackson v. Carey, 353 F.3d 750, 757 (9th Cir. 2003) (same). "A pro se litigant must be given leave to amend his or her complaint unless it is 'absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by amendment.'" Id. (quoting Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987), superceded by statute, Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-30 (9th Cir. 2000).

III. DISCUSSION

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated; and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). Valdez claims that on April 17, 2006, Jane Doe acted with deliberate indifference to Valdez's serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

A. Deliberate Indifference

To state a claim for violation of the Eighth Amendment for failure to provide medical care, a prisoner must show that prison officials acted with deliberate indifference to his or her serious medical needs. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). Deliberate indifference requires that a prison official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994). The official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists and he must also draw the inference. Id. Furthermore, a plaintiff must demonstrate that "failure to treat a prisoner's condition could result in further significant injury or the 'unnecessary and wanton infliction of ...


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