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Hill v. Mims

December 22, 2009

RAYMOND HILL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SHERIFF MARGRETT MIMS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER REQUIRING PLAINTIFF TO EITHER FILE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT OR NOTIFY COURT OF WILLINGNESS TO PROCEED ONLY ON CLAIM FOUND TO BE COGNIZABLE, WITHIN THIRTY DAYS (Doc. 3)

Screening Order

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Raymond Hill, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on July 13, 2009. On the same day, Plaintiff submitted an amended complaint. A complaint must be complete within itself without reference to other pleadings, and the submission of the amended complaint superceded the original complaint. Forsyth v. Humana, Inc., 114 F.3d 1467, 1474 (9th Cir. 1997); King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987); Local Rule 220. Therefore, only the amended complaint will be considered by the Court.

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).

Under federal notice pleading, 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)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice," Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007)), and courts "are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences," Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Factual allegations are accepted as true but legal conclusion are not, and Plaintiff is required to present factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal at 1949-50; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Iqbal at 1949-50; Moss at 969.

II. Plaintiff's Claims

A. Claim Against Defendant Ah and Jail Staff

Plaintiff alleges that on February 26, 2009, while he was housed at the Fresno County Jail, he was seen by Defendant Ah, a physician, for severe lower back pain. Defendant Ah felt Plaintiff's lower back, and then grabbed and fondled Plaintiff's genitals, which Plaintiff alleges had nothing to do with his lower lumbar or nerve problems. Plaintiff terminated the visit and filed a grievance.

The Eighth Amendment protects prisoners from inhumane methods of punishment and from inhumane conditions of confinement.*fn1 Morgan v. Morgensen, 465 F.3d 1041, 1045 (9th Cir. 2006). Extreme deprivations are required to make out a conditions of confinement claim, and only those deprivations denying the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities are sufficiently grave to form the basis of an Eighth Amendment violation. Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 9, 112 S.Ct. 995 (1992) (citations and quotations omitted). In order to state a claim for violation of the Eighth Amendment, the plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to support a claim that prison officials knew of and disregarded a substantial risk of serious harm to the plaintiff. E.g., Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 847, 114 S.Ct. 1970 (1994); Frost v. Agnos, 152 F.3d 1124, 1128 (9th Cir. 1998). The sexual abuse of an inmate by jail employee clearly violates the Eighth Amendment. Schwenk v. Hartford, 204 F.3d 1187, 1196-97 (9th Cir. 2000).

Plaintiff's allegations are sufficient to state a claim against Defendant Ah for violation of the Eighth Amendment. However, Plaintiff may not pursue a claim against "all jail medical staff." (Doc. 3, Amend. Comp., § III.) Plaintiff's amended complaint is limited to describing actions taken by Defendant Ah. Absent the presentation of facts attributing acts or omissions which violated Plaintiff's rights to other parties, Plaintiff may not pursue any additional claims for relief. Iqbal at 1949-50; Moss at 969. Further, in no event is a claim against a group such as "all jail medical staff" appropriate. Defendants may only be held liable under section 1983 based on their personal involvement in the violation of Plaintiff's rights, and supporting such a claim requires the presentation of facts identifying what each named defendant did or did not do that led to the violation of Plaintiff's rights. Id.

B. Claim Against Defendant Mims

Under section 1983, Plaintiff must prove that the defendants holding supervisory positions personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). There is no respondeat superior liability, and each defendant is only liable for his or her own misconduct. Iqbal at 1948-49. A supervisor may be held liable for the constitutional violations of his or her subordinates only if he or she "participated in or directed the violations, or knew of the violations and failed to act to prevent them." Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989); also Corales v. Bennett, 567 F.3d 554, 570 ...


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