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Wolfe v. Purcell

May 4, 2010

WADE LEE WOLFE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PURCELL, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Craig M. Kellison United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff is a county jail inmate who is proceeding pro se with this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and no other party has been served or appeared in the action. Pending before the court is Plaintiff's second amended complaint (Doc. 11).*fn1

The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if it: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Moreover, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that complaints contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). This means that claims must be stated simply, concisely, and directly. See McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996) (referring to Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(e)(1)). These rules are satisfied if the complaint gives the defendant fair notice of the plaintiff's claim and the grounds upon which it rests. See Kimes v. Stone, 84 F.3d 1121, 1129 (9th Cir. 1996). Because plaintiff must allege with at least some degree of particularity overt acts by specific defendants which support the claims, vague and conclusory allegations fail to satisfy this standard. Additionally, it is impossible for the court to conduct the screening required by law when the allegations are vague and conclusory.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff's first amended complaint was dismissed as it failed to name a proper defendant and failed to allege sufficient facts related to any defendant. He has attempted to cure those defects in his second amended complaint, but the second amended complaint also suffers from defects. Plaintiff's first amended complaint named only two defendants, Purcell and the Solano County Sheriff's Department. In his second amended complaint, he now names the following defendants: the California Forensic Medical Group, Inc.; Solano County Jail Medical Department; Solano County Sheriff Coroner's Office Custody Division; Ravinder Kadervari, M.D.; Katrina Purcell, R.N.; Kate Cordero, R.N.; P.A. Cory; Cpt. Bevins; Lt. Marsh; Sgt. Campbell; Sgt. Jorgensen; and Deputy Riojas-Gaxiola. While Plaintiff now names individuals as defendants, his allegations continue to be vague. In addition, his second amended complaint, which consists of over 120 pages including his exhibits violates Rule 8's requirements of a short concise statement of his claim. Plaintiff will be provided one more opportunity to cure some of the defects in his complaint, as discussed below.

II. PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff's alleges in his second amended complaint that he has suffered from severe deprivation and deliberate indifference to his medical needs by the medical department at the Solano County Jail.*fn2 He claims the defendants have intentionally delayed, denied, deprived and interfered with his medical treatment. He makes several vague and conclusory statements regarding the lack of treatment he has been subjected to during the time he has been in custody. He appears to be complaining about the lack of medical treatment for his seizures, a lump in his neck and hemorrhoids. He purports to give examples of how his medical treatment has been insufficient, but the examples he gives are insufficient to cure the defects noted herein. He claims receipt of his seizure medication was delayed for four months despite Chief Medical Director Kadervari knowing he needed the medication. He also appears to claim that in addition to Dr. Kadervari, Nurse Purcell, "along with other authorities and medical staff" knew of his condition. He also continues to refer to his inmate grievances to which Dr. Kadervari and nurse Purcell responded.

As to the correctional staff, Plaintiff makes conclusory allegations, such as defendants Riojas-Gaxiola and Jorgensen knowing about the lack of treatment and refusing to remedy it. He also claims the named defendants "have all been made aware of my diognosis [sic] and all partys [sic] showed and continue to show me delibrate [sic] indifference." (Am. Comp. at 8).

III. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff was informed by the court in the previous order what was required to state a claim for depravation of medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiff must allege an actual connection or link between the actions of the named defendants and the alleged deprivations. See Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976). "A person 'subjects' another to the deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of § 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts, or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made." Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). Vague and conclusory allegations concerning the involvement of official personnel in civil rights violations are not sufficient. See Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). Rather, the plaintiff must set forth specific facts as to each individual defendant's causal role in the alleged constitutional deprivation. See Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988).

The treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which the prisoner is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. See Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993); Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). The Eighth Amendment ". . . embodies broad and idealistic concepts of dignity, civilized standards, humanity, and decency." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102 (1976). Conditions of confinement may, however, be harsh and restrictive. See Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981). Nonetheless, prison officials must provide prisoners with "food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, medical care, and personal safety." Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1107 (9th Cir. 1986). A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only when two requirements are met: (1) objectively, the official's act or omission must be so serious such that it results in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities; and (2) subjectively, the prison official must have acted unnecessarily and wantonly for the purpose of inflicting harm. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. Thus, to violate the Eighth Amendment, a prison official must have a "sufficiently culpable mind." See id.

Deliberate indifference to a prisoner's serious illness or injury, or risks of serious injury or illness, gives rise to a claim under the Eighth Amendment. See Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105; see also Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. This applies to physical as well as dental and mental health needs. See Hoptowit v. Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1253 (9th Cir. 1982). An injury or illness is sufficiently serious if the failure to treat a prisoner's condition could result in further significant injury or the ". . . unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain." McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1992); see also Doty v. County of Lassen, 37 F.3d 540, 546 (9th Cir. 1994). Factors indicating seriousness are: (1) whether a reasonable doctor would think that the condition is worthy of comment; (2) whether the condition significantly impacts the prisoner's daily activities; and (3) whether the condition is chronic and accompanied by substantial pain. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1131-32 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

The requirement of deliberate indifference is less stringent in medical needs cases than in other Eighth Amendment contexts because the responsibility to provide inmates with medical care does not generally conflict with competing penological concerns. See McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1060. Thus, deference need not be given to the judgment of prison officials as to decisions concerning medical needs. See Hunt v. Dental Dep't, 865 F.2d 198, 200 (9th Cir. 1989). The complete denial of medical attention may constitute deliberate indifference. See Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1111 (9th Cir. 1986). Delay in providing medical treatment, or interference with medical treatment, may also constitute deliberate ...


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