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Prophet v. Clark

October 14, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge


Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se in this civil rights action. The matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302.

I. Procedural History

This action proceeds on the September 28, 2010, third amended complaint. Plaintiff, an inmate in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (CDCR) at the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility at Corcoran (SATF), brings this civil rights action against defendant correctional officials employed by the CDCR at SATF. The third amended complaint is filed in response to earlier orders dismissing the first and second amended complaints for failure to allege facts sufficient to state a claim for relief.

II. Third Amended Complaint

Plaintiff names the following individual defendants: Ken Clark, Warden at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility at Corcoran (SATF); W. S. Wadkins, Facility Captain on B yard at SATF; Facility Captain S. Frauenheim; Acting Facility Captain W. Costell; Correctional Counselor F. C. Coreno; Correctional Counselor J. Zamora; Correctional Counselor A.C. King; Correctional Counselor V. Wiggins; Correctional Counselor S. Alvia; Correctional Counselor J. S. Spoere; Correctional Counselor R. A. Moreno; Correctional Officer Rasey; Dr. M. Horentsen, D.O.; Doe defendants.

Plaintiff's allegations stem from a prison disturbance that occurred on March 6, 2004, and his classification as a mobility impaired inmate. Custody staff ordered all inmates to get down on their knees and lay on their stomachs. As Plaintiff was getting down, he felt severe pain in his knees. Plaintiff remained in this position for "more than two to three hours," suffering even more pain. (Am. Compl. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff was handcuffed behind his back by custody staff "in such a way that it caused severe pain in his shoulders." (Am. Compl. ¶ 21.) An x-ray and MRI indicated that Plaintiff's knees and shoulders were "damaged, although Plaintiff has since been reclassified as permanently mobility impaired, however, as a matter of deliberate indifference Plaintiff has been denied of adequate medical treatment for his injuries sustained in violation of Eight and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution." (Am. Compl. ¶ 22.)

III. Analysis

Under the Eighth Amendment, the government has an obligation to provide medical care to those who are incarcerated. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1131 (9th Cir. 2000). "In order to violate the Eighth Amendment proscription against cruel and unusual punishment, there must be a 'deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners.'" Id. (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97. 104 (1976)). Lopez takes a two-prong approach to evaluating whether medical care, or lack thereof, rises to the level of "deliberate indifference." First, a court must examine whether the plaintiff's medical needs were serious. See Id. Second, a court must determine whether "officials intentionally interfered with [the plaintiff's] medical treatment." Id. at 1132.

To state a claim under section 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, 442 F.3d at 1185. "A person deprives another of a constitutional right, where that person 'does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts, or omits to perform an act which [that person] is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made." Hydrick v. Hunter, 500 F.3d 978, 988 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 9th Cir. 1978)). "[T]he 'requisite causal connection can be established not only by some kind of direct, personal participation in the deprivation, but also by setting in motion a series of acts by others which the actors knows or reasonably should know would cause others to inflict the constitutional injury.'" Id. (quoting Johnson at 743.44).

"'[B]are assertions... amount[ing] to nothing more than a "formulaic recitation of the elements" of a constitutional discrimination claim,' for the purposes of ruling on a motion to dismiss, [and thus also for screening] are not entitled to an assumption of truth." Moss v. U.S. Secret Service ___ F.3d ___, 2009 WL 2052985, *5, (9th Cir. 2009) quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ___ U.S. ___, 126 S.Ct. 1937, 1951 (2009) quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "Such allegations are not to be discounted because they are 'unrealistic or nonsensical,' but rather because they do nothing more than state a legal conclusion-even if that conclusion is cast in the form of a factual allegation." Id.

A. Supervisory Defendants

Plaintiff names as Defendants Warden Clark and Acting Facility Captain Wadkins. In the August 27, 2010, order dismissing the second amended complaint, Plaintiff was advised that 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 norespondeatsuperiorliability, and each defendant is only liable for his or her own misconduct. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1948-49 (2009). 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 (9th Cir. 2009); Preschooler II v. Clark County School Board of Trustees, 479 F.3d 1175, 1182 (9th Cir. 2007); Harris v. Roderick, 126 F.3d 1189, 1204 (9th Cir. 1997).

Plaintiff alleges no facts indicating that either of the supervisory defendants personally participated in the deprivation at issue, or knew of and failed to prevent the deprivation at issue. In the third amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Clark, as Warden, should be considered liable as he is "considered over all head security." As to Defendant Wadkins, Plaintiff appears to challenge a classification decision by Defendant Wadkins. Plaintiff fails to allege any facts indicating that either Wadkins or Clark personally ...

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