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Williams v. Harrington

October 28, 2010

TASHION WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
KELLY HARRINGTON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



ORDER DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND, FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM (Doc. 1) THIRTY-DAY DEADLINE

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Tashion Williams is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The complaint in this action was filed on December 30, 2009. (Doc. 1.)

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 "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted," or that "seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C § 1915(e)(2)(B).

In determining whether a complaint states a claim, the Court looks to the pleading standard under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Under 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)(2). "[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require 'detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. V. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007)). "[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Further, although a court must accept as true all factual allegations contained in a complaint, a court need not accept a plaintiff's legal conclusions as true. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

II. Complaint Allegations

Plaintiff is in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and is incarcerated at Calipatria State Prison. The incidents in the complaint occurred while he was housed at Kern Valley State Prison ("Kern Valley"). Plaintiff alleges that on December 11, 2008, he wore a pair of underwear that had been laundered in the prison laundry. He allegedly developed painful blisters from a reaction to the chemical used to wash the clothing. Plaintiff called to the tower officer, Quirno, who allowed Plaintiff out of his cell to talk to medical staff. (Doc. 1, § IV.)

According to the complaint, Plaintiff told Quirno that the injured areas were getting worse and it felt as if his skin was being burned off. Quirno informed Plaintiff that he had contacted medical staff and explained to them the severity of Plaintiff's injuries. Plaintiff alleges that Quirno told the medical staff that the injury appeared to be serious and very painful. (Id., p. 4.)

After several hours, Plaintiff was suffering from severe, extremely painful burns, to the point that he was unable to get up. Plaintiff alleges that medical staff member Treadwell responded after making her regular rounds, refused to assess Plaintiff's injury, and gave him a "sick-call" slip. Plaintiff states he suffered for several days from severe pain and discomfort in the groin, testicle, buttocks, and thigh area without medical care or treatment, causing him to have difficulty ambulating and sitting. (Id.)

Plaintiff names Defendants Harrington and Kern Valley Medical Staff, however, fails to set forth the relief requested in his complaint. For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that the complaint fails to state a cognizable claim for relief.

III. Discussion

A. Eighth Amendment Medical Care

"[T]o maintain an Eighth Amendment claim based on prison medical treatment, an inmate must show "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.'" Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976)). The two part test for deliberate indifference requires the plaintiff to show (1) "a 'serious medical need' by demonstrating that failure to treat a prisoner's condition could result in further significant injury or the 'unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain,'" and (2) "the defendant's response to the need was deliberately indifferent." Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096 (quoting McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050 (9th Cir. 1991), overruled on other grounds, WMX Techs., Inc. v. Miller, 104 F.3d 1133 (9th Cir. 1997) (en banc)).

Deliberate indifference is shown where there was "a purposeful act or failure to respond to a prisoner's pain or possible medical need" and the indifference caused harm. Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096. "Deliberate indifference is a high legal standard." Toguchi v. Chung, 291 F.3d 1051, 1060 (9th Cir. 2004). The prison official must be aware of facts from which he could make an inference that "a substantial ...


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