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Dynes v. Fresno Detention Center Medical Staff Dep't

November 10, 2010

JOHN RAY DYNES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FRESNO DETENTION CENTER MEDICAL STAFF DEPARTMENT, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, WITH LEAVE TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS (Doc. 1)

Plaintiff John Ray Dynes ("Plaintiff") is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Fresno County Detention Facility at the time of the events described in his complaint. Plaintiff is suing under Section 1983 for the violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff names the "Fresno County Detention Center Medical Staff Department" as defendant ("Defendant"). For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that Plaintiff's complaint fails to state any cognizable claims. The Court will dismiss Plaintiff's complaint with leave to file an amended complaint which cures the deficiencies identified in this order.

I. Screening Requirement

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).

In determining whether a complaint fails to state a claim, the Court uses the same pleading standard used 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. 544, 555 (2007)). "[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "[A] complaint [that] pleads facts that are 'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability . . . 'stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). 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. Id. "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. Background

Plaintiff claims that there is a bullet stuck in his groin that has caused swelling and pain. Plaintiff alleges that he has filed numerous appeals requesting medical help. Plaintiff does not allege what response he got from the appeals, but concludes that his Eighth Amendment rights have been violated.

III. Discussion

Plaintiff claims that he is suffering pain from a bullet stuck in his groin. The Eighth Amendment*fn1 prohibits the imposition of cruel and unusual punishments and "embodies 'broad and idealistic concepts of dignity, civilized standards, humanity and decency.'" Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102 (1976) (quoting Jackson v. Bishop, 404 F.2d 571, 579 (8th Cir. 1968)). A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only when two requirements are met: (1) the objective requirement that the deprivation is "sufficiently serious," and (2) the subjective requirement that the prison official has a "sufficiently culpable state of mind." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994) (quoting Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991)).

The objective requirement that the deprivation be "sufficiently serious" is met where the prison official's act or omission results in the denial of "the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities." Id. (quoting Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981)). The subjective "sufficiently culpable state of mind" requirement is met when a prison official acts with "deliberate indifference" to inmate health or safety. Id. (quoting Wilson, 501 U.S. at 302-303). A prison official acts with deliberate indifference when he or she "knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety." Id. at 837. "[T]he 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.

"[D]eliberate indifference to a prisoner's serious illness or injury states a cause of action under § 1983." Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105. In order to state an Eighth Amendment claim based on deficient medical treatment, a plaintiff must show: (1) a serious medical need; and (2) a deliberately indifferent response by the defendant. Conn v. City of Reno, 572 F.3d 1047, 1055 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006)). A serious medical need is shown by alleging that the failure to treat the plaintiff's condition could result in further significant injury, or the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain. Id. A deliberately indifferent response by the defendant is shown by a purposeful act or failure to respond to a prisoner's pain or possible medical need and harm caused by the indifference. Id. In order to constitute deliberate indifference, there must be an objective risk of harm and the defendant must have subjective awareness of that harm. Id. However, "a complaint that a physician has been negligent in diagnosing or treating a medical condition does not state a valid claim of medical mistreatment under the Eighth Amendment. Medical malpractice does not become a constitutional violation merely because the victim is a prisoner." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). Isolated occurrences of neglect do not constitute deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. See Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006); McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1060 (9th Cir. 1992); O'Loughlin v. Doe, 920 F.2d 614, 617 (9th Cir. 1990).

Plaintiff has not described what response, if any, he received from his numerous requests for medical treatment. Plaintiff does not describe what treatment, if any, he received from jail officials or described how the treatment he received was deficient. Plaintiff has attached a copy of an inmate grievance to his complaint that states that he has been seen numerous times by medical staff and has never informed any staff members about a bullet. The grievance also indicates that Plaintiff has been receiving pain medication. Plaintiff does not identify what further medical treatment he needs. Further, Plaintiff has not alleged any facts regarding any jail official's deliberate indifference. Plaintiff has not alleged that any jail official was aware of an excessive risk of serious injury if Plaintiff did not receive medical treatment and deliberately disregarded that risk.

Plaintiff fails to state any cognizable claims under Section 1983. Plaintiff has not alleged how his medical treatment was deficient. Further, the Court notes that the only entity named as a defendant is the "Fresno Detention Center Medical Staff Department." Assuming that the department is a municipal entity, Plaintiff must allege facts that support liability under Monell. Under Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978), a municipality may be subject to suit under Section 1983 when the execution of the municipality's policy of custom inflicts an injury actionable under Section 1983. Monell, 436 U.S. at 694-95. Plaintiff has ...


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