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Spencer v. Kern County

November 24, 2010


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


Screening Order

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in 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)(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 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).

Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions," none of which applies to § 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema, N.A., 534 U.S. 506 (512) (2002). Pursuant to 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). "Such a statement must simply give defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Swierkewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of the cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (209), citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "Plaintiff must set forth sufficient factual matter accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949, quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.

Although accepted as true, "[f]actual allegations must be [sufficient] to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). A plaintiff must set forth "the grounds of his entitlement to relief,'" which "requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Id. at 555-56 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). To adequately state a claim against a defendant, a plaintiff must set forth the legal and factual basis for his claim.

II. Plaintiff's Claims

The events at issue in this action occurred at the Kern County Detention Facility. Plaintiff, currently in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation at Wasco State Prison, brings this civil rights action against Kern County defendants for conduct that occurred while Plaintiff was in the custody of the Kern County Sheriff's Department. Plaintiff claims that Kern County Sheriff's officials were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Plaintiff names the following defendants: Kern County; Kern County Sheriff's Department Detention Facilities; Kern County Medical Staff.

Plaintiff was transferred to the custody of the Kern County Sheriff's Department from Wasco State Prison to participate in a 60 day drug treatment program offered by the Kern County Sheriff's Department. (Compl. 1:19.) Prior to his transfer to Kern County custody, Plaintiff was treated for weight loss. Specifically, prison medical officials ordered that Plaintiff be provided with dietary supplements. Plaintiff, who at one point weighed 140 pounds , was advised that his normal weight should be 180 pounds. (Compl. 1:11.) Plaintiff was also receiving Motrin for an arthritic condition.

At some point in 2008, Plaintiff was transferred to Kern County custody. Plaintiff alleges transfer dates of October 23, 2008 (Compl. 1:21) and November 23, 2008 (Compl. 2:13.) Plaintiff's medical file was sent with Plaintiff. When he was received into Kern County custody, Plaintiff underwent a health screening by the reception nurse. Plaintiff "expressed his medical concerns and that I had been under Dr. Sheela care arriving at the Kern County Facility from Wasco State Prison R/C." (Compl. 3:5.)

Plaintiff alleges that when he was received into Kern County custody, he weighed 156 pounds. (Compl. 3:15.) On November 26, 2008, Plaintiff was summoned to "Kern Co. Medical Services Staff." Plaintiff was seen by medical staff. Plaintiff's weight was to be monitored for 4 weeks. (Compl. 4:17.) On December 27, 2008, Plaintiff filed a grievance. Plaintiff does not indicate what, specifically, he was complaining about. On December 28, 2008, the grievance was answered and Plaintiff "was given an appt. to discuss the disposition of 4 week evaluation of Plaintiff's dietary supplement and arthritic pain in knees and hip." (Compl. 4:25.)

Plaintiff was prescribed medication for his arthritis, but not dietary supplements. Plaintiff's request for dietary supplements was denied by "medical staff." (Comp. 5:9.) Instead, a multivitamin was prescribed, along with a supplementary sandwich at breakfast and at the evening meal. (Compl. 5:14.) Plaintiff alleges that each meal supplement only contained 150 calories (Compl. 7:12.) Plaintiff alleges that the failure to ...

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