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William Young Sutherland v. J. Clark Kelso

February 3, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandra M. SnyderUNITED States Magistrate Judge


Screening Order

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff William Young Sutherland, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on November 19, 2009. Plaintiff alleges a claim for relief against Defendants J. Clark Kelso, James Yates, F. Igbinosa, and Does 1-10 arising out of inadequate medical.

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).

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). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice," Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007)), and courts "are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences," Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.

Under section 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct at 1949-50; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

II. Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment Medical Care Claim

A. Summary of Allegations

Plaintiff was transferred to Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP) in Coalinga, California on January 13, 2009. Plaintiff suffers from a degenerative neck and back problem that is debilitating if not treated. Plaintiff's medications were started and stopped repeatedly following his arrival at PVSP, leaving Plaintiff to endure severe pain. On July 12, 2009, Plaintiff was trying to get up from bed when he experienced extreme pain shooting down his left arm. Plaintiff lost his grip due to the pain and fell from his upper bunk, cracking at least one rib and dislocating his shoulder in the fall. To date, Plaintiff has not been provided with pain medication adequate to address his medical needs or appropriate diagnostics and treatment for his dislocated shoulder.

Plaintiff also has a family history of cancer, and at the age of forty-eight, his request for appropriate testing for men over forty with a family history of cancer was granted at a different institution. At that time, Plaintiff's doctor also ordered an MRI with sedation. That order related to Plaintiff's neck and back problems and the MRI was to be compared with MRIs conducted in 2000. To date, Plaintiff has not received any testing relating to his family history of cancer, and although Plaintiff has been called numerous times for an MRI, no sedation has been offered and Plaintiff is unable to undergo an MRI without sedation due to claustrophobia.

Plaintiff alleges that these issues have been brought to the attention of Kelso, Yates, and Igbinosa, but no action has been taken to require the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and PVSP to comply with applicable court orders, federal law, and state law.

B. Legal Standard

To constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, prison conditions must involve "the wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain." Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347, 101 S.Ct. 2392 (1981). A prisoner's claim of inadequate medical care does not rise to the level of an Eighth Amendment violation unless (1) "the prison official deprived the prisoner of the 'minimal civilized measure of life's necessities,'" and (2) "the prison official 'acted with deliberate indifference in doing so.'" Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1057 (9th Cir. 2004) (quoting Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 744 (9th Cir. 2002) (citation omitted)). A prison official does not act in a ...

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