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William Cecil Thornton v. Matthew Cate

February 23, 2011

WILLIAM CECIL THORNTON,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
MATTHEW CATE, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Janis L. SammartinoUnited States District Judge

COMPLAINT FOR FAILING TO STATE A CLAIM PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) & 1915A(b)

ORDER SUA SPONTE DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED

I.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On July 27, 2010, Plaintiff, William Cecil Thornton, a state prisoner currently incarcerated at the California Correctional Institution located in Tehachapi, California and proceeding pro se, filed a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleged that his constitutional rights were violated when he was housed at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility ("RJD") in 2008. (See Compl. at 1.)

Plaintiff did not prepay the $350 civil filing fee required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a); instead he filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) [Doc. No. 2], as well as a Motion for Appointment of Counsel [Doc. No. 5]. On September 16, 2010, the Court granted Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP, denied Plaintiff's Motion for Appointment of Counsel and dismissed his Complaint for failing to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. See Sept. 16, 2010 Order at 7-8. Plaintiff was granted leave to file an Amended Complaint in order to correct the deficiencies of pleading identified by the Court. Id. Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint ("FAC") on November 5, 2010. In his FAC, Plaintiff no longer names Matthew Cate, Richard Hernandez or George Neotti as Defendants. Thus, these Defendants are dismissed from this action. See King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987).

II.

SUA SPONTE SCREENING PER 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) AND § 1915A

A. Standard

As stated in the Court's previous Order, the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") obligates the Court to review complaints filed by all persons proceeding IFP and by those, like Plaintiff, who are "incarcerated or detained in any facility [and] accused of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the terms or conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or diversionary program," "as soon as practicable after docketing." See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b). Under these provisions, the Court must sua sponte dismiss any IFP or prisoner complaint, or any portion thereof, which is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim, or which seeks damages from defendants who are immune. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and § 1915A; Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (§ 1915(e)(2)); Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 446 (9th Cir. 2000) (§ 1915A).

Before amendment by the PLRA, the former 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d) permitted sua sponte dismissal of only frivolous and malicious claims. Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1126, 1130. An action is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in either law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989). However 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A now mandate that the court reviewing an IFP or prisoner's suit make and rule on its own motion to dismiss before effecting service of the Complaint by the U.S. Marshal pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 4(c)(2). Id. at 1127 ("[S]section 1915(e) not only permits, but requires a district court to dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint that fails to state a claim."); see also Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A).

"[W]hen determining whether a complaint states a claim, a court must accept as true all allegations of material fact and must construe those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Resnick, 213 F.3d at 447; Barren, 152 F.3d at 1194 (noting that § 1915(e)(2) "parallels the language of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)"). In addition, the Court's duty to liberally construe a pro se's pleadings, see Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dept., 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988), is "particularly important in civil rights cases." Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1261 (9th Cir.1992).

B. Eighth Amendment claims

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Picatoste, a nurse at RJD, refused to provide him with medical care and that the injury to his back did not "warrant medical care." (See FAC at 3.) "The unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain upon incarcerated individuals under color of law constitutes a violation of the Eighth Amendment." Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1056-57 (9th Cir. 2004) (citing McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1992)). A violation of the Eighth Amendment occurs when ...


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