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Dwayne Eichler v. J. Tilton

April 14, 2011

DWAYNE EICHLER,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
J. TILTON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Craig M. Kellison United States Magistrate Judge

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court is plaintiff's amended complaint (Doc. 15).

The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if it: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Moreover, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that complaints contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). This means that claims must be stated simply, concisely, and directly. See McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996) (referring to Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(e)(1)). These rules are satisfied if the complaint gives the defendant fair notice of the plaintiff's claim and the grounds upon which it rests. See Kimes v. Stone, 84 F.3d 1121, 1129 (9th Cir. 1996). Because a plaintiff must allege with at least some degree of particularity overt acts by specific defendants which support the claims, vague and conclusory allegations fail to satisfy this standard. Additionally, it is impossible for the court to conduct the screening required by law when the allegations are vague and conclusory.

Plaintiff's original complaint was dismissed, with leave to amend, for failure to state his claims clearly and concisely, pursuant to Rule 8, as well as for failure to state a cognizable claim. Plaintiff was informed, in detail, of Rule 8's requirements and the need to allege an actual connection or link between the actions of the named defendants and the alleged constitutional deprivations. He was also informed as to what is required to state a claim for, inter alia, denial of medical treatment, and violation of his freedom of religion rights.

I. PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

In his amended complaint, plaintiff continues to make somewhat vague and general allegations about the lack of medical treatment he has received. For instance, he claims he sought medical care for severe stomach pains and rectal spasms, for which did not receive any treatment for more than 18 months , until he was sent to Manteca Hospital. However, plaintiff fails to identify who denied him such treatment. (See Am. Comp., Doc. 15, at 16). He also claims he was denied follow up medical treatment, as ordered by Dr. Tran. He again fails to state who denied him the treatment. (See id. at 185). Plaintiff's complaint states he has had on going medical deprivation dating back to 1989, covering two separate terms of incarceration. He also alleges he had a broken nose and blocked nasal passage which have not been fixed, but again fails to state who was responsible for such treatment. (See id. at 21). Those few instances he does identify individuals, his claims against those defendants are unclear.

Plaintiff also continues to allege he has been denied the ability to practice his religious beliefs. He states he is an anthroposophist, and has been denied the ability to practice his religious beliefs. (See id. at 22). However, he fails to state how he was so denied, such as how he was prevented from his religious practices. His statements that he was denied "religious supplies, sanctuaries, scheduling for religious duties and rights" is inadequate. Plaintiff was also previously fully informed as to what is required to state a claim for violation of his right to practice his religious beliefs. He has again failed to do so adequately. Finally, plaintiff apparently claims other alleged violations by the defendants, such as failure to provide for his safety, negligence, and overcrowding. However, he again fails to identify who violated his rights, and how.

II. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff was previously informed, in detail, how his complaint was inadequate and what was required to adequately state a claim. As to his medical claims, plaintiff was informed:

The treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which the prisoner is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. See Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993); Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). The Eighth Amendment "embodies broad and idealistic concepts of dignity, civilized standards, humanity, and decency." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102 (1976). Conditions of confinement may, however, be harsh and restrictive. See Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981). Nonetheless, prison officials must provide prisoners with "food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, medical care, and personal safety." Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1107 (9th Cir. 1986). A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only when two requirements are met: (1) objectively, the official's act or omission must be so serious such that it results in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities; and (2) subjectively, the prison official must have acted unnecessarily and wantonly for the purpose of inflicting harm. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. Thus, to violate the Eighth Amendment, a prison official must have a "sufficiently culpable mind." See id.

Deliberate indifference to a prisoner's serious illness or injury, or risks of serious injury or illness, gives rise to a claim under the Eighth Amendment. See Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105; see also Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. This applies to physical as well as dental and mental health needs. See Hoptowit v. Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1253 (9th Cir. 1982). An injury or illness is sufficiently serious if the failure to treat a prisoner's condition could result in further significant injury or the "unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain." McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1992); see also Doty v. County of Lassen, 37 F.3d 540, 546 (9th Cir. 1994). Factors indicating seriousness are: (1) whether a reasonable doctor would think that the condition is worthy of comment; (2) whether the condition significantly impacts the prisoner's daily activities; and (3) whether the condition is chronic and accompanied by substantial pain. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1131-32 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

The requirement of deliberate indifference is less stringent in medical needs cases than in other Eighth Amendment contexts because the responsibility to provide inmates with medical care does not generally conflict with competing penological concerns. See McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1060. Thus, deference need not be given to the judgment of prison officials as to decisions concerning medical needs. See Hunt v. Dental Dep't, 865 F.2d 198, 200 (9th Cir. 1989). The complete denial of medical attention may constitute deliberate indifference. See Toussaint, 801 F.2d at 1111. Delay in providing medical treatment, or interference with medical treatment, may also constitute deliberate indifference. See Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1131. Where delay is alleged, however, the prisoner must also demonstrate that the delay led to further injury. See McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1060.

Negligence in diagnosing or treating a medical condition does not, however, give rise to a claim under the Eighth Amendment. See Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106. Moreover, a difference of opinion between the prisoner and medical providers concerning the appropriate course of treatment does not give rise to an Eighth Amendment claim. See Jackson v. McIntosh, 90 F.3d 330, 332 (9th Cir. 1996).

To the extent Plaintiff is claiming denial of medical treatment, Plaintiff's claims are mostly vague and conclusory. While he claims he was denied medication and denied treatment as well as follow up visits, he fails to state who denied him ...


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