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Chad Horning v. Doctor Laousor

November 1, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Suzanne H. Segal United States Magistrate Judge



On August 16, 2011, plaintiff Chad Horning ("Plaintiff") filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (the "Complaint") against the head of the medical unit at Robert Presley Detention Center ("RPDC"), where Plaintiff currently resides. For the reasons stated below, the Complaint is dismissed with leave to amend.*fn1

Congress mandates that district courts initially screen civil complaints filed by prisoners seeking redress from a governmental entity or employee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). This Court may dismiss such a complaint, or any portions thereof, before service of process if the Court concludes that the complaint (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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2); see also Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 & n.7 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).


The Complaint appears directed at a single defendant, although the identity of the defendant is unclear. The caption of the Complaint names "Doctor Laousor or Head of Medical Unknown," while the body of the Complaint identifies the defendant as "Doctor Aries or Head of Medical Unknown" ("Defendant"). (Complaint at 1, 3). Defendant is sued in his *fn2 individual capacity. (Id. at 3).

Plaintiff's allegations are difficult to decipher, in part because the photocopy of the Complaint is often illegible and in part because the underlying facts and nature of Plaintiff's claims are unclear. The gravamen of Plaintiff's claims, however, appears to be that Plaintiff has received inadequate medical care at RPDC since June 2011. (Complaint at 5-7). Plaintiff generally claims that Defendant has violated his "right to expect to be treated as a human being . . . [and his] right to health care . . . and medication at proper intervals. The right to grieve [sic]." (Id. at 5). Specifically, Plaintiff states that he has not been given a list of his prescriptions so that he can monitor that he is receiving all of his medications timely and in the proper dosage. (Id. at 6). Plaintiff claims that on five occasions, June 21, 2011 and July 4, 8, 19, and 20, 2011, he did not receive any of his regular daily medications, and that from July 16 to July 18, 2011, the prison did not provide him with the correct dosage of his blood pressure medicine. (Id.). Plaintiff states that even though he is diabetic, the "medical staff refuses to check [his] blood sugar and blood pressure regularly." (Id.). Although Plaintiff informed prison deputies and medical staff of these problems, he has been told "there is no remedy." (Id. at 6-7). Plaintiff filed a grievance with respect to the June 21 incident and claims that he has attempted to file additional grievances, but deputies allegedly told him that the prison does not have any more grievance forms. (Id. at 6).

Plaintiff seeks an injunction requiring RPDC to increase its medical staff and to provide Plaintiff with his "full medication." (Id. at 8). Plaintiff also seeks compensatory damages of $100,000.00, punitive damages of $1,000,000.00, and "[w]hatever else the court deems necessary." (Id.).


Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint due to defects in pleading. Pro se litigants in civil rights cases, however, must be given leave to amend their complaints unless it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies cannot be cured by amendment. See Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1128-29. Accordingly, the Court grants Plaintiff leave to amend, as indicated below.

A. Defendant Fails To State A Claim For Deliberate Indifference To Serious Medical Needs

The gravamen of Plaintiff's Complaint is his claim based upon inadequate medical care. To assert a claim under section 1983 "based on prison medical treatment, an inmate must show [that the defendant acted with] deliberate indifference to serious medical needs." Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006) (internal quotation marks omitted). An "inadvertent or negligent failure to provide adequate medical care alone does not state a claim under § 1983." Id. (internal brackets and quotation marks omitted). Rather, the defendant must have "purposefully ignore[d] or fail[ed] to respond to a prisoner's pain or possible medical needs in order for deliberate indifference to be established." May v. Baldwin, 109 F.3d 557, 566 (9th Cir. 1997) (internal quotation marks omitted). "[I]solated occurrences of neglect do not amount to a constitutional violation" under section 1983. O'Loughlin v. Doe, 920 F.2d 614, 617 (9th Cir. 1990).

Here, Plaintiff alleges that on five occasions in June and July 2011, he did not receive any of his prescribed medications, that for one weekend the dosage of his blood pressure medication was too low, and that his glucose levels and blood pressure are not checked "regularly." (Complaint at 5-6). Plaintiff has not alleged facts showing that Defendant, or any other person on the medical staff, acted with "deliberate indifference" to his serious medical needs. "Although [isolated incidents of neglect] may constitute grounds for a medical malpractice claim, prison officials' failures to provide adequate medical care do not rise to the level of 'unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain' which is 'repugnant' to the Constitution and 'the conscience of mankind.'" O'Loughlin, 920 F.2d at 617 (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106, 97 S. Ct. 285, 292, 50 L. Ed. 2d 251 ...

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