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Brian Lee Hanson, Jr. v. Dr. Subnoski

November 9, 2011


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



On October 13, 2011, pro se plaintiff Brian Lee Hanson, Jr. ("Plaintiff") filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S. Ct. 1999, 29 L. Ed. 2d 619 (1971) (the "Complaint") against various defendants. 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 a prisoner 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).


Plaintiff names as defendants Metropolitan Detention Center ("MDC") Medical Doctor Subnoski ("Dr. Subnoski") and MDC Warden Michael Benov ("Warden Benov" and collectively "Defendants"). (See Complaint at 3). Plaintiff sues both Defendants solely in their official capacities. (See id.).

Plaintiff alleges that his right to "fair and proper medical care" has been violated. (Id. at 5). Plaintiff also claims his rights have been violated "because doctors refused to check [his] medical history before prescribing [him] medications which resulted in [his] seizure disorder becoming worse." (Id.). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Subnoski violated Plaintiff's rights by "prescribing [him] medications that [he] wasn't suppose to take nor mix together." (Id.). Plaintiff contends that because Dr. Subnoski prescribed Plaintiff certain medications, Plaintiff suffered "a massive seizure which resulted in [him] being found by officers in [his] cell face down on the floor." (Id.). Plaintiff claims he suffered a seizure due to improper medication which caused him to suffer an "overdose." (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that because of Dr. Subnoski's actions, Plaintiff "was unconscious and in ICU for a total of eight days not able to speak or move [his] limbs for the first few days nor was [he] able to remember anything." (Id.).

Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages in the amount of $750,000, and believes the "MDC-Los Angeles medical staff needs to be reviewed for there [sic] lack of providing proper medical care." (Id. at 6).


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. To The Extent Plaintiff Is Suing Warden Benov Simply For His Role As The Warden Of The Institution, Plaintiff Fails To State A Claim

Plaintiff names Warden Benov as a defendant. (Complaint at 3). However, Plaintiff's Complaint fails to include specific allegations that Warden Benov was directly involved in the alleged constitutional violations. Plaintiff has failed to explain how Warden Benov acted under color of law, as well as allege how Warden Benov contributed to a violation of Plaintiff's civil rights. (Id. at 3-6). Plaintiff must establish that the defendant had personal involvement in the civil rights violation or that his action or inaction caused the harm suffered. There is no "supervisory liability" in Bivens actions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009); Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1207 (9th Cir. 2011). "[E]ach Government official, his or her title notwithstanding, is only liable for his or her own misconduct." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949.

Here, Plaintiff's Complaint does not allege facts that establish either personal involvement by Warden Benov or any direct causal connection between Warden Benov's actions and the constitutional violations that Plaintiff is attempting to assert. Plaintiff must allege specific facts showing what Warden Benov personally did or did not do, when and where, and how his action or inaction directly caused a violation of Plaintiff's civil rights. Accordingly, the claims against the Warden are dismissed, with leave to amend. However, Plaintiff is cautioned that in any amended complaint, he should only name defendants who personally participated in the alleged constitutional violations or whose action or inaction caused the violations.

B. To The Extent Plaintiff Is Attempting To Claim Dr. Subnoski Was Deliberately Indifferent To Plaintiff's Medical Needs, ...

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