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Dale King v. R. Sorenson

January 4, 2012



Plaintiff is a former inmate at Deuel Vocational Institution and is currently incarcerated at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Center in Tutwiler, Mississippi. He is proceeding pro se and seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. By prior order, plaintiff's original complaint was dismissed with leave to amend. Now before the court is plaintiff's amended complaint and documents filed in support of his application to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. This proceeding was referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge in accordance with Local Rule 302 and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Plaintiff has consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction in this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). See Doc. No. 5.

I. Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

Plaintiff has submitted an in forma pauperis application and trust account statements making the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). (Doc. No. 2; Doc. No. 10 at 6, 10 & 13-14.) Accordingly, plaintiff will be granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis.

Plaintiff is required to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 in connection with this action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a) & 1915(b)(1). Plaintiff has been without funds for six months and is currently without funds. Accordingly, the court will not assess an initial partial filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Plaintiff will be obligated to make monthly payments of twenty percent of the preceding month's income credited to plaintiff's prison trust account. These payments will be collected and forwarded by the appropriate agency to the Clerk of the Court each time the amount in plaintiff's account exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee is paid in full. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

II. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint

Plaintiff's amended complaint alleges, in its entirety, as follows: On September 2, 2010 LVN R. Sorenson stopped my pain medication that was prescribed by a medical doctor which violates my rights in accordance with the 14th Amendment. The wanton infliction of unnecessary pain constitutes cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth Amendment violated my rights. LVN Sorenson "deprived" me of my pain medication with deliberate indifference.

(Doc. No. 10 at 3.) It appears that the incident described above allegedly occurred while plaintiff was incarcerated at California's Deuel Vocational Institution. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages in the amount of $7,500. (Id.)

III. Screening Requirement

In the court's December 20, 2010 order, plaintiff was advised that the court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Plaintiff was also advised that the court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if plaintiff 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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) & (2). A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). The court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis. See Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989); Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.

IV. Analysis

In his amended complaint, plaintiff claims that his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution have been violated.

A. Fourteenth Amendment Claim

Plaintiff contends that by allegedly stopping his pain medication, defendant Sorenson violated plaintiff's rights guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment. However, the Due Process Clause does not provide plaintiff greater protection than the specific guarantees of the Eighth Amendment's Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause. "'If a constitutional claim is covered by a specific constitutional provision . . . the claim must be analyzed under the standard appropriate to that specific provision, not under the rubric of substantive due process.'" County of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833, 843 (1998) ...

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