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Stanley Sims v. Ulit

January 30, 2012

STANLEY SIMS,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
ULIT, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael J. Seng United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF NO. 1) AMENDED COMPLAINT DUE WITHIN THIRTY DAYS/ SCREENING ORDER

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On January 26, 2011, Plaintiff Stanley Sims, a former state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.)

Plaintiff's Complaint is now before the Court for screening.

II. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous, malicious," or 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),(2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that ... the action or appeal ... fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief ...." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 1949--50.

III. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

Plaintiff, currently at liberty, (ECF No. 8), was incarcerated at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison at Corcoran, CA. (CSATF-SP), when the alleged rights violations took place. (Compl., p. 8, ECF No. 1.) He claims that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, retaliated against him for his prison grievances, violated his due process rights, and improperly punished him. (Compl. at 11-12.)

Plaintiff names as Defendants, (1) Ulit, the treating M.D. at CSATF-SP, in his/her official and individual capacity, (2) Lopez, a nurse at CSATF-SP, in his/her official and individual capacity, (3) Stanley, a nurse at CSATF-SP, in his/her official and individual capacity, (4) Kellogg, a health care appeals coordinator at CSATF-SP, in his/her official and individual capacity, (5) Madruga, a health care appeals coordinator at CSATF-SP, in his/her official and individual capacity, (6) Obaiza, a health care appeals coordinator at CSATF-SP, in his/her official and individual capacity, (7) Macias, a prison medical health care CEO at CSATF-SP, in his/her official and individual capacity, (8) Clark, chief medical officer at CSATF-SP, in his/her official and individual capacity, and (9) John/Jane Does, staff at CSATF-SP, in their individual capacities. (Id. at 8-11.)

Plaintiff injured his left shoulder in 2006 and was left with chronic, extreme pain and significant limitations on his daily activities. (Id. at 12). He was initially prescribed morphine. (Id. at 42.) In August of 2008, the dosage of morphine was reduced. (Id.) In late 2009 and early 2010, the dosage of morphine was further reduced and ultimately discontinued, in favor of non-narcotic pain medication. (Id. at 11-12, 70-71.)

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have unreasonably denied, delayed, and interfered with his access to medically necessary morphine, and retaliated for his related grievances, resulting in chronic serious pain affecting his daily activities, (Id. at 11-12), by the following:

Defendant Ulit reduced, eliminated, and then failed to restore the morphine, (Id. at 13-19);

Defendants Lopez and Stanley wrongly accused Plaintiff of "cheeking", or not swallowing the morphine, (Id. at 13), then Defendants conspired to place Plaintiff in "double jeopardy" by denying him discovery during an alleged undocumented disciplinary proceeding, failing to provide evidentiary support for findings of guilt, and then depriving him of morphine based thereon, (Id. at 13-17);

Defendants Madruga, Kellogg and Obaiza intentionally delayed processing of Plaintiff's appeals, contrary to prison regulations, (Id. at 17);

Defendants Clark and Macias, as medical care supervisors at CSATF-SP, failed to take corrective action on administrative appeal, violating Plaintiff's due process rights, (Id. at 21-235);

Defendants retaliated for prison grievances by reducing and eliminating Plaintiff's morphine. (Id. at 19, 22.)

Plaintiff complains the foregoing adverse actions were contrary to prison regulations,*fn1 and did not further any underlying state or penological purpose. (Id. at 26.)

He seeks an injunction that his morphine be restored, as well as compensatory damages of $500,000, punitive damages of $800,000, and costs, against each Defendant. (Id. at 4, 18, 26-27.)

IV. ANALYSIS

A. Pleading Requirements Generally

To state a claim under Section 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Ketchum v. Alameda Cnty., 811 F.2d 1243, 1245 (9th Cir.1987).

A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief ...." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Id. Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 1949--50.

B. Personal Participation and Doe Defendants

Under Section 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each named Defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). The Supreme Court has emphasized that the term "supervisory liability," loosely and commonly used by both courts and litigants alike, is a misnomer. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. "Government officials may not be held liable for the unconstitutional conduct of their subordinates under a theory of respondeat superior." Id. at 1948. Rather, each government official, regardless of his or her title, is only liable for his or her own misconduct, and therefore, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each Defendant, through his or her own individual actions, violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights. Id. at 1948--49.

Plaintiff fails to allege any facts personally linking the Doe Defendants to the alleged rights violations. There is no evidence that these Defendants personally participated in the events alleged in Plaintiff's Complaint. They cannot be held liable based solely on a supervisory position. Plaintiff cannot proceed against these Defendants unless he truthfully alleges ...


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