Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Mark Swagerty, Jr v. Dr. Sambrajya Palagummi

March 1, 2012

MARK SWAGERTY, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
DR. SAMBRAJYA PALAGUMMI, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kendall J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel. Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and has requested leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. This proceeding was referred to this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Rule 302. Plaintiff consented to proceed before the undersigned for all purposes. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

Plaintiff has submitted a declaration that makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Accordingly, the request to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted. Plaintiff is required to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for this action.

28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a), 1915(b)(1). By this order, plaintiff will be assessed an initial partial filing fee in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). By separate order, the court will direct the appropriate agency to collect the initial partial filing fee from plaintiff's prison trust account and forward it to the Clerk of the Court. Thereafter, 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 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

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 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.

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 when 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), superseded by statute as stated in Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130-31 (9th Cir. 2000) ("a judge may dismiss [in forma pauperis] claims which are based on indisputably meritless legal theories or whose factual contentions are clearly baseless."); Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.

Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "requires only 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). In order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, a complaint must contain more than "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action;" it must contain factual allegations sufficient "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. However, "[s]pecific facts are not necessary; the statement [of facts] need only give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (citations and internal quotations marks omitted). In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, id., and construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969); Meek v. County of Riverside, 183 F.3d 962, 965 (9th Cir. 1999).

On January 26, 2012, plaintiff filed an amended complaint. However, on February 14, 2012, plaintiff filed a document entitled, "Motion to amend the cause of action and exhibits and add defendant John Doe to the complaint." (Dkt. No. 9.) Rather than provide a proposed second amended complaint, however, plaintiff filed separate causes of action against defendants Washington, Palagummi, and Street. (Dkt. No. 9 at 2-6.) Plaintiff did not provide a separate cause of action as to "John Doe," and it is unclear in the causes of action provided which allegations are pertinent to a "John Doe," if any. Moreover, doe defendants are not favored in the Ninth Circuit. Gillespie v. Civiletti, 629 F.2d 637, 642 (9th Cir. 1980) (citing Wiltsie v. Cal. Dep't of Corrections, 406 F.2d 515, 518 (9th Cir. 1968)). If plaintiff names a doe defendant in his second amended complaint, he should specifically identify the individual by job title or action such that plaintiff can promptly move to substitute the individual once his or her identity is discovered. Plaintiff should also use the court's complaint form.

Plaintiff alleges, inter alia, that he fell and was injured as a result of a defective drain plate, and was injured as a result of the cancellation of orders for a cane, crutches, and light duty. In plaintiff's January 26, 2012 amended complaint, plaintiff claims he brought this civil rights action for medical malpractice, personal injuries, product liability, negligence, and a manufacturing defect. (Dkt. No. 8 at 5.) As explained below, none of these causes of action are properly brought as a federal civil rights claim.

The Civil Rights Act provides as follows:

Every person who, under color of [state law] . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution . . . shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.

42 U.S.C. § 1983. In order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, plaintiff must allege that (1) a person was acting under color of state law at the time the complained of act was committed, and (2) that person's conduct deprived plaintiff of rights, privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42 (1988) (citation omitted). It is unlikely that the manufacturer of the drain plate was acting under color of state law at the time the drain plate was made. Private companies are not state actors. Plaintiff therefore fails to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Van Ort v. Estate of Stanewich, 92 F.3d 831, 835 (9th Cir. 1996) (no right to be free from infliction of constitutional deprivations by private individuals).

Plaintiff argues he was under the supervision of defendant Washington, and that Washington owed plaintiff a "legal professional duty," and failed to use ordinary care by placing caution signs or cones around the defective drain plate. However, the Constitution does not guarantee due care on the part of state officials; liability for negligently inflicted harm is beneath the threshold of constitutional due process. See County of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833, 849 (1998). Thus, plaintiff fails to state a cognizable civil rights ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.