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Jorge Villatoro v. Jerry Brown

August 10, 2012



Screening Order

I. Procedural History, Screening Requirement, and Standard

On May 27, 2011, Plaintiff Jorge Villatoro ("Plaintiff"), a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to medical need by the medical department at Wasco State Prison and Pleasant Valley State Prison. Compl. at 3, Doc. 1.

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). "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, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)), and courts "are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences," Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

While prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are still entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor, the pleading standard is now higher, Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). Under § 1983, plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendantpersonally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

Section 1983 provides a cause of action for the violation of constitutional or other federal rights by those acting under color of state law. E.g., Patel v. Kent School Dist., 648 F.3d 965, 971 (9th Cir. 2011); Jones, 297 F.3d at 934. For eachdefendant named, plaintiff must show a causal link between the violation of his rights and an action or omission of the defendant. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1205-06 (9th Cir. 2011); Corales v. Bennett, 567 F.3d 554, 570 (9th Cir. 2009). There is norespondeat superior liability under § 1983, and each defendant may only be held liable for misconduct directly attributed to him or her. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676; Ewing v. City of Stockton, 588 F.3d 1218, 1235 (9th Cir. 2009).

II. Allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint

In Plaintiff's complaint, he names Jerry Brown, Governor of California; Medical Department at Wasco State Prison ("WSP"); Medical Department at Pleasant Valley State Prison ("PVSP"); and Doe Defendant Doctors and Nurses. Compl. at 1, 4-5, Doc. 1. Plaintiff states that Defendants have failed to respond to his inmate appeals. Id. at 6.

In mid 2008, Plaintiff started experiencing low back pain while incarcerated at WSP. Id. at 7. The pain became so severe that Plaintiff requested help from the medical department. Id. Plaintiff was seen by a doctor and scheduled x-rays. Id. After weeks of waiting, Plaintiff noticed a lump on his lower back. Id. The pain became more severe, so that Plaintiff could not lay on his back and had problems sleeping. Id. The doctor at WSP reviewed the x-rays and said there was nothing wrong. Id. After Plaintiff continued to complain, he was scheduled for more x-rays, and the same doctor said there was nothing wrong, forcing Plaintiff to suffer in extreme pain. Id.

Plaintiff was forced to endure this pain for more than a year before being transferred to PVSP. Id. By this time, the lump on Plaintiff's back was the size of a softball. Id. Upon arrival at PVSP, Plaintiff was scheduled for another x-ray. Id. After finding out that he already had two (2) x-rays, he was scheduled for an ultrasound, and the test found that the large mass on Plaintiff's back was cancer. Id. Plaintiff had this mass removed by an outside hospital and then denied follow up treatment by PVSP and their staff. Id. Plaintiff alleges Eighth amendment deliberate indifference. Id. at 8.

For relief, Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief; compensatory damages of $100 a day per violation from each defendant; compensatory damages of $350,000 from each defendant; and punitive damages of $110 a day for each violation. Id. at 10-11.

III. Legal Standard and Analysis for ...

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