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Keith M. Petty v. Pa-C Shojaei

September 6, 2012


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



On July 31, 2012, Keith M. Petty ("Plaintiff"), a federal prisoner proceeding pro se, 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"). 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 five Federal Bureau of Prisons employees at the Federal Correctional Complex-Victorville (the "FCC"): certified physician's assistants Shojaei and Arid, and medication technicians Blier, Almond and Chaney.*fn2 (See Complaint at 2-3). Plaintiff sues all Defendants solely in their individual capacities. (See id.).

Plaintiff alleges that on July 17, 2010, he sustained a stab wound to his face and nose for which he received approximately ten stitches at Victor Valley Community Hospital, an outside medical facility. (Complaint at 4). Upon discharge from the hospital, Plaintiff was returned to the custody of the FCC and placed in the Special Housing Unit (the "SHU"). (Id.). Plaintiff states that throughout the three months that he was housed in the SHU, he was "denied all Medical care, medical attention, medical supplies and even medical advice[,] even after [he] submitted numerous medical request[s] & spoke[] to numerous medical staff/the defendants which are named in this complaint." (Id.). Due to the denial of care in the SHU, Plaintiff endured a "Painful & Terrible" healing process and his injury became infected, which resulted in a "permanent deformity." (Id.).

Plaintiff seeks $650,000 in compensatory damages, punitive damages "in the amount of three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded," and fees and costs. (Id. at 5).


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. Plaintiff Fails To State A Claim For Deliberate Indifference To Serious Medical Needs

Plaintiff claims that he suffered pain and permanent disability when he was denied medical care for three months after receiving stitches to his face and nose. (Complaint at 4). Although Plaintiff lists five individual Defendants in the caption and introduction to the Complaint, he fails to allege any specific facts showing how each of these Defendants personally violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights.*fn3 (Id. at 1-3). Consequently, the Complaint fails to state a claim for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs and must be dismissed, with leave to amend.

A defendant is liable for the denial or delay of a prisoner's medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment only when the defendant is deliberately indifferent to the prisoner's known serious medical needs. Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006); see also West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 49, 108 S. Ct. 2250, 101 L. Ed. 2d 40 (1988). A prisoner must show that the deprivation he suffered was "objectively, sufficiently serious" and that prison officials were deliberately indifferent to his safety in allowing the deprivation to take place, resulting in harm to the plaintiff. Morgan v. Morgensen, 465 F.3d 1041, 1045 (9th Cir. 2006). The defendant must have "purposefully ignore[d] or fail[ed] to respond to a prisoner's pain or possible medical needs in order for deliberate indifference to be established." May v. Baldwin, 109 F.3d 557, 566 (9th Cir. 1997) (internal quotation marks omitted). "[M]ere malpractice, or even gross negligence," in the provision of medical care does not establish a constitutional violation. Wood v. Housewright, 900 F.2d 1332, 1334 (9th Cir. 1990).

While Plaintiff generally alleges that he was denied medical care for three months in the SHU, he fails to include any specific allegations showing how each individual Defendant was directly and personally involved in the alleged constitutional violations. Nor does Plaintiff explain how each Defendant's action or inaction caused the harm suffered. Plaintiff must allege specific facts showing that each individual Defendant knew of Plaintiff's serious medical needs but deliberately denied Plaintiff medical care despite that knowledge, and explaining how each Defendant's action or inaction directly caused ...

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