Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

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.

Alonzo Joseph v. C. Smith

January 31, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Craig M. Kellison United States Magistrate Judge


Plaintiff, a prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court is plaintiff's complaint (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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if it: (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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Moreover, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that complaints contain a ". . . short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). This means that claims must be stated simply, concisely, and directly. See McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996) (referring to Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(e)(1)). These rules are satisfied if the complaint gives the defendant fair notice of the plaintiff's claim and the grounds upon which it rests. See Kimes v. Stone, 84 F.3d 1121, 1129 (9th Cir. 1996). Because plaintiff must allege with at least some degree of particularity overt acts by specific defendants which support the claims, vague and conclusory allegations fail to satisfy this standard. Additionally, it is impossible for the court to conduct the screening required by law when the allegations are vague and conclusory.


Plaintiff names the following as defendants: C. Smith; Heatley; Galloway; Fong; Horowitz; Zamora; and McLean. Plaintiff claims:

Doctors C. Smith, Heatley, P. Galloway, L.C. Fong, never evaluated or examined me. Each one of these doctors relied on old reports without first ordering new x-rays or M.R.I.'s so that they can have a leg to stand on. But instead of using their power of authorities, they rather issue a prejudgment decision as to my medical needs. On 11-28-2011, I finally got x-rays done. The spondylolisthesis of L4 upon L5 has increased since the last examination of 2009. Spondylolisthesis does mean degeneration, but it also says deficient development of a portion of the vertebrae commonly involves the [undecipherable], which can result in a spondylolisthesis with splippage of L5 anteriorly on S1. After my x-rays, I went back to see Doctor Horowitz about my pain and discomfort. She tryed [sic] to minimize my x-ray report. To justify her action or decision on my medical need, she lessen the degree, so she won't have to do more than she can she failed to help me relieve any of the pain and discomfort. Doctor Galloway and Doctor Horowitz wouldn't recommend any pain medication. Because I was housed in a mental health program (E.O.P.) they discriminated on me because of my mental disability. That's why Doctor Horowitz kept trying to get my psychiatrist to approve "amitriptyline, nortriptyline, and tegretol" for a pain remedy because she wanted to stay on the borderline of my (E.O.P.). On 2-27-2012 I went to see psychiatrist Ashman. I explain to her about what Doctor Horowitz was trying to do. She stated to me "that it's unethical for the medical doctors to mix mental health with medical," and she wouldn't respond to Doctor Horowitz request. The physical therapist explain the whole process about my x-rays and it's more than what Doctor Horowitz is saying. He said that some bones on the vertebrae never fully develop [sic], and the pressure on the vertebrae, that grinds the disc, is what causing the spurring and the pain, and to live in pain and discomfort just because I ain't crawling on my hands and knees don't mean I ain't in pain. As to L.D. Zamora, the chief appeals, she's relying on the Doctor's reports, hoping that the reports are accurate so that he or she won't be held reliable [sic] for someone else negligence.


Reading the complaint liberally, as the court must, it appears that plaintiff raises two claims: (1) an Eighth Amendment claim based on inadequate health care; and (2) an equal protection claim based on his mental status.

A. Eighth Amendment Claim

The treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which the prisoner is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. See Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993); Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). The Eighth Amendment ". . . embodies broad and idealistic concepts of dignity, civilized standards, humanity, and decency." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102 (1976). Conditions of confinement may, however, be harsh and restrictive. See Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981). Nonetheless, prison officials must provide prisoners with "food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, medical care, and personal safety." Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1107 (9th Cir. 1986). A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only when two requirements are met: (1) objectively, the official's act or omission must be so serious such that it results in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities; and (2) subjectively, the prison official must have acted unnecessarily and wantonly for the purpose of inflicting harm. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. Thus, to violate the Eighth Amendment, a prison official must have a "sufficiently culpable mind." See id.

Negligence in diagnosing or treating a medical condition does not, however, give rise to a claim under the Eighth Amendment. See Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106. Moreover, a difference of opinion between the prisoner and medical providers concerning the appropriate course of treatment does not give rise to an Eighth Amendment claim. See Jackson v. McIntosh, 90 F.3d 330, 332 (9th Cir. 1996).

In this case, it is clear on the face of the allegations that plaintiff's medical care claim amounts to no more than a difference of opinion as to the appropriate medical for pain management.

B. Equal Protection Claim

Equal protection claims arise when a charge is made that similarly situated individuals are treated differently without a rational relationship to a legitimate state purpose. See San Antonio School District v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1 (1972). Prisoners are protected from invidious discrimination based on race. See Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 556 (1974). Racial segregation is unconstitutional within prisons save for the necessities of prison security and discipline. See Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 321 (1972) (per curiam). Prisoners are also protected from intentional discrimination on the basis of their religion. See Freeman v. Arpaio, 125 F.3d 732, 737 (9th Cir. 1997). Equal protection claims are not necessarily limited to racial and religious discrimination. See Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 686-67 (9th Cir. 2001) (applying minimal scrutiny to equal protection claim by a disabled plaintiff because the disabled do not constitute a suspect class) see also Tatum v. ...

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.