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Sowell v. Munks

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

May 8, 2013



WILLIAM ALSUP, District Judge.


Plaintiff, an inmate at the San Mateo County Jail proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights case under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against two nurses, Sheriff Greg Munks, and Jean S. Fraser, the Chief Medical Director at the jail. He has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in a separate order. For the reasons discussed below, the complaint is ordered served upon defendants Munks and Fraser, and they are directed to provide Plaintiff the last names of the other two defendants, two jail nurses who treated Plaintiff.



Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. 1915A(a). In its review the court must identify any cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. at 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." "Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only "give the defendant fair notice of what the.... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests."'" Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (citations omitted). Although in order to state a claim a complaint "does not need detailed factual allegations, ... a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.... Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer "enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 1974.

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. 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 deprivation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).


Plaintiff alleges that on November 3, 2011, he told defendant Malou, a jail nurse, that he had an infected foot. He alleges that she ignored his complaint, told him he had a "flat foot, " and provided no treatment. Four days later, plaintiff allegedly had an anxiety attack because of the pain and infection in his foot. He told another nurse, defendant Lisa, about his foot condition, but she also provided no treatment and wrote a false report. He further alleges that he complained of these problems to defendants Fraser and Munks, but they took no corrective action. When liberally construed, these allegations state cognizable claims against defendants for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Plaintiff indicates that he does not know the last names of the two nurses, named here only by their first names, Malou and Lisa. He states that he tried for a year to get their last names from county officials, to no avail. Below, defendant Munks and Fraser are directed to submit the last names of nurses Malou and Lisa to the court in order to allow the Marshal to serve them.


For the reasons set out above, it is hereby ordered as follows:

1. The clerk shall issue summons and the United States Marshal shall serve, without prepayment of fees, a copy of the complaint with all attachments thereto, and a copy of this order upon defendants: San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks at the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office. 400 County Center #3, Redwood City, California, 94063, and Jean S. Fraser at the San Mateo County Public Health Department, 225, 37th Avenue, San Mateo, California 94403. A courtesy copy ...

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