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Martin v. Grounds

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

June 12, 2013

GEORGE MARTIN, H-90626, Plaintiff(s),
v.
RANDY GROUNDS, Warden, et al., Defendant(s).

ORDER OF SERVICE

CHARLES R. BREYER, District Judge.

Plaintiff, a prisoner at Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP), has filed a pro se First Amended Complaint for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging inadequate medical care while at SVSP. Among other things, plaintiff alleges that SVSP medical staff have deprived him of treatment for a host of serious medical conditions, medically necessary cell feeding and effective pain management. He claims that there actions and omissions amount to deliberate indifference under § 1983 and medical negligence under California law.

DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

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). The court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint "is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, " or "seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." Id . § 1915A(b). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed, however. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't , 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

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

B. Legal Claims

Deliberate indifference to serious medical needs violates the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment. Estelle v. Gamble , 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). A "serious medical need" exists if the failure to treat a prisoner's condition could result in further significant injury or the "unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain." McGuckin v. Smith , 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1992) (citing Estelle , 429 U.S. at 104), overruled in part on other grounds by WMX Technologies, Inc. v. Miller , 104 F.3d 1133, 1136 (9th Cir. 1997) (en banc). A prison official is "deliberately indifferent" if he knows that a prisoner faces a substantial risk of serious harm and disregards that risk by failing to take reasonable steps to abate it. Farmer v. Brennan , 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994).

Liberally construed, plaintiff's allegations that SVSP medical staff have deprived him of treatment for a host of serious medical conditions, medically necessary cell feeding, effective pain management and the like, appear to state a cognizable § 1983 claim for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs against the following SVSP defendants: Doctors Michael C. Sepulveda, Richard B. Mack, Kim Kumar, Darren Bright and Sammit Reed, and Nurse Eric Golden. They also appear to state a cognizable California state law claim for medical negligence against the same defendants pursuant to this court's supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367. These SVSP defendants accordingly will be ordered served.

But SVSP Warden Randy Grounds is dismissed because he is named on the theory that he is liable for the actions of his subordinates and it is well established that there is no § 1983 liability under such a theory, i.e., a theory of respondeat superior liability. See Taylor v. List , 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989) (under no circumstances is there liability under § 1983 solely because one is responsible for the actions or omissions of another).

And Dr. N. Bhatt, who plaintiff alleges was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs while plaintiff was incarcerated at California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in Corcoran (SATF), is dismissed without prejudice to plaintiff bringing his allegations against Dr. Bhatt in the Eastern District of California, where Dr. Bhatt resides and where the events and/or omissions giving rise to plaintiff's claim against Dr. Bhatt occurred. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons and for good cause shown,

1. The clerk shall issue summons and the United States Marshal shall serve, without prepayment of fees, copies of the First Amended Complaint in this matter, all attachments thereto, and copies of this order on the following defendants at SVSP: Doctors Michael C. Sepulveda, Richard B. Mack, Kim Kumar, Darren Bright and Sammit ...


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