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Hollins v. Fishman

United States District Court, N.D. California, Oakland Division

March 21, 2014

MICHAEL HOLLINS, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. FISHMAN, et. al., Defendants.

ORDER OF SERVICE

PHYLLIS J. HAMILTON, District Judge.

Plaintiff, a detainee incarcerated at Maguire Correctional Facility has filed a pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's original complaint was dismissed with leave to amend and he has filed an amended complaint.

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). 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, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (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, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. The United States Supreme Court has recently explained the "plausible on its face" standard of Twombly: "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).

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).

B. Legal Claims

Plaintiff states that staff at Napa State Hospital failed to protect him from another patient who assaulted him.

A pretrial detainee is not protected by the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment because he has not been convicted of a crime. See Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 & n.16 (1979). Pretrial detainees are protected from punishment without due process, however, under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 746-47 (1987); Bell, 441 U.S. at 535-36. The protections of the Due Process Clause are at least as great as those of the Eighth Amendment. See Revere v. Massachusetts General Hosp., 463 U.S. 239, 244 (1983). In the Ninth Circuit, "deliberate indifference is the level of culpability that pretrial detainees must establish for a violation of their personal security interests under the [F]ourteenth [A]mendment." Redman v. County of San Diego, 942 F.2d 1435, 1443 (9th Cir. 1991) (en banc).

A prisoner may state a § 1983 claim for failure to protect where the officials acted with "deliberate indifference" to the threat of serious harm or injury to an inmate by another prisoner, see Berg v. Kincheloe, 794 F.2d 457, 459 (9th Cir. 1986). Neither negligence nor gross negligence will constitute deliberate indifference. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 835-36 & n.4 (1994); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). A prison official cannot be held liable unless the standard for criminal recklessness is met, i.e., the official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety by failing to take reasonable steps to abate it. See Farmer at 837.

Plaintiff states that he was assigned to a room with three other patients. One night one of the other patients was talking to himself incoherently and appeared to be fighting with an imaginary person. Plaintiff requested to be moved to a different room because he feared for his safety and he was moved to a different room in the same wing by Nurse Lawrence. Approximately two weeks later while in his new room, the same patient who plaintiff feared, appeared in his room and assaulted plaintiff by hitting him about the face, head and chest. The patient was removed by staff and then returned ten minutes later and once again assaulted plaintiff by hitting him in the face and head. Plaintiff states he suffered a swollen eye and cuts to his mouth. This claim is sufficient to proceed against Nurse Lawrence for failure to protect.[1]

CONCLUSION

1. The clerk shall issue a summons and the United States Marshal shall serve, without prepayment of fees, copies of the amended complaint (Docket No. 15) with attachments and copies of this order on the ...


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