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Suknaich v. Lozano

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 2, 2014

JAMES SUKNAICH, Plaintiff,
v.
C. LOZANO, et al., Defendants.

ORDER DISMISSING ACTION, WITH PREJUDICE, FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM UPON WHICH RELIEF MAY BE GRANTED UNDER SECTION 1983, AND DIRECTING CLERK OF COURT ENTER JUDGMENT (Doc. 16)

SHEILA K. OBERTO, Magistrate Judge.

Second Screening Order

I. Screening Requirement and Standard

Plaintiff James Suknaich ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se in this civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants Lozano and Brazleton removed this action from Fresno County Superior Court on August 27, 2012. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b). On March 13, 2013, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's claims for violation of California Code of Regulations, Title 15, and Defendants California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR") and Pleasant Valley State Prison ("PVSP"), with prejudice, for failure to state a claim; and the Court dismissed Plaintiff's negligence and Eighth Amendment medical care claims, with leave to amend. After obtaining two extensions of time, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on December 6, 2013.

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious, " that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2).

A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief...." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice, " Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007)), and courts "are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences, " Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

Under section 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor, Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted), but nevertheless, the mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting the plausibility standard, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

II. Discussion

A. Summary of Amended Complaint

In his amended complaint, Plaintiff names former Warden James Yates, [1] Sergeant Reed, Correctional Officer Lozano, Head Nurse Dobbins, Chief Medical Officer Doe, Captain Doe, and additional Does 1 through 10 as defendants. Plaintiff alleges his rights under the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution were violated while he was incarcerated at PVSP in Coalinga, California. Plaintiff's claims arise out of an incident on January 27, 2010, in which inmate Wolfbrandt attempted to murder him by slashing his throat. (Amend. Comp., pp. 10, 19.) Although Plaintiff neglected to specify what relief he seeks, he is limited to monetary damages given that his claims arise from a past event in a prison at which he is no longer incarcerated. 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(1)(A); Summers v. Earth Island Institute, 555 U.S. 488, 493, 129 S.Ct. 1142, 1149 (2009); Alvarez v. Hill, 667 F.3d 1061, 1063-64 (9th Cir. 2012).

B. Eighth Amendment Claims

1. Standard

Under section 1983, Plaintiff must link the named defendants to the participation in the violation at issue. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676-77; Simmons v. Navajo County, Ariz., 609 F.3d 1011, 1020-21 (9th Cir. 2010); Ewing v. City of Stockton, 588 F.3d 1218, 1235 (9th Cir. 2009); Jones, 297 F.3d at 934. Liability may not be imposed on supervisory personnel under the theory of respondeat superior, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676-77; Simmons, 609 F.3d at 1020-21; Ewing, 588 F.3d at 1235; Jones, 297 F.3d at 934, and administrators or supervisors, such as Defendants Yates, Dobbins, and Chief Medical Officer Doe, may only be held liable if they "participated in or directed the violations, or knew of the violations and failed to act to prevent them, " Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989); accord Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1205-08 (9th Cir. 2011), cert. denied, 132 S.Ct. 2101 (2012); Corales v. Bennett, 567 F.3d 554, 570 (9th Cir. 2009); Preschooler II v. Clark County School Board of Trustees, 479 F.3d 1175, 1182 (9th Cir. 2007); Harris v. Roderick, 126 F.3d 1189, 1204 (9th Cir. 1997). Some culpable action or inaction must be attributable to each defendant for liability to lie. Starr, 652 F.3d at 1205; Jeffers v. Gomez, 267 F.3d 895, 914-15 (9th Cir. 2001); Redman v. County of San Diego, 942 F.2d 1435, 1446-47 (9th Cir. 1991); Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 646 (9th Cir. 1989).

The Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment protects prisoners not only from inhumane methods of punishment but also from inhumane conditions of confinement. Morgan v. Morgensen, 465 F.3d 1041, 1045 (9th Cir. 2006) (citing Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 847, 114 S.Ct. 1970 (1994) and Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347, 101 S.Ct. 2392 (1981)) (quotation marks omitted). While conditions of confinement may be, and often are, restrictive and harsh, they must not involve the ...


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