United States District Court, E.D. California
April 10, 2014
TIMOTHY LEE BLUDWORTH, Plaintiff,
FIRST SCREENING ORDER DISMISSING PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND
(ECF No. 12) THIRTY-DAY DEADLINE
DENNIS L. BECK, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Timothy Lee Bludworth ("Plaintiff") is a prisoner in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"). Plaintiff filed this action on May 14, 2013, in the Northern District of California, and is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On May 16, 2013, this action was transferred to the Eastern District of California. (ECF No. 6.) On June 13, 2013, Plaintiff filed his complaint, which is presently before the Court for screening. (ECF No. 12.)
The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or 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. Id. § 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 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id.
II. Summary of Complaint
Plaintiff was incarcerated at California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility ("CSATF") in Corcoran, California, and Sierra Conservation Center ("SCC") in Jamestown, California, where the events giving rise to this action occurred. Plaintiff names Jeffrey Beard (Secretary of CDCR), D. Smiley (Chief Executive Officer), C. Ogbuehi (Physician Assistant), Jack St. Claire (Chief Medical Officer, SCC), and an unknown number of John Does (medical staff) as defendants in this action.
Plaintiff alleges the following. On March 30, 2012, Plaintiff was in a physical altercation with an inmate at CSATF. Plaintiff injured his right shoulder and was bitten several times by the inmate. His shoulder also had a two to three inch bump on it as a result of the fight. Plaintiff could not raise his arm without experiencing severe pain. Plaintiff filed several 602s for medical treatment, but they were returned to him. Plaintiff saw doctors for his pain, but they told him to just keep taking the Tylenol and NSAID. Plaintiff was in pain twenty four hours a day. Nurses told Plaintiff to stop faking his injury. Dr. Savage would not give Plaintiff a diagnosis for his shoulder. Plaintiff cannot exercise his shoulder as a result of the injury.
Plaintiff requests compensatory and punitive damages as relief.
A. Eighth Amendment-Medical Deliberate Indifference
Plaintiff raises claims under Section 1983 for violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments. To constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, prison conditions must involve "the wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain." Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981). A prisoner's claim does not rise to the level of an Eighth Amendment violation unless (1) "the prison official deprived the prisoner of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities, '" and (2) "the prison official acted with deliberate indifference in doing so.'" Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1057 (9th Cir. 2004) (quoting Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 744 (9th Cir. 2002) (citation omitted)). In order to find a prison official liable under the Eighth Amendment for denying humane conditions of confinement within a prison, the official must know "that inmates face a substantial risk of serious harm and disregard that risk by failing to take reasonable measures to abate it." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 847 (1994).
To maintain an Eighth Amendment claim based on prison medical treatment, an inmate must show (1) a serious medical need by demonstrating that failure to treat a prisoner's condition could result in further significant injury or the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain, and (2) a deliberately indifferent response by defendant. Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006). The deliberate indifference standard is met by showing (a) a purposeful act or failure to respond to a prisoner's pain or possible medical need and (b) harm caused by the indifference. Id. The failure to respond to a prisoner's complaints of pain can be sufficient to support an Eighth Amendment claim. Snow v. McDaniel, 681 F.3d 978, 990 (9th Cir. 2012); Clement v. Gomez, 298 F.3d 898, 904 (9th Cir. 2002). However, deliberate indifference must be shown and it is a high legal standard. Toguchi, 391 F.3d at 1060 (quotation marks omitted). "Under this standard, the prison official must not only be aware of the facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, ' but that person must also draw the inference.'" Id. at 1057 (quoting Farmer , 511 U.S. at 837). "If a prison official should have been aware of the risk, but was not, then the official has not violated the Eighth Amendment, no matter how severe the risk.'" Id. (quoting Gibson v. Cnty. of Washoe, Nev., 290 F.3d 1175, 1188 (9th Cir. 2002)).
Here, Plaintiff fails to state a claim for medical deliberate indifference against any defendants. Although Plaintiff alleges injuries that3 likely needed medical attention, Plaintiff fails to state with any specificity how the named defendants were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's medical needs. Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Accordingly, Plaintiff fails to state any claims for medical deliberate indifference to support an Eighth Amendment claim.
B. Supervisory Liability
Under section 1983, Plaintiff must link the named defendants to the participation in the violation at issue. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676-77, 129 S.Ct. at 1948-49; Simmons v. Navajo Cnty., Ariz., 609 F.3d 1011, 1020-21 (9th Cir. 2010); Ewing v. City of Stockton, 588 F.3d 1218, 1235 (9th Cir. 2009); Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). Liability may not be imposed on supervisory personnel under the theory of respondeat superior, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676-77, 129 S.Ct. at 1948-49; Simmons, 609 F.3d at 1020-21; Ewing , 588 F.3d at 1235; Jones, 297 F.3d at 934, and as administrators, Defendants 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 Cnty. Sch. Bd. of Trs., 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 Defendants and while the creation or enforcement of, or acquiescence in, an unconstitutional policy, may support a claim, the policy must have been the moving force behind the violation. Starr, 652 F.3d at 1205; Jeffers v. Gomez , 267 F.3d 895, 914-15 (9th Cir. 2001); Redman v. Cnty. of San Diego, 942 F.2d 1435, 1446-47 (9th Cir. 1991); Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 646 (9th Cir. 1989).
Plaintiff alleges no facts which indicate that any supervisory defendants personally participated in the alleged deprivation of constitutional rights or knew of violations and failed to act to prevent them. Accordingly, Plaintiff fails to state a claim against any defendants.
IV. Conclusion and Order
Plaintiff's complaint fails to state any cognizable federal claims against any Defendants. The Court will provide Plaintiff with an opportunity to file an amended complaint curing the deficiencies identified by the Court in this order. Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448-49 (9th Cir. 1987). Plaintiff may not change the nature of this suit by adding new, unrelated claims in his amended complaint. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007) (no "buckshot" complaints). Plaintiff is further advised that the Court cannot direct the United States Marshal to effect service of process for any cognizable claims in an amended complaint until Plaintiff is able to provide the identity of at least one defendant.
If Plaintiff decides to amend, Plaintiff's amended complaint should be brief, Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a), but must state what each named defendant did that led to the deprivation of Plaintiff's constitutional or other federal rights. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Although accepted as true, the "[f]actual allegations must be [sufficient] to raise a right to relief above the speculative level...." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
Finally, Plaintiff is advised that an amended complaint supersedes the original complaint, Forsyth v. Humana, Inc., 114 F.3d 1467, 1474 (9th Cir. 1997) overruled in part on other grounds, Lacey v. Maricopa Cnty., 693 F.3d 896, 928 (9th Cir. 2012) (en banc); King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987), and must be "complete in itself without reference to the prior or superseded pleading, " Local Rule 220.
Accordingly, it is HEREBY ORDERED that:
1. The Clerk's Office shall send Plaintiff a complaint form;
2. Plaintiff's complaint is dismissed for failure to state a claim, with leave to file an amended complaint within thirty (30) days from the date of service of this order;
3. Plaintiff may not add any new, unrelated claims to this action via the first amended complaint and any attempt to do so may result in an order striking the first amended complaint; and
4. If Plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint in compliance with this order, this action will be dismissed, with prejudice, for failure to state a claim.
IT IS SO ORDERED.