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Cranford v. Tinna

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 14, 2014

ARCHIE CRANFORD, Plaintiff,
v.
M.A. TINNA, et al., Defendants.

ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND, FOR FAILURE TO STATE A COGNIZABLE CLAIM, AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDERS [ECF Nos. 2, 10, 11]

STANLEY A. BOONE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Archie Cranford is a civil detainee proceeding pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Individuals detained pursuant to California Welfare and Institutions Code § 6600 et seq. are civil detainees and are not prisoners within the meaning of the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Page v. Torrey , 201 F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir. 2000). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), Plaintiff consented to the jurisdiction of the United States Magistrate Judge on February 18, 2014. Local Rule 302.

I.

SCREENING REQUIREMENT

The Court is required to screen Plaintiff's complaint and dismiss the case, in whole or in part, if the Court determines it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). 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.

Pro se litigants are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor, Wilhelm v. Rotman , 680 F.3d 1113, 1121-23 (9th Cir. 2012); Hebbe v. Pliler , 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010), but Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible to survive screening, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. U.S. Secret Service , 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss , 572 F.3d at 969.

II.

COMPLAINT ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff contends that in the month of January 2013, he was in severe need of his vitals taken because of severe chest pains. However, Defendants Jessica C. and Tinna M. Adams sleep during their work shift and failed to conduct the necessary vitals, resulting in Plaintiff experiencing severe chest pain. Plaintiff contends the taking of his vital signs was necessary to ensure that his blood pressure was not too low prior to ingesting his medication.

III.

DISCUSSION

As a civil detainee, Plaintiff is entitled to treatment more considerate than that afforded pretrial detainees or convicted criminals. Jones v. Blanas , 393 F.3d 918, 931-32 (9th Cir. 2004). Plaintiff's right to constitutionally adequate conditions of confinement is protected by the substantive component of the Due Process Clause. Youngberg v. Romeo , 457 U.S. 307, 315, 102 S.Ct. 2452 (1982).

A determination whether Plaintiff's rights were violated requires "balancing of his liberty interests against the relevant state interests." Youngberg , 457 U.S. at 321. Plaintiff is "entitled to more considerate treatment and conditions of confinement than criminals whose conditions of confinement are designed to punish, " but the Constitution requires only that courts ensure that professional judgment was exercised. Youngberg , 457 U.S. at 321-22. A "decision, if made by a professional, is presumptively valid; liability may be imposed only when the decision by the professional is such a substantial departure from accepted professional judgment, practice, or standards as to demonstrate that the person responsible actually did not base the decision on such a judgment." Id. at 322-23; compare Clouthier v. County of Contra Costa , 591 F.3d 1232, 1243-44 (9th Cir. 2010) (rejecting the Youngberg standard and applying the deliberate indifference standard to a pretrial detainee's right to medical care, and noting that pretrial detainees, who are confined to ensure presence at trial, are not similarly situated to those civilly committed). The professional judgment standard is an objective standard and it equates "to that required in ordinary tort cases for a finding of conscious indifference amounting to gross negligence." Ammons v. Washington Dep't of Soc. & Health Servs. , 648 F.3d 1020, 1029 (9th Cir. 2011) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

In this case, the facts alleged in Plaintiff's complaint fail to state a cognizable claim for inadequate medical care. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants failed to assess his vital signs prior to the ingestion of his medication which caused chest pain. It is unclear from Plaintiff's complain how long he suffered such alleged pain. In addition, Plaintiff has failed to allege facts to demonstrate that the assessment of his vital signs was a substantial departure from accepted professional judgment, practice, or standards. Even if it is assumed that Defendants actions were medically inappropriate, there is nothing in the complaint to suggest that Defendants' actions were improperly motivated or guilty of anything beyond possible negligence in failing to assess his vital signs. Mere negligence does not suffice under the "professional judgment" standard to state a cognizable claim for inadequate medical care against Defendants. See Patten v. Nichols , 274 F.3d 829, 842-843 (4th Cir. 2001) (applying Youngberg "professional judgment" standard to a denial of medical care claim by a civilly committed psychiatric patient and holding that more than negligence is required). Accordingly, Plaintiff fails to state a cognizable claim, however, leave to amend will be granted.

IV.

MOTIONS FOR INJUNCTIVE RELIEF

On February 7, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion for a court order to stop "elder or dependent adult abuse." (ECF No. 2.) Plaintiff presents that he is a mental patient and he has been assaulted on several occasions in an effort to persuade him to discontinue litigation in court.

On March 3, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking a temporary restraining order prohibiting Defendants Jessica C. and Tina M. Adams from denying his medical treatment and demands that both Defendants stay 1000 yards away from him at all times during this litigation. (ECF No. 6.)

The analysis for a temporary restraining order is substantially identical to that for a preliminary injunction, Stuhlbarg Intern. Sales Co., Inc. v. John D. Brush and Co., Inc. , 240 F.3d 832, 839 n.7 (9th Cir. 2001), and "[a] preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy never awarded as of right." Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. , 555 U.S. 7, 24, 129 S.Ct. 365, 376 (2008) (citation omitted). "A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest." Id. at 20 (citations omitted). An injunction may only be awarded upon a clear showing that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. Id. at 22 (citation omitted) (emphasis added).

In this case, Plaintiff has not demonstrated likelihood of success on the merits, likelihood of irreparable harm, a balance of equities in his favor, or that an injunction is in the public interest. Accordingly, Plaintiff's motions for temporary restraining orders, filed on February 7, 2014, and March 24, 2014, are HEREBY DENIED. Fed.R.Civ.P. 65; Local Rule 231; Winter , 555 U.S. at 24.

V.

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

Plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under section 1983. In an abundance of caution, the Court will provide Plaintiff with an opportunity to file an amended complaint. Akhtar v. Mesa , 698 F.3d 1202, 1212-13 (9th Cir. 2012); Lopez v. Smith , 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000).

Plaintiff's amended complaint should be brief, Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a), but it must state what each named defendant did that led to the deprivation of Plaintiff's federal rights and liability may not be imposed on supervisory personnel under the theory of mere respondeat superior, Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 676-77; Starr v. Baca , 652 F.3d 1202, 1205-07 (9th Cir. 2011). 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 (citations omitted).

Finally, an amended complaint supercedes the original complaint, Lacey v. Maricopa County , 693 F.3d 896, 907 n.1 (9th Cir. 2012) (en banc), and it must be "complete in itself without reference to the prior or superceded pleading, " Local Rule 220.

Accordingly, it is HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. Plaintiff's complaint is dismissed, with leave to amend, for failure to state a claim under section 1983;

2. Plaintiff's motions for temporary restraining orders are DENIED;

3. The Clerk's Office shall send Plaintiff a civil rights complaint form;

4. Within thirty (30) days from the date of service of this order, Plaintiff shall file an amended complaint; and

5. 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.


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