United States District Court, E.D. California
DAVID E. EDWARDS, Plaintiff,
HSIEH, et al., Defendants.
DAKE A. DRIZD, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se. Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and has requested leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. This proceeding was referred to this court by Local Rule 302 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
I. In Forma Pauperis Application
Plaintiff has submitted a declaration that makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Accordingly, the request to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted.
Plaintiff is required to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for this action. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a), 1915(b)(1). By this order, plaintiff will be assessed an initial partial filing fee in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). By separate order, the court will direct the appropriate agency to collect the initial partial filing fee from plaintiff's trust account and forward it to the Clerk of the Court. Thereafter, plaintiff will be obligated for monthly payments of twenty percent of the preceding month's income credited to plaintiff's prison trust account. These payments will be forwarded by the appropriate agency to the Clerk of the Court each time the amount in plaintiff's account exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee is paid in full. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).
II. Screening Requirement
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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2).
A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams , 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy , 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). The court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke , 490 U.S. at 327. The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis. See Jackson v. Arizona , 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989); Franklin , 745 F.2d at 1227.
Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "requires only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson , 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). However, in order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim a complaint must contain more than "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action;" it must contain factual allegations sufficient "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic , 550 U.S. at 555. In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint. See Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Rex Hosp. Trustees , 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976). The court must also construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor. See Jenkins v. McKeithen , 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969).
The allegations in plaintiff's complaint are so vague and conclusory that the court is unable to determine whether the current action is frivolous or fails to state a claim for relief. The complaint does not contain a short and plain statement as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Although the Federal Rules adopt a flexible pleading policy, a complaint must give fair notice to the defendants and must allege facts that support the elements of the claim plainly and succinctly. Jones v. Community Redev. Agency , 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984). Plaintiff must allege with at least some degree of particularity overt acts which defendants engaged in that support his claims. Id . Because plaintiff has failed to comply with the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), the complaint must be dismissed. The court will, however, grant leave to file an amended complaint. In addition, in order to provide plaintiff with some guidance, below the court will address the legal standards applicable to the claims it appears plaintiff is attempting to bring.
III. Legal Standards for Medical Care Claim
In his complaint, plaintiff alleges that defendants Dr. Hsieh, Dr. Kuersten and Dr. McCue failed to prescribe or renew his Benadryl his allergy prescription thereby causing plaintiff to suffer from a skin rash and nasal congestion. Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Lipsom had prescribed Benadryl for him but defendant doctors Hsieh, Kuersten and McCue prescribed other medications which plaintiff contends are ineffective.
If plaintiff wishes to proceed with a claim that he received inadequate medical care with respect to his allergies while imprisoned in violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment, he is advised of the following applicable legal standards for stating such a claim. The Supreme Court has held that inadequate medical care does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment cognizable under the Eighth Amendment unless the mistreatment rises to the level of "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs." Estelle v. Gamble , 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). Deliberate indifference is "a state of mind more blameworthy than negligence" and "requires more than ordinary lack of due care for the prisoner's interests or safety.'" Farmer v. Brennan , 511 U.S. 825, 835 (1994).
To state a cognizable claim for inadequate medical care, plaintiff needs to allege facts demonstrating how each defendant's actions rose to the level of "deliberate indifference." Plaintiff is cautioned that "mere indifference, ' negligence, ' or medical malpractice' will not support this cause of action." Broughton v. Cutter Lab. , 622 F.2d 458, 460 (9th Cir. 1980) (citing Estelle , 429 U.S. at 105-06). See also McGuckin v. Smith , 974 F.2d 1050, 1060 (9th Cir. 1991) ("A finding that the defendant's neglect was an isolated occurrence' or an isolated exception, '... militates against a finding of deliberate indifference."), overruled on other grounds by WMX Techs., Inc. v. Miller , 104 F.3d 1133 (9th Cir. 1997) (en banc). Likewise, a mere disagreement between plaintiff and defendants as to how the defendants provided him with medical care fails to state a cognizable § 1983 claim. See Toguchi v. Soon Hwang Chung , 391 F.3d 1051, 1058 (9th Cir. 2004); Jackson v. McIntosh , 90 F.3d 330, 332 (9th Cir. 1996); Sanchez v. Vild , 891 F.2d 240, 242 (9th Cir. 1989); Franklin v. Oregon , 662 F.2d 1337, 1344 (9th Cir. 1981). In his amended complaint, plaintiff ...