United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER: (1) GRANTING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS (ECF Doc. No. 2) AND (2) DISMISSING COMPLAINT FOR FAILING TO STATE A CLAIM PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) & 1915A(b)
GONZALO P. CURIEL, District Judge.
Franklin Andrade, Jr. ("Plaintiff"), currently incarcerated at George Bailey Detention Facility ("GBDF") in San Diego, California and proceeding pro se, has filed a civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has also filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) (ECF No. 2)
I. MOTION TO PROCEED IFP
All parties instituting any civil action, suit or proceeding in a district court of the United States, except an application for writ of habeas corpus, must pay a filing fee of $400. See 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). An action may proceed despite a plaintiff's failure to prepay the entire fee only if he is granted leave to proceed IFP pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). See Rodriguez v. Cook, 169 F.3d 1176, 1177 (9th Cir. 1999). However, a prisoner granted leave to proceed IFP remains obligated to pay the entire fee in installments, regardless of whether his action is ultimately dismissed. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) & (2); Taylor v. Delatoore, 281 F.3d 844, 847 (9th Cir. 2002).
The Court finds that Plaintiff has submitted an affidavit which complies with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), and that he has attached a certified copy of his trust account statement pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2) and S.D. CAL. CIVLR 3.2. Plaintiff's trust account statement shows that he has insufficient funds from which to pay an initial partial filing fee. Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP (ECF No. 2) and assesses no initial partial filing fee per 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). However, the Court further orders the Watch Commander at George Bailey Detention Facility to garnish the entire $350 balance of the filing fees owed in this case, collect and forward them to the Clerk of the Court pursuant to the installment payment provisions set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).
II. SCREENING PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) & 1915A(b)
The Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA")'s amendments to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 also obligate the Court to review complaints filed by all persons proceeding IFP and by those, like Plaintiff, who are "incarcerated or detained in any facility [and] accused of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the terms or conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or diversionary program, " "as soon as practicable after docketing." See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b). Under these provisions, the Court must sua sponte dismiss any prisoner civil action and all other IFP complaints, or any portions thereof, which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim, or which seek damages from defendants who are immune. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A; Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (§ 1915(e)(2)); Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 446 n.1 (9th Cir. 2000) (§ 1915A).
"To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated; and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under color of state law." Campbell v. Washington Dep't of Soc. Servs., 671 F.3d 837, 842 n.5 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing Ketchum v. Alameda Cnty., 811 F.2d 1243, 1245 (9th Cir. 1987)).
First, to the extent Plaintiff alleges that the "San Diego County Sheriff's Department, " and the "San Diego Sheriff's Department Medical Service" have violated his constitutional rights, his Complaint fails to state a claim because these entities are not "persons" subject to suit under § 1983. Neither a local law enforcement department (like the San Diego County Sheriff's Office), a jail (like the San Diego County Jail), or a state agency (like the California Department of Corrections), are proper defendants under § 1983. See Vance v. County of Santa Clara, 928 F.Supp. 993, 996 (N.D. Cal. 1996) ("Naming a municipal department as a defendant is not an appropriate means of pleading a § 1983 action against a municipality.") (citation omitted); Powell v. Cook County Jail, 814 F.Supp. 757, 758 (N.D. Ill. 1993) ("Section 1983 imposes liability on any person' who violates someone's constitutional rights under color of law.' Cook County Jail is not a person.');
While the County of San Diego itself may be considered a "person" and therefore, a proper defendant under § 1983, see Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978); Hammond v. County of Madera, 859 F.2d 797, 801 (9th Cir. 1988), Plaintiff has not named the County as a Defendant. Moreover, as a municipality, the County may be held liable under § 1983-but only where the Plaintiff alleges facts to show that a constitutional deprivation was caused by the implementation or execution of "a policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted and promulgated" by the County, or a "final decision maker" for the County. Monell, 436 U.S. at 690; Board of the County Commissioners v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 402-04 (1997); Navarro v. Block, 72 F.3d 712, 714 (9th Cir. 1995). In other words, "respondeat superior and vicarious liability are not cognizable theories of recovery against a municipality." Miranda v. Clark County, Nevada, 279 F.3d 1102, 1109-10 (9th Cir. 2002). "Instead, a Monell claim exists only where the alleged constitutional deprivation was inflicted in execution of a government's policy or custom.'" Id. (quoting Monell, 436 U.S. at 694).
As currently pleaded, Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state a claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) because he has failed to allege any facts which "might plausibly suggest" that either the County itself, or any individual County employee (a "person"), like Sheriff Gore, violated his constitutional rights. See Hernandez v. County of Tulare, 666 F.3d 631, 637 (9th Cir. 2012) (applying Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009)'s pleading standards to Monell claims); Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978) (42 U.S.C. § 1983 provides for relief only against those who, through their personal involvement as evidenced by affirmative acts, participation in another's affirmative acts, or failure to perform legally required duties, cause the deprivation of plaintiff's constitutionally protected rights).
Plaintiff does make general allegations of refusal by unnamed medical staff to provide him with medication he was receiving before he was incarcerated. Where an inmate's claim is one of inadequate medical care, the inmate must allege "acts or omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to serious medical needs." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). Such a claim has two elements: "the seriousness of the prisoner's medical need and the nature of the defendant's response to that need." McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1991), overruled on other grounds by WMX Techs., Inc. v. Miller, 104 F.3d 1133, 1136 (9th Cir. 1997). A medical need is serious "if the failure to treat the prisoner's condition could result in further significant injury or the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.'" McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1059 (quoting Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104). Indications of a serious medical need include "the presence of a medical condition that significantly affects an individual's daily activities." Id. at 1059-60. By establishing the existence of a serious medical need, an inmate satisfies the objective requirement for proving an Eighth Amendment violation. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994).
In general, deliberate indifference may be shown when prison officials deny, delay, or intentionally interfere with a prescribed course of medical treatment, or it may be shown by the way in which prison medical officials provide necessary care. Hutchinson v. United States, 838 F.2d 390, 393-94 (9th Cir. 1988). Before it can be said that a inmate's civil rights have been abridged with regard to medical care, however, "the indifference to his medical needs must be substantial. Mere indifference, ' negligence, ' or medical malpractice' will not support this cause of action." Broughton v. Cutter Laboratories, 622 F.2d 458, 460 (9th Cir. 1980) (citing Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105-06). See also Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1060 (9th Cir. 2004).
While Plaintiff may be able to allege additional facts to support an Eighth Amendment claim against individually named medical staff, he currently only pleads facts that demonstrate a difference of opinion. A mere difference of opinion between an inmate and prison medical personnel regarding appropriate medical diagnosis and treatment are not enough to ...