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Guerra v. Kern County Sheriff's Department

United States District Court, E.D. California

October 10, 2014

JOAQUIN GUERRA, Plaintiff,
v.
KERN COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING DISMISSAL OF CLAIMS AGAINST DEFENDANTS IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES

BARBARA A. McAULIFFE, Magistrate Judge.

I. Screening Requirement and Standard

Plaintiff Joaquin Guerra ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff initiated this action while a pre-trial detainee at the Kern County Jail. On June 10, 2014, the Court dismissed the complaint with leave to amend. Plaintiff's first amended complaint, filed on July 7, 2014, is currently before the Court for screening.

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity and/or against an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Plaintiff's complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2); 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, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)). While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, 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).

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). To survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, 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, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. United States 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, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss , 572 F.3d at 969.

II. Plaintiff's Allegations

Plaintiff is currently housed at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in Corcoran, California. The events alleged in the complaint occurred while Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee housed at the Kern County Jail. Plaintiff names Deputy Sheriff Chris Sweeney, Officer Feely, and an unknown nurse, Jane Doe #1, as defendants in their individual and official capacities.

Plaintiff alleges as follows:

On May 28-2012 after being booked into the Kern County Jail I asked bothe Arresting Officer Chris Sweeney & booking Officer Feely if I could get medical attention for a bad eye. At that time one of the officers asked the Jane Doe #1 Nurse if she would see me she looked my way and denied me even though I told Jane Doe #1 Nurse and officer Sweeney & Feely that I was in servier pain. Just by looking at me I needed medical attention my eye was chut and it was dischargeing liquid it was obvious I need to go to the hospital because Officer Feely said that (Jane Doe #1) Nurse never sends anyone to the (Hospital) and/or KMC right after he said this all of them Officer Sweeney & Feely, (Jane Doe #1 Nurse) started luaghing and jokeing.

(ECF No. 11, pp. 3-4) (unedited text). Plaintiff seeks payment of his medical bills, continued medical care and compensatory damages for lost sight in his right eye.

III. Discussion

A. Official Capacity - Eleventh Amendment

An official capacity claim is another way of pleading a claim against the government entity of which the official is an agent. Monell v. Department of Social Services , 436 U.S. 658, 690 n. 55, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978). Plaintiff's claims against defendants in their official ...


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