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Rooke v. Chappell

United States District Court, N.D. California

November 20, 2014

PETE ROOKE, Plaintiff,
v.
KEVIN CHAPPELL, et al., Defendants

Pete Rooke, Plaintiff, Pro se, San Quentin, CA.

ORDER OF SERVICE

JAMES DONATO, United States District Judge.

Re: Dkt. No. 4

Plaintiff, a state prisoner, proceeds with a pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis and he has filed a motion for a preliminary injunction.

DISCUSSION

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the Court must identify any cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. at 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only " a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Although a complaint " does not need detailed factual allegations, . . . a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. . . . Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer " enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. The United States Supreme Court has explained the " plausible on its face" standard of Twombly : " While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that: (1) a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48, 108 S.Ct. 2250, 101 L.Ed.2d 40 (1988).

II. LEGAL CLAIMS

Plaintiff alleges that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs by discontinuing his lower bunk chrono and failing to make it permanent. Deliberate indifference to serious medical needs violates the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104, 97 S.Ct. 285, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976); McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1992), overruled on other grounds, WMX Technologies, Inc. v. Miller, 104 F.3d 1133, 1136 (9th Cir. 1997) (en banc). A determination of " deliberate indifference" involves an examination of two elements: the seriousness of the prisoner's medical need and the nature of the defendant's response to that need. Id. at 1059.

A serious medical need exists if the failure to treat a prisoner's condition could result in further significant injury or the " unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain." Id. The existence of an injury that a reasonable doctor or patient would find important and worthy of comment or treatment, the presence of a medical condition that significantly affects an individual's daily activities, or the existence of chronic and substantial pain are examples of indications that a prisoner has a serious need for medical treatment. Id. at 1059-60.

A prison official is deliberately indifferent if he or she knows that a prisoner faces a substantial risk of serious harm and disregards that risk by failing to take reasonable steps to abate it. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837, 114 S.Ct. 1970, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994). The prison official must not only " be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, " but also " must also draw the inference." Id. If a prison official should have been aware of the risk, but did not actually know, the official has not violated the Eighth Amendment, no matter how severe the risk. Gibson v. County of Washoe, 290 F.3d 1175, 1188 (9th Cir. 2002). " A difference of opinion between a prisoner-patient and prison medical authorities regarding treatment does not give rise to a § 1983 claim." Franklin v. Oregon, 662 F.2d 1337, 1344 (9th Cir. 1981). In addition " mere delay of surgery, without more, is insufficient to state a claim of deliberate medical indifference.... [Prisoner] would have no claim for deliberate medical indifference unless the denial was harmful." Shapley v. Nevada Bd. Of State Prison Comm'rs, 766 F.2d 404, 407 (9th Cir. 1985).

Plaintiff states that he is 67 years-old, cannot stand for more than 15 minutes without the need to sit, and cannot lift anything over 15 pounds. He states that it is extremely difficult to lift himself up to an upper bunk in his cell. He states that he currently has a lower bunk chrono but defendants have denied his request to make it permanent and have discontinued it. He seeks injunctive relief in this action. This claim is sufficient to proceed.

Plaintiff also seeks a preliminary injunction providing him with a permanent lower bunk. " 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, 172 L.Ed.2d 249 (2008) (citation omitted). " The proper legal standard for preliminary injunctive relief requires a party to demonstrate '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.'" Stormans, Inc. v. Selecky, 586 F.3d 1109, 1127 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Winter, 555 U.S. at 20).

To show irreparable harm, the " plaintiff must show that he is under threat of suffering 'injury in fact' that is concrete and particularized; the threat must be actual and imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical; it must be fairly traceable to the challenged action of the defendant; and it must be likely that a favorable judicial decision will prevent or redress the injury." Summers v. Earth Island Inst., 555 U.S. 488, 493, 129 S.Ct. 1142, 173 L.Ed.2d 1 (2009) (citing Friends of Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Servs. (TOC), Inc., 528 U.S. 167, 180-181, 120 S.Ct. 693, 145 L.Ed.2d 610 (2000)). In sum, an injunction " may only be awarded upon a clear showing that the plaintiff is entitled to relief." Winter, 555 U.S. at 22.

While plaintiff has met his burden for the underlying case to proceed, he has failed to meet the heightened standard for a preliminary injunction. Plaintiff includes a memorandum from prison medical officials which states that permanent lower bunks are in a critical shortage and are only given to patients who require them the most, and it provides a list of guidelines for doctors to follow. Plaintiff only presents general allegations that he needs a permanent lower bunk but this is insufficient to demonstrate that he is likely to succeed on the merits or that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm.

III. CONCLUSION

1. The motion for a preliminary injunction (Docket No. 4) is DENIED.

2. The clerk shall issue a summons and the United States Marshal shall serve, without prepayment of fees, copies of the complaint with attachments and copies of this order on the following defendants: Kevin Chappell, Dr. Tootell, Dr. Pachinski, and Dr. Linda Pratt at San Quentin State Prison.

3. In order to expedite the resolution of this case, the court orders as follows:

a. No later than sixty days from the date of service, defendant shall file a motion for summary judgment or other dispositive motion. The motion shall be supported by adequate factual documentation and shall conform in all respects to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, and shall include as exhibits all records and incident reports stemming from the events at issue. If defendant is of the opinion that this case cannot be resolved by summary judgment, he shall so inform the court prior to the date his summary judgment motion is due. All papers filed with the court shall be promptly served on the plaintiff.

b. At the time the dispositive motion is served, defendant shall also serve, on a separate paper, the appropriate notice or notices required by Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952, 953-954 (9th Cir. 1998) (en banc), and Wyatt v. Terhune, 315 F.3d 1108, 1120 n. 4 (9th Cir. 2003). See Woods v. Carey, 684 F.3d 934, 940-941 (9th Cir. 2012) ( Rand and Wyatt notices must be given at the time motion for summary judgment or motion to dismiss for nonexhaustion is filed, not earlier); Rand at 960 (separate paper requirement).

c. Plaintiff's opposition to the dispositive motion, if any, shall be filed with the court and served upon defendant no later than thirty days from the date the motion was served upon him. Plaintiff must read the attached page headed " NOTICE -- WARNING, " which is provided to him pursuant to Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952, 953-954 (9th Cir. 1998) (en banc), and Klingele v. Eikenberry, 849 F.2d 409, 411-12 (9th Cir. 1988).

If defendant files a motion for summary judgment claiming that plaintiff failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies as required by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), plaintiff should take note of the attached page headed " NOTICE -- WARNING (EXHAUSTION), " which is provided to him as required by Wyatt v. Terhune, 315 F.3d 1108, 1120 n. 4 (9th Cir. 2003).

d. If defendant wishes to file a reply brief, he shall do so no later than fifteen days after the opposition is served upon him.

e. The motion shall be deemed submitted as of the date the reply brief is due. No hearing will be held on the motion unless the Court so orders at a later date.

4. All communications by plaintiff with the court must be served on defendant, or defendant's counsel once counsel has been designated, by mailing a true copy of the document to defendants or defendants' counsel.

5. Discovery may be taken in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. No further court order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(a)(2) is required before the parties may conduct discovery.

6. It is the plaintiff's responsibility to prosecute this case. Plaintiff must keep the Court informed of any change of address by filing a separate paper with the clerk headed " Notice of Change of Address, " and must comply with the Court's orders in a timely fashion. Failure to do so may result in the dismissal of this action for failure to prosecute pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b).

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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