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Savage v. Alameda County Sheriff's Dep't

United States District Court, N.D. California

November 25, 2014

MICHAEL SAVAGE, Plaintiff,
v.
ALAMEDA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT., et al., Defendants

Michael Savage, Plaintiff, Pro se, Oakland, CA.

ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

HOWARD R. LLYOYD, United States Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a complaint against officials at Santa Rita Jail (" SRJ") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted in a separate order.

DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that 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. See id. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must, however, be liberally construed. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential 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 the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48, 108 S.Ct. 2250, 101 L.Ed.2d 40 (1988).

B. Plaintiff's Claims

Plaintiff claims that on May 19, 2014, he fell from the top bunk and injured his back while getting out of bed. He asserts that there are no ladders or steps for climbing up and down the bunk beds. Plaintiff claims that he was denied a bottom bunk chrono after hurting himself by Dr. D. Moore, the building physician. Plaintiff claims that the jail staff is " causing injuries that is foreseeable by not fixing the bunks to safeguard against injuries." Plaintiff also claims that the jail's maximum security, where he is presumably being housed, lacks flat screen television, has no early release programs or vocational programs. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and damages for his pain and injury. (Compl. at 3-4.)

1. Unsafe Conditions

The Eighth Amendment requires that prison officials take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of prisoners. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832, 114 S.Ct. 1970, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994). The failure of prison officials to protect inmates from dangerous conditions at the prison violates the Eighth Amendment only when two requirements are met: (1) the deprivation alleged is, objectively, sufficiently serious; and (2) the prison official is, subjectively, deliberately indifferent to inmate safety. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. In order to state a " failure-to-protect" claim, allegations in a pro se complaint must be sufficient to raise an inference that the named prison officials acted with deliberate indifference -- i.e, that they knew that plaintiff faced a substantial risk of serious harm and disregarded that risk by failing to take reasonable measures to abate it. Hearns v. Terhune, 413 F.3d 1036, 1041-42 (9th Cir. 2005).

Neither negligence nor gross negligence will constitute deliberate indifference. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835-36 & n.4; Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106, 97 S.Ct. 285, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976). A prison official cannot be held liable under the Eighth Amendment for denying an inmate humane conditions of confinement unless the standard for criminal recklessness is met, i.e., the official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety by failing to take reasonable steps to abate it. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. The official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference. See id.

Assuming that the absence of a ladder or other support for a bunk bed is sufficiently serious, Plaintiff's claim is insufficient because he fails to allege sufficient facts to show the subjective prong for a " failure-to-protect" claim, i.e., that a specifically named official both knew that Plaintiff faced a substantial risk of serious harm and disregarded that risk by failing to take reasonable measures to abate it. Hearns, 413 F.3d at 1041-42. Although he names Sheriff Gregory Ahem and Sergeant MacIntire as defendants to this action, (Compl. at 2), he fails to state facts sufficient to show that they were directly responsible for the dangerous conditions in the prison. His statement of claim makes no mention of them and ...


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