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Hunter v. Sokoloff

United States District Court, N.D. California

February 27, 2015

JOHN DOUGLAS HUNTER, Plaintiff,
v.
MIKE SOKOLOFF, et al., Defendants.

ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

JON S. TIGAR, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

On November 14, 2014, plaintiff, a California prisoner incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison (SQSP) and proceeding pro se, filed the above-titled civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in a separate order. His complaint is now before the Court for review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff claims that SQSP staff used excessive force against him and acted with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. Specifically, his complaint alleges the following:

On November 19, 2012, plaintiff arrived at SQSP from Solano State Prison. He was escorted to the Medical Screening Office by defendant Correctional Officer M. Hutalla. At the Medical Screening Office, he entered a room where defendant Registered Nurse Mike Sokoloff was waiting to interview him. Hutalla left the room but sat just outside the door.

During the interview, Sokoloff produced a bag of medication that he said was for plaintiff and proceeded to remove three capsules from the bag and place them in a cup near plaintiff for plaintiff to take. Plaintiff says the capsules were Dilantin pills, which he took to prevent seizures. As plaintiff was waiting for some water to take with the capsules, he stated that he would take the Dilantin but not the other medication that Sokoloff had for him. Sokoloff told plaintiff that plaintiff would have to take all the medication that Sokoloff had for him or none of it. Plaintiff responded by again stating that he would only take his seizure medication, and he proceeded to take the cup with the Dilantin capsules and put them in his mouth.

Sokoloff then jumped up and started choking plaintiff in an effort to prevent plaintiff from swallowing the pills. Hutalla rushed into the room, and Sokoloff stepped back as Hutalla attempted to choke plaintiff. Hutalla then pried plaintiff's hands open in search of the pills, which at that point plaintiff had already swallowed. As a result of the incident, plaintiff sustained injuries to his neck and lower back.

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 28 U.S.C. § 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).

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." "Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only "give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (citations omitted). Although in order to state a claim 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, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer "enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 1974.

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 ...


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