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Perry v. Johnson

United States District Court, N.D. California

March 10, 2015

JOHNSON, et. al., Defendants.


HOWARD R. LLOYD, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a complaint against officials at the North County Detention Facility ("NCDF") in Sonoma County pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted in a separate order.


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 (1988).

B. Plaintiff's Claims

Plaintiff claims that during his arrest on April 8, 2014, he injured his left wrist. (Compl. at 3.) When he arrived at NCDF, he made several complaints about the pain in his wrist. However, Defendant Dr. Ryan assured him that nothing was wrong with him. ( Id. ) Four hours later, he was given pain medication, which was continued for four days after his arrest. ( Id. ) On April 14, 2014, Plaintiff received a memo stating that an x-ray showed no fracture. ( Id. ) Another x-ray on April 24, 2014, indicated "no fracture." A couple of months later on June 24, 2014, Plaintiff received another x-ray which revealed a small fracture in his wrist which was considered a "new fracture." Plaintiff argues that he did nothing to fracture his wrist during the interim, and implies that the Defendants' failure to accurately diagnose the fracture sooner resulted in extreme pain and mistreatment. ( Id. ) At best, Plaintiff may be attempting to state a claim of deliberate indifference to serious medical needs, but he fails to state specific factual allegations against each named Defendant to state a cognizable claim.

In amending his complaint, Plaintiff is advised of the following. Deliberate indifference to serious medical needs violates the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1992). 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. See McGuckin, 974 F.2d 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." McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1059 (citing Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104). 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 (citing Wood v. Housewright, 900 F.2d 1332, 1337-41 (9th Cir. 1990)).

A prison official is deliberately indifferent if he 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 (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 he "must also draw the inference." Id . In order for deliberate indifference to be established, therefore, there must be a purposeful act or failure to act on the part of the defendant and resulting harm. See McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1060; Shapley v. Nevada Bd. of State Prison Comm'rs, 766 F.2d 404, 407 (9th Cir. 1985).

Here, Plaintiff has failed to allege the two essential elements to state an Eighth Amendment claim against each named Defendant. The only Defendant he mentions by name is Defendant Dr. Ryan in the "statement of claim, " and even there he fails to allege facts indicating that she knew Plaintiff faced a substantial risk of serious harm and disregarded that rusk by failing to state reasonable steps to abate it. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. Furthermore, he makes no specific allegations against named Defendants "Grievance Officer (DGO) Johnson... Lieutenant House... Dr. Fadakis... P. A. Hatt... P. A. Harford... [and] J. Anderson NP." (Compl. at 2.) He shall be granted leave to file an amended complaint to attempt to state sufficient facts to support an Eighth Amendment claim against each intended Defendant.


For the foregoing reasons, the Court orders as follows:

1. The complaint is DISMISSED with leave to amend. Within twenty-eight (28) days of the date this order is filed, Plaintiff shall file an amended complaint using the court's form complaint. The amended complaint must include the caption and civil case number used in this order, i.e., Case No. C 14-04320 HRL (PR), and the words "FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT" on the ...

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