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Lear v. Conanan

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 17, 2015

ANDREW LEAR, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. CONANAN, et al., Defendants.

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND GRANTING PLAINTIFF LEAVE TO FILE AN AMENDED COMPLAINT AMENDED COMPLAINT DUE IN THIRTY DAYS

GARY S. AUSTIN, Magistrate Judge.

I. Screening Requirement

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 has consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).[1]

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious, " that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that... the action or appeal... fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

"Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions, " none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Pursuant to Rule 8(a), 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). "Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. However, "the liberal pleading standard.... applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations." Nietze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n. 9 (1989). "[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled." Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997)(quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).

II. Plaintiff's Claims

Plaintiff, an inmate in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) at Avenal State Prison, brings this action against defendant correctional officials employed by the CDCR at Avenal. Plaintiff names as defendants Dr. Conanan and Physician's Assistant (PA) Blackwell. Plaintiff's claim stems from the denial of his request for hernia surgery.

Plaintiff alleges that on May 19, 2011, he was seen by Dr. Conanan regarding an abdominal hernia. Plaintiff told Dr. Conanan that the hernia was causing him severe pain and his daily activities were "heavily impeded." Dr. Conanan refused Plaintiff's request for hernia surgery. Plaintiff alleges that "it is clearly obvious that Plaintiff is in pain, and that the hernia is getting worse, as it can be observed from the bump which protrudes from the area of the hernia." Plaintiff alleges that, in his view, refusing an operation to close the hernia "will obviously result in a more extensive surgery due to the delay in repairing the problem now in a timely manner, and also to alleviate the pain and suffering of the Plaintiff."

Plaintiff attaches as an exhibit to his complaint copies of an inmate grievance he filed regarding this issue, along with the responses to his grievance. The response to Plaintiff's grievance at the second level, from California Correctional Health Care Services, indicates the following.

Your appeal was assigned at the First Level Review on May 23, 2011. You were interviewed by M. Blackwell, PA-C, on June 17, 2011, in order to give you an opportunity to fully explain your appeal. PA Blackwell documented that you had a small reducible hernia and surgery is not medically indicated at this time. PA Blackwell advised you to keep your follow up appointment.
Your appeal was assigned at the Second Level on July 22, 2011. A review of your Unit Health Record (UHR) and relevant documents was conducted by the Chief Medical Executive's office on July 27, 2011, indicated that there are no changes in your UHR since you last examination with PA Blackwell on June 17, 2011.
Your request for surgery to prevent the diagnosed hernia from getting worse is denied as you were examined on June 17, 2011 by PA Blackwell and he documented that you had a small reducible hernia and surgery is not medically indicated at this time. Your appeal remains denied at the Second Level Review.

C. Eighth Amendment

Under the Eighth Amendment, the government has an obligation to provide medical care to those who are incarcerated. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1131 (9th Cir. 2000). "In order to violate the Eighth Amendment proscription against cruel and unusual punishment, there must be a deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners.'" Id. (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97. 104 (1976)). Lopez takes a two-prong approach to evaluating whether medical care, or lack thereof, rises to the level of "deliberate indifference." First, a court must examine whether the plaintiff's medical needs ...


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