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Genthner v. Clovis Community Hospital

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 21, 2016



          BARBARA A. McAULIFFE, District Judge.

         Plaintiff Debby Genthner ("Plaintiff"), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, initiated this civil action on April 25, 2016. On April 28, 2016, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint based on the failure to adequately allege this Court's subject matter jurisdiction. The Court directed Plaintiff to file an amended complaint within thirty days. Doc. 3. Plaintiff's first amended complaint, filed on May 27, 2016, is currently before the Court for screening. Doc. 4.

         Screening Requirement

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by persons proceeding in pro per. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Plaintiff's complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         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)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)). While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, courts "are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences." Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         Pro se litigants are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor, Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121-1123 (9th Cir. 2012), Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010), but to survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. United States Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         Plaintiff's Allegations

         As with her original complaint, Plaintiff brings suit against Clovis Community Hospital and Nurse Practitioner David Stone. Plaintiff alleges that she went to the Clovis Community Hospital Emergency room for treatment of severe burn damages to her mouth and throat on April 21, 2014. Doc. 4 at 1. Plaintiff contends that Defendant Stone examined her mouth and throat and offered her a prescription for the sores in her mouth. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Stone should have seen the burn damage. Her throat was raw, she had sores all around her mouth, the sides of her mouth had deep burn marks and she had a deep pit on one side and a cut mark on the other.

         Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Stone made her sit in the waiting room for four and a half hours and suffer with a burning mouth. She was not offered any pain medication. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Stone should have examined and treated her right away or called in specialist to look at her injuries. Plaintiff contends that she tried to explain her injuries to Defendant Stone, but all he could do was mentally abuse her and tell her that her sore throat caused the sides of her mouth to swell up. Plaintiff also contends that Defendant Stone should have reported the damages to the authorities.

         Plaintiff asserts claims for violation of her civil rights, negligence, and failure to report her injuries.


         A. Fourteenth Amendment

         In her First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Stone violated her rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by failing to properly diagnose, treat and report the severe burn damages to her mouth and throat.

         The Fourteenth Amendment provides that no State shall "make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1. Generally, only "state action [is] subject to Fourteenth Amendment scrutiny and private conduct... is not." Brentwood Acad. v. Tenn. Secondary Sch. Athletic Ass'n,531 U.S. 288, 295 (2001); Jackson v. Metropolitan,419 U.S. 345, 349 (1974) ("private action is immune from the restrictions of the Fourteenth Amendment"). However, private action may be considered State action if "there is such a close nexus between the State and the challenged action' that seemingly private behavior may be fairly treated as that of the State itself.'" Brentwood Acad., 531 U.S. at 295 (citation omitted); Jac ...

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