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Ponce v. Wang

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 24, 2016

RAUL PONCE, Plaintiff,
v.
WANG, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING CLAIMS WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (DOC. 1.)

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Raul Ponce ("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 filed the Complaint commencing this action on April 21, 2015, (ECF No. 1), which is now before this Court for screening.

         On May 11, 2015, Plaintiff consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction in this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and no other parties have made an appearance. (Doc. 8.) Therefore, pursuant to Appendix A(k)(4) of the Local Rules of the Eastern District of California, the undersigned shall conduct any and all proceedings in the case until such time as reassignment to a District Judge is required. Local Rule Appendix A(k)(3).

         II. LEGAL STANDARDS FOR SCREENING

         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. Swierkiewicz 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." Neitze 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)).

         III. PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

         Plaintiff alleges in his complaint that he was improperly denied pain medication for back pain. Prior to Plaintiff's transfer from Salinas Valley State Prison, to Corcoran State prison, he was taking tramadol, methadone, T3, and Gabapitin for pain management. Plaintiff suffered from back complications and spasm. Defendants Wang, Macias, Clark, Gill and Ulit knew or should have known about the existing medication condition. Nevertheless, they failed to provide Plaintiff with the pain medication and refused to refer Plaintiff to a back specialist. Plaintiff's back pain makes it difficult to sleep and causes him depression.

         IV. DELIBERATE INDIFFERENCE

         a. Legal Standards

         The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution entitles Plaintiff to medical care and is violated when a prison official acts with deliberate indifference to an inmate's serious medical needs. Snow v. McDaniel, 681 F.3d 978, 985 (9th Cir. 2012), overruled in part on other grounds, Peralta v. Dillard, 744 F.3d 1076, 1082-83 (9th Cir. 2014); Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1122 (9th Cir. 2012); Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006). Plaintiff "must show (1) a serious medical need by demonstrating that failure to treat [his] condition could result in further significant injury or the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain, " and (2) that "the defendant's response to the need was deliberately indifferent." Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1122 (citing Jett, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006)). Deliberate indifference is shown by "(a) a purposeful act or failure to respond to a prisoner's pain or possible medical need, and (b) harm caused by the indifference." Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1122 (citing Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096). The requisite state of mind is one of subjective recklessness, which entails more than ordinary lack of due care. Snow, 681 F.3d at 985 (citation and quotation marks omitted); Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1122.

         "Liability under [§] 1983 arises only upon a showing of personal participation by the defendant. A supervisor is only liable for the constitutional violations of...subordinates if the supervisor participated in or directed the violations, or knew of the violations and failed to act to prevent them. There is no respondeat superior liability under [§] 1983." Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989) (citations omitted). Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant, through his or her own individual actions, violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676; Corales v. Bennett, 567 F.3d 554, 570 (9th Cir. 2009).

         b. Analysis of Plaintiff's Allegations

         The Court finds that Plaintiff has not stated a claim for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. Plaintiff has alleged that he suffers from back pain and has previously been prescribed certain medications, and that he is not receiving those medications at this time. But Plaintiff has not alleged facts that would show that his failure to receive pain medication is based on a deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, rather than a difference in medical opinion about whether he needs the medication. Alleging that certain doctors did not follow recommendations of prior doctors does not state a constitutional ...


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