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Duckett v. Corizon PHS

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 20, 2016

JAMES MAURICE DUCKETT, Plaintiff,
v.
CORIZON PHS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

          KANDIS A. WESTMORE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff James Maurice Duckett, a state prisoner incarcerated at Santa Rita County Jail (“SRCJ”), has filed a pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging the violation of his constitutional rights by SRCJ and Corizon PHS. Plaintiff has consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge over this action. Plaintiff’s motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis is granted in a separate order. The Court now reviews Plaintiff’s complaint.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Preliminary Review of Complaint

         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. 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. Id. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. 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. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

         Liability may be imposed on an individual defendant under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 if the plaintiff can show that the defendant’s actions both actually and proximately caused the deprivation of a federally protected right. Lemire v. Cal. Dept. Corrections & Rehabilitation, 756 F.3d 1062, 1074 (9th Cir. 2013); Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988); Harris v. City of Roseburg, 664 F.2d 1121, 1125 (9th Cir. 1981). A person deprives another of a constitutional right within the meaning of section 1983 if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative act or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do, that causes the deprivation of which the plaintiff complains. Leer, 844 F.2d at 633.

         Under no circumstances is there respondeat superior liability under § 1983. Lemire, 756 F.3d at 1074. Or, in layman's terms, under no circumstances is there liability under section 1983 solely because one is responsible for the actions or omissions of another. Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989); Ybarra v. Reno Thunderbird Mobile Home Village, 723 F.2d 675, 680-81 (9th Cir. 1984). A supervisor may be liable under § 1983 upon a showing of (1) personal involvement in the constitutional deprivation or (2) a sufficient causal connection between the supervisor's wrongful conduct and the constitutional violation. Henry A. v. Willden, 678 F.3d 991, 1003-04 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1207 (9th Cir. 2011)). It is insufficient for a plaintiff only to allege that supervisors knew about the constitutional violation and that they generally created policies and procedures that led to the violation, without alleging “a specific policy” or “a specific event” instigated by them that led to the constitutional violations. Hydrick v. Hunter, 669 F.3d 937, 942 (9th Cir. 2012).

         II. Plaintiff’s Claim

         The complaint alleges that Plaintiff has a long history of glaucoma and has pain in both eyes and vision problems. He needs eye drops and eye glasses. He has requested to be seen by an optometrist, but was only put on a list. Finally, he saw an optometrist at Corizon Health Care. The optometrist diagnosed his glaucoma but denied Plaintiff the eye drops he needs.

         These allegations indicate that Plaintiff is attempting to state an Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference to his serious medical need.

         Deliberate indifference to a prisoner’s serious medical needs violates the Eighth Amendment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1992), overruled on other grounds, WMX Technologies, Inc. v. Miller, 104 F.3d 1133, 1136 (9th Cir. 1997) (en banc). A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment when two requirements are met: (1) the deprivation alleged is, objectively, sufficiently serious, and (2) the official is, subjectively, deliberately indifferent to the inmate’s health or safety. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). 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. A prison official exhibits deliberate indifference when he knows of and disregards a substantial risk of serious harm to inmate health or safety. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. Such indifference may appear when prison officials deny, delay or intentionally interfere with medical treatment, or it may be shown in the way in which prison officials provide medical care. McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1062.

         Plaintiff’s allegations appear to meet the objective prong of the Farmer test in that his glaucoma appears to be a serious medical need. However, even liberally construed, the allegations do not meet Farmer’s subjective prong because they do not indicate that any individual knew of Plaintiff’s glaucoma and delayed or denied him treatment for it. Plaintiff states that the Corizon optometrist diagnosed his glaucoma and did not prescribe the necessary eye drops. If Plaintiff named this optometrist as a defendant, the allegations, liberally construed, would appear to state a claim against her. However, the allegations do not state a claim against SRCJ or Corizon Health Care because there is no supervisorial liability under § 1983.

         Therefore, the claims against SRCJ and Corizon are dismissed. However, Plaintiff is granted leave to amend to name as defendants the individual or individuals who denied, delayed ...


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