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Brown v. Gastello

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 25, 2016

DEXTER BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
CARMEN GASTELLO, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IFP AND DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

          EDMUND F. BRENNAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in an action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, and an extension of time to complete service of process.

         I. Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Plaintiff’s application makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1) and (2). Accordingly, by separate order, the court directs the agency having custody of plaintiff to collect and forward the appropriate monthly payments for the filing fee as set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) and (2).

         II. Screening Requirement and Standards

         Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint “is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, ” or “seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” Id. § 1915A(b).

         A pro se plaintiff, like other litigants, must satisfy the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8(a)(2) “requires a complaint to include a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 554, 562-563 (2007) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). While the complaint must comply with the “short and plaint statement” requirements of Rule 8, its allegations must also include the specificity required by Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).

         To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim a complaint must contain more than “naked assertions, ” “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-557. In other words, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Furthermore, a claim upon which the court can grant relief must have facial plausibility. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. When considering whether a complaint states a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must accept the allegations as true, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007), and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, see Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).

         III. Screening Order

         The court has reviewed plaintiff’s complaint (ECF No. 1) pursuant to § 1915A and finds that it must be dismissed with leave to amend for failure to state a claim. Plaintiff alleges that defendant Gastello threatened to withhold his life-sustaining hemodialysis treatments if he did not consent to certain medical exams, blood tests, and medical examinations. He also claims that defendant Davita Incorporated committed “medical battery” by examining plaintiff over his refusal. Plaintiff also names numerous Doe defendants, and states that he will later amend his complaint when he learns of the Doe defendants’ true legal names.[1] Plaintiff claims that defendants have violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. Under the legal standards discussed below, plaintiff’s allegations fail to state a cognizable claim. To proceed, plaintiff must file an amended complaint.

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 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). An individual defendant is not liable on a civil rights claim unless the facts establish the defendant’s personal involvement in the constitutional deprivation or a causal connection between the defendant’s wrongful conduct and the alleged constitutional deprivation. See Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 646 (9th Cir. 1989); Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743-44 (9th Cir. 1978). That is, plaintiff may not sue any official on the theory that the official is liable for the unconstitutional conduct of his or her subordinates. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). He must identify the particular person or persons who violated his rights. He must also plead facts showing how that particular person was involved in the alleged violation.

         Imposing unwanted medical treatment on an inmate does not constitute a due process violation if the treatment is “reasonably related to legitimate penological interests.” Washington v. Harper, 494 U.S. 210, 223 (1990); id. at 225 (“The State has undertaken the obligation to provide prisoners with medical treatment consistent not only with their own medical interests, but also with the needs of the institution. Prison administrators have not only an interest in ensuring the safety of prison staffs and administrative personnel, . . . but the duty to take reasonable measures for the prisoners’ own safety.”); see also Runnels v. Rosendale, 499 F.2d 733, 735 (9th Cir. 1974) (“Allegations that prison medical personnel preformed major surgical procedures upon the body of an inmate, without his consent and over his known objections, that were not required to preserve his life or further a compelling interest of imprisonment or prison security, may [be sufficient to state a cognizable Fourteenth Amendment due process claim].”). The bare allegations that prison officials forced upon plaintiff various exams, tests, or medications as a condition to providing him life-saving hemodialysis treatments fail to state a plausible due process claim. Plaintiff has not shown that the “forced” medical tests and procedures were not reasonably related to a legitimate penological interest.

         Likewise, the allegations are insufficient to state a proper claim for relief under the Eighth Amendment. The Eighth Amendment protects prisoners from inhumane methods of punishment and from inhumane conditions of confinement. Morgan v. Morgensen, 465 F.3d 1041, 1045 (9th Cir. 2006). Extreme deprivations are required to make out a conditions of confinement claim, and only those deprivations denying the minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities ...


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