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Bulandr v. Pelican Bay State Prison

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 28, 2016

IAN ANTHONY BULANDR, Plaintiff,
v.
PELICAN BAY STATE PRISON, Defendant.

          ORDER OF SERVICE

          THELTON E. HENDERSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, an inmate at Pelican Bay State Prison, filed this pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The original complaint was dismissed with leave to amend and Plaintiff has filed an amended complaint.

         I

         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). Pleadings filed by pro se litigants, however, must be liberally construed. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010); Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep’t., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

         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).

         II

         Plaintiff states that he has received inadequate medical care.

         Deliberate indifference to serious medical needs violates the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment. 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 determination of "deliberate indifference" involves an examination of two elements: the seriousness of the prisoner's medical need and the nature of the defendant's response to that need. Id. at 1059.

         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." Id. The existence of an injury that a reasonable doctor or patient would find important and worthy of comment or treatment; the presence of a medical condition that significantly affects an individual's daily activities; or the existence of chronic and substantial pain are examples of indications that a prisoner has a "serious" need for medical treatment. Id. at 1059-60.

         A prison official is deliberately indifferent if he or she knows that a prisoner faces a substantial risk of serious harm and disregards that risk by failing to take reasonable steps to abate it. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994). The prison official must not only “be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, ” but he “must also draw the inference.” Id. If a prison official should have been aware of the risk, but was not, then the official has not violated the Eighth Amendment, no matter how severe the risk. Gibson v. County of Washoe, 290 F.3d 1175, 1188 (9th Cir. 2002). “A difference of opinion between a prisoner-patient and prison medical authorities regarding treatment does not give rise to a § 1983 claim.” Franklin v. Oregon, 662 F.2d 1337, 1344 (9th Cir. 1981).

         Supervisor defendants are entitled to qualified immunity where the allegations against them are simply “bald” or “conclusory” because such allegations do not “plausibly” establish the supervisors’ personal involvement in their subordinates’ constitutional wrong, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675-84 (noting no vicarious liability under Section 1983 or Bivens actions), and unfairly subject the supervisor defendants to the expense of discovery and continued litigation, Henry A. v. Willden, 678 F.3d 991, 1004 (9th Cir. 2012) (general allegations about supervisors’ oversight responsibilities and knowledge of independent reports documenting the challenged conduct failed to state a claim for supervisor liability). So 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). Under no circumstances is there respondeat superior liability under section 1983, which means there is no liability under section 1983 solely because one is purportedly responsible for the actions or omissions of another. See Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989).

         Plaintiff states that he has been denied medical care for his chronic psoriasis and eczema. He states that Nurse Risenhoover denied treatment by refusing creams and ointments that has been working well for Plaintiff. As a result he suffers from bleeding, scabbing, and pain. He also alleges that Dr. Bal denied his requests to see a skin specialist or receive adequate care. Liberally construed these allegations are sufficient to proceed against Risenhoover and Bal.

         Plaintiff also alleges that Chief Executive Officer McClean failed to properly train and supervise staff. Plaintiff has failed to link McClean to any of his specific treatment and seeks to hold her liable as a supervisor. However, there is no respondeat superior liability under section 1983. Because Plaintiff was already provided an opportunity to amend to address ...


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