United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER GRANTING IFP AND DISMISSING COMPLAINT PURSUANT
TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
F. BRENNAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel and in forma
pauperis (ECF No. 17) in an action brought under 42 U.S.C.
Screening Requirement and Standards
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).
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).
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.
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).
alleges that he was incarcerated at the Butte County Jail
from approximately November 15, 2015 until mid-February of
2016. ECF No. 22 at 5. He claims that, during that time,
plumbing leaks caused a puddle to form in the middle of his
cell. Id. at 5-6. He alleges that the puddle - which
he describes as containing toilet water, urine, and fecal
matter - caused foul odors to waft through his cell.
Id. at 6. He also claims that he slipped more than
once on this puddle causing him to injure his knee.
Id. at 7, 14. Plaintiff appears to contend that the
named defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by
failing to adequately fix the leak or move him to a different
Eighth Amendment forbids inhumane conditions of confinement.
Morgan v. Morgensen, 465 F.3d 1041, 1045 (9th Cir.
2006). Only extreme deprivations will give rise to a
cognizable conditions of confinement claim, however.
Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 9 (1992) (citations
and quotations omitted). To sustain such a claim a prisoner
must show that “the prison official deprived the
prisoner of the ‘minimal civilized measure of
life's necessities, '” and that “the
prison official ‘acted with deliberate indifference in
doing so.'” Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d
1051, 1057 (9th Cir. 2004). A defendant acts with deliberate
indifference only where he “knows of and disregards an
excessive risk to inmate health and safety.”
Id. Under this standard “the official must
both be aware of facts from which the inference could be
drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he
must also draw the inference.” Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994). Negligence, even
gross negligence, is not equivalent to deliberate
indifference. Lemire v. Cal. Dep't of Corr. &
Rehab., 726 F.3d 1062, 1082 (9th Cir. Cal. 2013)
(discussing deliberate indifference in the context of inmate
court concludes that the allegations in plaintiff's
complaint, viewed in the light most favorable to him, while
troubling, fail to demonstrate that any of the named
defendants acted with deliberate indifference. By his own
allegations, the jail staff attempted to respond to his
alleges that he submitted an inmate request regarding the
plumbing leak “on or about” January 16, 2016. ECF
No. 22 at 7. Prison officials responded to this request on
January 18, 2016 and informed plaintiff that the issue was on
the prison maintenance log. Id. Plaintiff filed a
grievance on January 20 regarding this same issue and, on
January 21, maintenance workers attempted to fix the leak.
Id. at 7-8. Plaintiff alleges that this maintenance
work did not fix the leak, but he acknowledges that
maintenance continued to work on the problem on three
separate occasions, first on January 25 and again on two
unspecified dates between January 26 and February 10.
Id. at 10-11. These repeated attempts to fix the
leak, though plaintiff avers that each was unsuccessful,
weigh strongly against a finding that the defendants knew of
and disregarded an excessive risk to his safety.
Plaintiff's allegations also indicate that several of the
defendants came to his cell on a number of occasions in order
to ascertain whether the problem had been resolved.
Id. at 9, 11, 13. These efforts also militate
against a finding of deliberate indifference.
claims for slip and fall injuries also fail to state a
cognizable Eighth Amendment claim. Courts have routinely held
that slip and fall injuries do not give rise to cognizable
constitutional claims and instead sound in negligence.
See Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 641 (9th Cir.
1989), superseded by statute as stated in Lopez v.
Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130-31 (9th Cir. 2000) (holding
that slippery prison floors “do not state even an
arguable claim for cruel and unusual punishment.”);
Reynolds v. Powell, 370 F.3d 1028, 1031 (10th Cir.
2004) (“Simply put, a slip and fall, without more, does
not amount to cruel and unusual punishment . . . . Remedy for
this type of injury, if any, must be sought in state court
under traditional tort law principles.” (internal
quotations, brackets and citation omitted)); Aaronian v.
Fresno County Jail, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137724, 2010
WL 5232969, at *2 & *3 (E.D. Cal. 2010) (claim that
plumbing leak caused plaintiff to fall did not raise a
cognizable conditions of confinement claim).
sure, deliberate indifference to conditions known to present
a danger of a slip and fall might support and Eighth
Amendment claim. The Ninth Circuit has held that slippery
floors could give rise to a constitutional claim in the case
of an inmate who was on crutches and had fallen several
times. Frost v. Agnos, 152 F.3d ...