United States District Court, N.D. California
CHARLES L. STEVENSON, Plaintiff,
SAN FRANCISCO COUNTY JAIL MEDICAL SERVICES, Defendant.
ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND RE: DKT. NO.
ILLSTON United States District Judge
Stevenson, an inmate at the San Francisco County Jail,
California, filed a pro se civil rights complaint
seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The complaint is
now before the Court for review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
alleges the following in his complaint: Since his arrival at
the San Francisco County Jail on September 19, 2014, he has
gained over 80 pounds. Stevenson now has serious mobility
issues, chronic back pain, and experiences pain most of every
night. He suffered two compression fractures on his spine in
2011. He has “been denied medication without cause or
reason, ” denied checkups, and denied chronos for
unspecified medical supplies. Docket No. 1 at 3. His inmate
appeals are “absent of due process.” Id.
federal court must engage in a preliminary screening of any
case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental
entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review the
court must identify any cognizable claims, and dismiss any
claims which 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. See
Id. at § 1915A(b). Pro se pleadings must
be liberally construed. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police
Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege two elements: (1) that a right secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States was violated and
(2) that the violation was committed by a person acting under
the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S.
42, 48 (1988).
Inmate Medical Care Claims
does not allege whether he was a pretrial detainee or had
been convicted when the events and omissions giving rise to
the complaint occurred. His status affects the analysis of
his claims because a convicted prisoner's medical care
claim arises under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution, whereas a pretrial detainee's medical care
claim arises under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution. Until recently, the standards were considered
roughly the same under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments,
see generally Carnell v. Grimm, 74 F.3d 977, 979
(9th Cir. 1996), but more recently, the two standards have
diverged with respect to the mental state requirement for a
defendant. Due to the differences in the Eighth and
Fourteenth Amendment claims, an inmate-plaintiff's status
at the time of the relevant events must be known because some
conduct that violates the Fourteenth Amendment won't
violate the Eighth Amendment. If a plaintiff has transitioned
from being a pretrial detainee to a convict (or vice-versa),
both standards may need to be applied -- with one standard
being applied to the events that occurred when the person was
a pretrial detainee and a different standard being applied to
the events that occurred after he was convicted.
indifference to a prisoner's serious medical needs
violates the Eighth Amendment. See Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); Toguchi v.
Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1057 (9th Cir. 2004). A defendant
violates the Eighth Amendment only 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. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834
(1994). In the medical care context, the prisoner first must
identify an objectively serious medical need. See Wilhelm
v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1122 (9th Cir. 2012) (serious
medical need exists if “failure to treat a
prisoner's condition could result in further significant
injury or the unnecessary and wanton infliction of
pain.”) Second, the prisoner must allege that the
defendant acted with the requisite mental state of deliberate
indifference to a risk to the prisoner's health. Under
the Eighth Amendment standard applicable to prisoner claims,
a defendant is deliberately indifferent if he 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, 511 U.S. at 837. The defendant
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
pretrial detainee challenges conditions of his confinement,
the proper inquiry is whether the conditions amount to
punishment in violation of the Due Process Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment. See Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S.
520, 535 n.16 (1979). An inmate claiming that jail officials
have responded inadequately to his medical needs while he was
a pretrial detainee must establish two elements to state a
claim under § 1983. First, he must identify an
objectively serious medical need. See Wilhelm, 680
F.3d at 1122. Second, he must allege that a defendant acted
with the requisite mental state of deliberate indifference to
the risk to the inmate's health. It appears that a
pretrial detainee must allege facts to show that a defendant
“did not take reasonable measures to abate that risk,
even though a reasonable officer in the circumstances would
have appreciated the high degree or risk involved--making the
consequences of the defendant's conduct obvious.”
Castro v. County of Los Angeles, 833 F.3d 1060, 1071
(9th Cir. 2016 (en banc), cert. denied 2017 WL
276190 (U.S. Jan. 23, 2017).
of medical malpractice or mere negligence is insufficient to
make out a violation of the Eighth Amendment or the
Fourteenth Amendment. See Toguchi, 391 F.3d at
1060-61; Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 744 (9th
Cir. 2002); Castro, 833 F.3d at 1071.