United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND
MARIA-ELENA JAMES United States Magistrate Judge
a California state inmate, filed this pro se civil rights
complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that
defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious
medical needs. Plaintiff is granted leave to proceed in forma
pauperis in a separate order. For the reasons stated below,
the complaint is dismissed with leave to amend.
Standard of Review
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). Pro se
pleadings must be liberally construed, however.
Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d
696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” “Specific facts are not
necessary; the statement need only ‘give the defendant
fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon
which it rests.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 127
S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (citations omitted). Although in
order to state a claim a complaint “does not need
detailed factual allegations, . . . a plaintiff's
obligation to provide the grounds of his ‘entitle[ment]
to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and
a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do. . . . Factual allegations must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955,
1964-65 (2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer
“enough facts to state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face.” Id. at 1974.
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).
complaint, plaintiff alleges that defendant prison officials
and staff delayed in diagnosing and treating a cancerous
tumor in his right leg. Even after he finally received
surgery, plaintiff alleges, defendants failed to provide
necessary pain relief and physical accommodations and failed
to follow discharge orders from the outside hospitals that
treated him. Plaintiff alleges that this deficient medical
treatment began at Pelican Bay State Prison
(“PBSP”), where we was incarcerated from 2013 to
July 2015, and at California State Prison, Sacramento
(“CSP-SAC”), where he was transferred in July
2015 so that he could be closer to his treatment facility.
indifference to a prisoner's serious medical needs
violates the Eighth Amendment's proscription against
cruel and unusual punishment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 104 (1976). 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.
McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir.
1992), overruled on other grounds by WMX Technologies,
Inc. v. Miller, 104 F.3d 1133, 1136 (9th Cir. 1997) (en
banc). A prison official acts with deliberate indifference 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 v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
837 (1994). 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 inference.” Id. If
the defendant should have been aware of the risk, but was
not, then he 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).
negligence nor gross negligence warrant liability under the
Eighth Amendment. Id. at 835-36 & n4. An
“official's failure to alleviate a significant risk
that he should have perceived but did not, . . . cannot under
our cases be condemned as the infliction of
punishment.” Id. at 838. Instead, “the
official's conduct must have been ‘wanton, '
which turns not upon its effect on the prisoner, but rather,
upon the constraints facing the official.” Frost v.
Agnos, 152 F.3d 1124, 1128 (9th Cir. 1998) (citing
Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 302-03 (1991)).
Prison officials violate their constitutional obligation only
by “intentionally denying or delaying access to medical
care.” Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104-05.
construed, the complaint adequately alleges a claim for
deliberate indifference to serious medical needs in violation
of the Eighth Amendment as against defendants N. Adams, MD
and D. Bodenhammer, PA-C. However, the complaint does not
state a claim against the other defendants plaintiff
identifies by name. In addition to Adams and Bodenhammer,
plaintiff names M. Sayre, MD, J. Bal, MD, J. Arriola, RN, C.
Regules, and J. Lewis as defendants, but provides no facts
linking them to his allegations of wrongdoing. Even at the
pleading stage, “[a] plaintiff must allege facts, not
simply conclusions, that show that an individual was
personally involved in the deprivation of his civil
rights.” Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193,
1194 (9th Cir. 1998); Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628,
634 (9th Cir. 1988). Plaintiff's allegations will be
dismissed with leave to amend to show what actions each
defendant took or failed to take that caused the Eighth
Amendment violations. Sweeping conclusory allegations will
not suffice; plaintiff must instead “set forth specific
facts as to each individual defendant's deliberate
indifference.” Leer, 844 F.2d at 634.
Court notes that plaintiff names M. Sayre in his capacity as
Chief Medical Officer for PBSP, C. Regules in his capacity as
the Chief Support Executive for CSP-SAC, and J. Lewis in his
capacity as the Deputy Director for Policy and Risk
Management Services at California Correctional Healthcare
Services. Plaintiff is advised that a supervisor is not
liable merely because the supervisor is responsible, in
general terms, for the actions 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 only on a
showing of (1) personal involvement in the constitutional