United States District Court, E.D. California
M. KELLISON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
a state prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the
court is plaintiff's complaint (Doc. 1).
court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or
employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or
portion thereof if it: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2)
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; or
(3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2).
Moreover, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that
complaints contain a “short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). This means that claims must be stated
simply, concisely, and directly. See McHenry v.
Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996) (referring to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(e)(1)). These rules are satisfied if the
complaint gives the defendant fair notice of the
plaintiff's claim and the grounds upon which it rests.
See Kimes v. Stone, 84 F.3d 1121, 1129 (9th Cir.
1996). Because plaintiff must allege with at least some
degree of particularity overt acts by specific defendants
which support the claims, vague and conclusory allegations
fail to satisfy this standard. Additionally, it is impossible
for the court to conduct the screening required by law when
the allegations are vague and conclusory.
complaint plaintiff alleges that he suffered a broken jaw
from an assault by a cellmate. He was transported and treated
at Renown Regional Medical Center where defendant Wrye
performed surgery to repair the damage. At a follow up visit
with Dr. Wrye, plaintiff informed Dr. Wrye that he was
hearing bone popping and his teeth were not aligned. Dr. Wrye
removed the wire anyway. At a second follow up visit,
plaintiff informed Dr. Wrye that he was experiencing pain. A
month later, he saw a dentist at the prison for the pain, who
recommended him to an oral surgeon. The oral surgeon, Dr.
Landis, recommended a second surgery, which was successfully
performed a few months later. He is requesting a transfer to
a facility where he will receive adequate medical treatment,
proper medication for his pain, examination by another
specialist, physical therapy, monetary damages for his pain
and suffering, and protection from cruel and unusual
complaint suffers from a few deficiencies. It appears
plaintiff is attempting to set forth an Eighth Amendment
claim for cruel and unusual punishment based on medical
treatment. However, his allegations are insufficient to state
treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions
under which the prisoner is confined are subject to scrutiny
under the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual
punishment. See Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31
(1993); Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994).
The Eighth Amendment “. . . embodies broad and
idealistic concepts of dignity, civilized standards,
humanity, and decency.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 102 (1976). Conditions of confinement may, however,
be harsh and restrictive. See Rhodes v. Chapman, 452
U.S. 337, 347 (1981). Nonetheless, prison officials must
provide prisoners with “food, clothing, shelter,
sanitation, medical care, and personal safety.”
Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1107 (9th Cir.
1986). A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only
when two requirements are met: (1) objectively, the
official's act or omission must be so serious such that
it results in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of
life's necessities; and (2) subjectively, the prison
official must have acted unnecessarily and wantonly for the
purpose of inflicting harm. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at
834. Thus, to violate the Eighth Amendment, a prison official
must have a “sufficiently culpable mind.” See
indifference to a prisoner's serious illness or injury,
or risks of serious injury or illness, gives rise to a claim
under the Eighth Amendment. See Estelle, 429 U.S. at
105; see also Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. This applies
to physical as well as dental and mental health needs.
See Hoptowit v. Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1253 (9th Cir.
1982). An injury or illness is sufficiently serious if the
failure to treat a prisoner's condition could result in
further significant injury or the “unnecessary and
wanton infliction of pain.” McGuckin v. Smith,
974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1992); see also Doty v.
County of Lassen, 37 F.3d 540, 546 (9th Cir. 1994).
Factors indicating seriousness are: (1) whether a reasonable
doctor would think that the condition is worthy of comment;
(2) whether the condition significantly impacts the
prisoner's daily activities; and (3) whether the
condition is chronic and accompanied by substantial pain.
See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1131-32 (9th Cir.
2000) (en banc).
requirement of deliberate indifference is less stringent in
medical needs cases than in other Eighth Amendment contexts
because the responsibility to provide inmates with medical
care does not generally conflict with competing penological
concerns. See McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1060. Thus,
deference need not be given to the judgment of prison
officials as to decisions concerning medical needs. See
Hunt v. Dental Dep't, 865 F.2d 198, 200 (9th Cir.
1989). The complete denial of medical attention may
constitute deliberate indifference. See Toussaint v.
McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1111 (9th Cir. 1986). Delay in
providing medical treatment, or interference with medical
treatment, may also constitute deliberate indifference.
See Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1131. Where delay is alleged,
however, the prisoner must also demonstrate that the delay
led to further injury. See McGuckin, 974 F.2d at
in diagnosing or treating a medical condition does not,
however, give rise to a claim under the Eighth Amendment.
See Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106. Moreover, a difference
of opinion between the prisoner and medical providers
concerning the appropriate course of treatment does not give
rise to an Eighth Amendment claim. See Jackson v.
McIntosh, 90 F.3d 330, 332 (9th Cir. 1996).
plaintiff names his first surgeon, Dr. Wrye, as a defendant.
However, he fails to explain how Dr. Wrye violated his Eighth
Amendment rights. It does not appear that Dr. Wrye failed to
provide plaintiff treatment as plaintiff alleges he performed
surgery. Nor is there any allegation that Dr. Wrye somehow
acted with deliberate indifference to plaintiff's medical
needs. If plaintiff's claim is that the surgery was
unsuccessful, at best that would lead to a negligence or
medical malpractice action, not an Eighth Amendment
addition, plaintiff names both the current and former warden
of the facility, as well as the chief medical officer.
However, there are no factual allegations related to any of
these other named defendants.
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiff must
allege an actual connection or link between the actions of
the named defendants and the alleged deprivations. See
Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658
(1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976).
“A person ‘subjects' another to the
deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of
§ 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in
another's affirmative acts, or omits to perform an act
which he is legally required to do that causes the
deprivation of which complaint is made.” Johnson v.
Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). Vague and
conclusory allegations concerning the involvement of official
personnel in civil rights violations are not sufficient.
See Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 ...