United States District Court, E.D. California
a prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has consented to
Magistrate Judge jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(c) and no other party has been served or appeared in the
action. Pending before the court is plaintiff's complaint
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 makes several allegations against a
number of defendants. In his first claim, plaintiff alleges
he was brutalized by several defendants while he was
handcuffed and in leg restraints. He alleges defendants
Dragash, Hendricks, Mohr, Seely and Sparks each participated
in the attack to varying degrees. He further alleges
defendants Hyman, Van, Calahan, Sparks, Givens, Lee and
Ogbeide were all present during the attack, witnessed the
attack, and failed to help plaintiff. Finally, he alleges
defendant Kobba refused to provide him a full body screening
to document his injuries.
second claim, plaintiff alleges he was denied due process by
defendants Macomber, Quinn, Forsterer, Hendricks, Dragash,
Porter, Compton, Burnett, and Eldridge. It is unclear exactly
how plaintiff purports to have been denied due process, but
it appears plaintiff was offered a lower reimbursement amount
for damage to a book than he thought was fair. Plaintiff
apparently did not accept the amount offered, and the
defendants attempted to force him to accept the lowered
amount. It further appears that plaintiff is claiming the
defendants falsified documents during the 602 appeals
third claim, plaintiff alleges retaliation by defendants
Dragash, Hendricks, Porter, Compton, Burnett, and Quinn.
Again, this claim is unclear, but it appears to be related to
the reimbursement and 602 inmate grievance mentioned above.
Plaintiff alleges the defendants destroyed evidence, acted
with disregard to his 602 grievance, and that defendant
Dragash threatened reprisal just before the above mentioned
in his fourth claim, plaintiff alleges denial of equal
protection and racial profiling. This claim is similarly
unclear, but appears to relate to verbal harassment by
defendants Dragash, Seely, Van, and Mohr, who allegedly used
racial epithets toward plaintiff.
complaint appears to state a cognizable claim for relief
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b) against some of the defendants for some of the
claims. However, as discussed below, the complaint fails to
state a claim against all of the defendants for all of the
claims. The complaint appears to state an Eighth Amendment
claim against defendants Dragash, Hendricks, Mohr, Seely and
Sparks for their participation in the physical altercation,
and against defendants Hyman, Van, Calahan, Sparks, Givens,
Lee and Ogbeide for failure to protect plaintiff from the
physical abuse. If the allegations are proven, plaintiff has
a reasonable opportunity to prevail on the merits of this
action. The court, therefore, finds that service is
appropriate and will direct service by the U.S. Marshal
without pre-payment of costs. Plaintiff is informed, however,
that this action cannot proceed further until plaintiff
complies with this order, as set out below. Plaintiff is
warned that failure to comply with this order may result in
dismissal of the action. See Local Rule 110.
extent plaintiff claims defendants Macomber, Quinn,
Forsterer, Hendricks, Dragash, Porter, Compton, Burnett, and
Eldridge violated his due process rights, such an allegation
fails to state a cognizable claim for which relief could be
granted. Similarly, his claim for retaliation against
defendants Dragash, Hendricks, Porter, Compton, Burnett, and
Quinn, his claim regarding the verbal harassment against
defendants Dragash, Seely, Van, and Mohr, and his Eighth
Amendment claim against defendant Kobba, are all insufficient
to state a cognizable claim.
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 ...