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Knight v. Monterey County Jail

United States District Court, N.D. California

May 31, 2017

BOBBY RAY KNIGHT, Plaintiff,
v.
MONTEREY COUNTY JAIL; CAPTAIN JAMES H. BASS; DR. ELIUD GARCIA, Defendants.

          ORDER OF SERVICE; INSTRUCTIONS TO CLERK

          William Alsup, United States District Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, an inmate at North Kern State Prison, filed this civil rights case under 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging that he fell down stairs while housed at the Monterey County Jail due to defendants' failure provide him adequate medical care and to take adequate safety precautions. He is granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in a separate order. For the reasons discussed below, the complaint is ordered served upon defendants James H. Bass and Dr. Eliud Garcia. The claims against Monterey County Jail are dismissed.

         ANALYSIS

         A. Standard of Review

         Federal 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). 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. Id. at 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

         Federal 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.

         To 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 deprivation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

         B. Legal Claims

         When liberally construed, plaintiff's allegations state cognizable claims that defendants Captain James H. Bass and Dr. Eliud Garcia were deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's safety and medical needs by failing to provide him adequate treatment for his low blood pressure, provide safety railings on the stairs to the bathroom or room on the stairs for his walker, in violation of his federal constitutional rights.

         Plaintiff also names the Monterey County Jail as a defendant. The Monterey County Jail is a building, not a municipal entity. It would appear that plaintiff means to sue Monterey County, and if that is the case, he must allege that his injuries were caused by a policy or custom at the jail. See Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978); see also Board of Cty. Comm'rs. of Bryan Cty. v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 403 (1997) (county may not be held vicariously liable for the unconstitutional acts of its employees under the theory of respondeat superior). To allege a claim against the County of Monterey, plaintiff has to file an amended complaint in which he alleges that: (1) his fall down the stairs violated his constitutional rights; (2) Monterey County had a policy; (3) this policy amounts to deliberate indifference to plaintiff's constitutional rights; and (4) this policy is the moving force behind plaintiff's fall down the stairs. See Plumeau v. School Dist. #40 County of Yamhill, 130 F.3d 432, 438 (9th Cir. 1997).

         CONCLUSION

         For the reasons set out above, it is ...


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