United States District Court, E.D. California
DEBORAH BARNES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis
with a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff's first amended complaint is before the court
for screening. In his complaint, plaintiff alleges the air
quality at Mule Creek State Prison (“MCSP”) was
so poor that it worsened his Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary
Disease (“COPD”) and his overall health.
Plaintiff also complains that he was celled with another
inmate in a single cell. For the reasons set forth below, the
court finds plaintiff has stated a potentially cognizable
Eighth Amendment claim based on air quality but has not
stated a claim based on being celled with another inmate.
Plaintiff will be given an opportunity to amend his
filed his original complaint on April 8, 2016. (ECF No. 1.)
Plaintiff alleged that he suffered worsening of his COPD and
other health problems due to the poor air quality in his cell
and in the day room at MCSP. Plaintiff identified as
defendants “Unknown CDC Employees” and the Prison
Law Office (“PLO”). Plaintiff sought injunctive
relief in the form of: (1) an order requiring MCSP to be
compliant with federal air quality standards; (2) a 30-day
monitor of MCSP for “water, air, medical, food service
areas;” and (3) the assignment of new attorneys for the
plaintiff class in Plata v. Brown.
screening, the court found plaintiff failed to allege
cognizable claims for relief and informed plaintiff that he
must identify at least one person who was aware of the air
quality problems plaintiff alleged, knew those air quality
issues could or did affect inmate health, had the authority
to take action to remedy the problem, and failed to take that
action. The court also informed plaintiff that his requests
for injunctive relief were moot because he is no longer
incarcerated at MCSP. (Mar. 28, 2017 Order (ECF No. 12) at
6.) The court dismissed the complaint with leave to amend.
April 24, plaintiff filed a first amended complaint. (ECF No.
court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or
employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or
portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are
legally “frivolous or malicious, ” that fail to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) & (2).
first amended complaint, plaintiff identifies one defendant:
Warden Joe Lizarraga. Plaintiff contends defendant Lizarraga
was aware that plaintiff was a “high risk medical
inmate with cronic COPD and emphysema” but nonetheless
exposed plaintiff to “hazardous materials such as dust,
” “irritating pollens, ” and
“asbestos generated by rock crushing quarries in the
area.” (ECF No. 15 at 4.) Plaintiff contends the air
circulation and filtering systems at MCSP were inadequate.
Plaintiff alleges he suffered daily asthma attacks and
constant stress that aggravated his heart condition and that
his lung condition worsened. Plaintiff also complains that he
was double celled in a cell designed for one inmate. He seeks
compensatory and punitive damages, and an order requiring he
be placed in a single cell permanently.
allegations that defendant Lizarraga was aware of
plaintiff's health conditions and the poor air quality
and failed to remedy the problem state a potentially
cognizable claim that defendant Lizarraga was deliberately
indifferent to plaintiff's serious medical needs in
violation of the Eighth Amendment. See Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 847 (1994) (“[A] prison
official may be held liable under the Eighth Amendment for
denying humane conditions of confinement only if he knows
that inmates face a substantial risk of serious harm and
disregards that risk by failing to take reasonable measures
to abate it.”).
has not, however, stated any sort of claim regarding his
placement in a single cell with another inmate. Plaintiff
does not show defendant was even aware of that placement,
much less that he was deliberately indifferent to a
substantial risk of serious harm to plaintiff. Nor has
plaintiff shown that being celled with another inmate caused
him any harm. Overcrowding by itself is not a constitutional
violation, Doty v. County of Lassen, 37 F.3d 540,
545 n.1 (9th Cir. 1994), and the denial of single cell status
by itself does not rise to the level of an Eighth Amendment
violation, Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337 (1981).
will be given another opportunity to amend his complaint to
attempt to state a cognizable claim based on being celled
with another inmate. Plaintiff is reminded that any amended
complaint must be complete in itself without reference to any
prior pleading. E.D. Cal. R. 220. Once plaintiff files an
amended complaint, any prior pleadings are superseded.
is advised that he need not amend his complaint. If he
chooses not to do so, this case will proceed on his Eighth
Amendment claim against ...