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Sims v. D. Scanlon

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Francisco Division

June 30, 2017

JAMES MARION SIMS, Plaintiff,
v.
D. SCANLON, Defendant.

          ORDER OF SERVICE RE: ECF NOS. 1, 10

          LAUREL BEELER United States Magistrate Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         James Marion Sims, an inmate currently housed at the California State Prison - Sacramento, filed this pro se prisoner's civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He consented to proceed before a magistrate judge. (ECF No. 2.)[1] The court reviewed the complaint and dismissed it with leave to amend so that Mr. Sims could provide the true name of a defendant. Mr. Sims then filed a one-page “amended complaint” that contains no allegations but does provide the true name of the defendant. This order construes the “amended complaint” to be an amendment to the complaint, and orders service of process on that one defendant.

         STATEMENT

         Mr. Sims alleges the following in his complaint: On April 11, 2014, an unidentified dentist at Salinas Valley State Prison performed unauthorized cosmetic surgery on Mr. Sims. “The dentist cut 2 of [Mr. Sims'] side teeth in half, ” damaging his nerves and making it painful to chew hard food. (ECF No. 1 at 3.) The dentist was “deliberat[ely] indifferent to the pain he knew he could cause” Mr. Sims. (Id.)

         Mr. Sims' “amended complaint” identifies the dentist as D. Scanlon. (ECF No. 10.) The “amended complaint” contains no other allegations.

         ANALYSIS

         A federal court must engage in a preliminary screening of any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 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. See id. at § 1915A(b). Pro se complaints must be liberally construed. See Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010).

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

         Deliberate indifference to an inmate's serious medical needs violates the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1057 (9th Cir. 2004). To establish an Eighth Amendment claim on a condition of confinement, such as medical care, a prisoner-plaintiff must show: (1) an objectively, sufficiently serious, deprivation, and (2) the defendant was, subjectively, deliberately indifferent to the inmate's health or safety. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). Serious medical needs may include dental care needs. See Hunt v. Dental Dep't, 865 F.2d 198, 200 (9th Cir. 1989).

         The court construes the “amended complaint” (ECF No. 10) to be an amendment to the complaint (ECF No. 1), rather than an actual amended complaint. The difference is that an amendment will be read together with the complaint, whereas an amended complaint would supersede the original complaint. See Lacey v. Maricopa County, 693 F.3d 896, 927 (9th Cir. 2012) (en banc).

         The complaint, as amended, alleges that Dr. Scanlon performed unauthorized and damaging dental work that caused pain to Mr. Sims. A cognizable claim Eighth Amendment claim is stated against Dr. Scanlon for deliberate indifference to Mr. Sims' dental needs.

         CONCLUSION

         1. Liberally construed, the complaint, as amended, states a cognizable § 1983 claim against Dr. D. Scanlon for deliberate indifference to Mr. Sims' ...


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