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Hackney v. California Health Care Facility

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 11, 2017

WILLIAM HACKNEY, Plaintiff,
v.
CALIFORNIA HEALTH CARE FACILITY, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          DEBORAH BARNES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges deliberate indifference to his medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment based on medical care he received in December 2013 at the California Health Care Facility (“CHCF”). Before the court are plaintiff's “Motion for a Rand Warning” and his second amended complaint for screening. For the reasons set forth below, the court will deny the motion as moot and dismiss the second amended complaint with leave to amend.

         BACKGROUND

         On screening, plaintiff's first two complaints were dismissed for failure to state a cognizable claim under § 1983 and plaintiff was given leave to file amended complaints. (Orders filed Nov. 18, 2015 and Mar. 11, 2016 (ECF Nos. 12 and 19).) On August 11, 2016, plaintiff filed a second amended complaint. (ECF No. 32.) Three days later, on August 14, 2016, attorney Timothy McCandless file a third amended complaint on plaintiff's behalf. (ECF No. 33.)

         In a filing dated November 9, 2016 and entitled “Motion for ‘Rand Warning, '” plaintiff stated that he did not authorize McCandless to file a complaint on his behalf and requested an investigation into “this fraud.” (ECF No. 36.) The court ordered McCandless to explain why he entered an appearance on plaintiff's behalf. (ECF No. 39.) McCandless filed a declaration on March 22, 2017. (ECF No. 41.) On April 12, plaintiff filed a statement that he had no objection to McCandless's representation. To clarify the record, on May 26, the court ordered McCandless to file a “Substitution of Attorneys” pursuant to Local Rule 182(g) within thirty days. McCandless and plaintiff were advised that if a Substitution of Attorneys was not filed, the court would assume plaintiff continues in this action in pro per and this case would proceed on the second amended complaint filed by plaintiff on August 11, 2016. (ECF No. 45.)

         Thirty days have passed and neither a Substitution of Attorneys nor any other response to the court's May 26 order has been filed. Accordingly, this case proceeds on plaintiff's second amended complaint filed August 11, 2016. (ECF No. 32.)

         MOTION FOR “RAND WARNING”

         As described above, in this filing, plaintiff objected to McCandless's appearance on his behalf and requested an investigation by the attorney general. (ECF No. 36.) Since then, plaintiff has explained that he has no objection to McCandless's representation. (See Apr. 12, 2017 Response (ECF No. 43).) Accordingly, the court considers this motion moot.

         SCREENING

         I. Legal Standards

         The 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).

         A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). The court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis. See Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.

         Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “requires only ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). However, in order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim a complaint must contain more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action;” it must contain factual allegations sufficient “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555. In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Hospital ...


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