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Diaz v. Griffith

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 30, 2017

JORGE DIAZ, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. GRIFFITH, D.O., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          KENDALL J. NEWMAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, with an action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff consented to proceed before the undersigned for all purposes. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Plaintiff's complaint was dismissed with leave to file an amended complaint. Plaintiff has now filed an amended complaint.

         II. Screening Standards

         The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 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. 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 when 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 See Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989), superseded by statute as stated in Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130-31 (9th Cir. 2000) (“[A] judge may dismiss [in forma pauperis] claims which are based on indisputably meritless legal theories or whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.”); 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)). 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.” Id. at 555. However, “[s]pecific facts are not necessary; the statement [of facts] need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555, citations and internal quotations marks omitted). In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93, and construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overruled on other grounds, Davis v. Scherer, 468 U.S. 183 (1984).

         III. Improper Defendants

         Plaintiff again names as defendants the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) and the California Correctional Health Care Services (“CCHCS”). As plaintiff was previously advised, these are not proper defendants. State agencies, such as the CDCR, and CCHCS, are immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment. See Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66 (1989); Lucas v. Dep't of Corr., 66 F.3d 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995) (per curiam) (holding that prisoner's Eighth Amendment claims against CDCR for damages and injunctive relief were barred by Eleventh Amendment immunity); Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984) (Eleventh Amendment immunity extends to state agencies). Thus, these defendants are dismissed.

         IV. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff claims that his first doctor advised plaintiff that he had a mild heart attack and that he needed surgery, which is noted in his medical files. Plaintiff contends that defendant Dr. Griffith failed to provide plaintiff with stronger pain medications and surgery. Plaintiff claims that Dr. Griffith and Dr. Kelley are failing to follow other doctors' orders to provide plaintiff surgery. Plaintiff states that he has sought a second opinion “to clarify what the doctor said about needing surgery, ” but that Dr. Griffith and Dr. Kelley insist that plaintiff must pay for any second opinion. As injury, plaintiff claims his heart hurts “very strongly, ” and that he is stressed because he fears he will have a heart attack. Plaintiff contends that these defendant doctors are not following his first doctor's orders, and are interfering with his medical care. In addition to monetary damages, plaintiff seeks an MRI and a second opinion with non-CDCR doctors as to whether heart surgery is required.

         V. Medical Standards

         The Eighth Amendment protects prisoners from inhumane methods of punishment and inhumane conditions of confinement. Morgan v. Morgensen, 465 F.3d 1041, 1045 (9th Cir. 2006). Extreme deprivations are required to make out a conditions-of-confinement claim, and “only those deprivations denying the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities are sufficiently grave to form the basis of an Eighth Amendment violation.” Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 9 (1992) (citation omitted). “Prison officials have a duty to ensure that prisoners are provided adequate shelter, food, clothing, sanitation, medical care, and personal safety.” Johnson v. Lewis, 217 F.3d 726, 731 (9th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted). “The circumstances, nature, and duration of a deprivation of these necessities must be considered in determining whether a constitutional violation has occurred.” Id. “The more basic the need, the shorter the time it can be withheld.” Id. (citations omitted).

         To prevail on an Eighth Amendment claim predicated on the denial of medical care, a plaintiff must show that: (1) he had a serious medical need; and (2) the defendant's response to the need was deliberately indifferent. Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, ...


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