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West v. Hulbert

United States District Court, E.D. California

November 6, 2017

MACK A. WEST, Jr, Plaintiff,
v.
D. HULBERT, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER WITHDRAWING FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION AND GRANTING LEAVE TO FILE THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT (DOCS. 19, 26)

          JENNIFER L. THURSTON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         A. Background

         Plaintiff seeks to proceed on claims of failure to protect and deliberate indifference under the Eighth Amendment based on circumstances surrounding an event where he attempted to commit suicide using a “metal bind.” On July 19, 2017, the Court issued Findings and Recommendations allowing Plaintiff to proceed on an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant C/O Ornales and Jane Doe #1. It dismissed the allegations against Defendant Hulbert because they were not cognizable. Further, though Plaintiff originally named additional defendants, he only named these three in the First Amended Complaint. Thus, the Court recommended all other defendants and claims against them be deemed dismissed.

         Plaintiff filed objections to the F&R in which he now describes the metal bind and circumstances under which Defendant Hulbert necessarily should have seen it and not given the package of legal mail to Plaintiff until it was removed. Because of this new information, Plaintiff is granted one final opportunity to amend his allegations and is again given the pleading and legal standards under which his allegations in a third amended complaint will be screened.[1]

         B. Screening Requirement

         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, malicious, 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); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). If an action is dismissed on one of these three basis, a strike is imposed per 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). An inmate who has had three or more prior actions or appeals dismissed as frivolous, malicious, or for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and has not alleged imminent danger of serious physical injury does not qualify to proceed in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g); Richey v. Dahne, 807 F.3d 1201, 1208 (9th Cir. 2015).

         C. Pleading Requirements

         1. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)

         “Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions, ” none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a). A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . .” Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a). “Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512.

         Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009), quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.”' Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Factual allegations are accepted as true, but legal conclusions are not. Iqbal. at 678; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556-557.

         While “plaintiffs [now] face a higher burden of pleadings facts . . ., ” Al-Kidd v. Ashcroft, 580 F.3d 949, 977 (9th Cir. 2009), the pleadings of pro se prisoners are still construed liberally and are afforded the benefit of any doubt. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). However, "the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations, " Neitze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989), "a liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled, " Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982), and courts are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences, Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The “sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully” is not sufficient, and “facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability” fall short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         D. Eighth Amendment -- Failure to Protect

         “The treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994) (citing Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993). Prison officials have a duty “to take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of inmates, which has been interpreted to include a duty to protect prisoners.” Labatad v. Corrections Corp. of America, 714 F.3d 1155, 1160 (9th Cir. 2013) (citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at 832-33; Hearns v. Terhune, 413 F.3d 1036, 1040 (9th Cir. 2005)).

         To establish a violation of this duty, the prisoner must “show that the officials acted with deliberate indifference to threat of serious harm or injury to an inmate.” Labatad, at 1160 (citing Gibson v. County of Washoe, 290 F.3d 1175, 1187 ...


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