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McElroy v. Adam

United States District Court, N.D. California

February 23, 2018

E.J. MCELROY, Plaintiff,
ADAM, et al., Defendants.


          YVONNE GONZALEZ ROGERS United States District Judge


         Plaintiff, a state prisoner currently incarcerated at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (“RJDCF”), filed the instant pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against prison officials at two different institutions. His motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) has been granted. He also filed the following motions: a request for appointment of counsel (dkt. 1 at 5); a motion for a preliminary injunction (dkt. 5); and a motion entitled, “Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis Seeking 30-day Enlargement of Time to File IFP Form; Requesting Sanctions in the Form of Constitutional Repair & Restoring & Unhanding All Legal Necessities of[] Defendants” (dkt. 11).

         Specifically, Plaintiff's action involves allegations against Defendants at Pelican Bay State Prison (“PBSP”) and California Health Care Facility (“CHCF”). Because the acts complained of with respect to Defendants at CHCF occurred in San Joaquin County, which lies within the venue of the Eastern District of California, see 28 U.S.C. § 84(b), venue properly lies in that district and not in this one. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). Accordingly, the claims arising at CHCF are DISMISSED without prejudice to Plaintiff refiling them in a new civil rights action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California.[1] See In re Hall, 939 F.2d 802, 804 (9th Cir. 1991) (dismissal on venue grounds without prejudice).

         In his complaint, Plaintiff names the following Defendants who are either at PBSP or employed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”)[2]: PBSP “P.A.C. [Physician Assistant, Certified] or other R.N. [Registered Nurse] Doctor Adam”; CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan; as well as several Doe Defendants, including (1) PBSP “Chief Medical Officer Doe, ” (2) PBSP “Medical Dept. Does and Dental Dept. CDCR Agenc[ies] contracted to provide individual[ized] effective health care, ” (3) “PBSP Doe . . . D.D.S. [Doctor of Dental Surgery], ” (4) PBSP “Medical Supervisor, ” and (5) “7-10 Does” who are PBSP “Medical Record Analysts.” Dkt. 1 at 2-3. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages.


         A. Standard of Review

         A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that 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. Id. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).

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

         B. Plaintiff's Claims

         1. Injunctive Relief Claims

         As mentioned above, Plaintiff seeks both injunctive relief and monetary damages. The jurisdiction of the federal courts depends on the existence of a “case or controversy” under Article III of the Constitution. PUC v. FERC, 100 F.3d 1451, 1458 (9th Cir. 1996). A claim is considered moot if it has lost its character as a present, live controversy, and if no effective relief can be granted: “Where the question sought to be adjudicated has been mooted by developments subsequent to filing of the complaint, no justiciable controversy is presented.” Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 95 (1968). Where injunctive relief is involved, questions of mootness are determined in light of the present circumstances. See Mitchell v. Dupnik, 75 F.3d 517, 528 (9th Cir. 1996).

         When an inmate has been transferred to another prison and there is no reasonable expectation nor demonstrated probability that he will again be subjected to the prison conditions from which he seeks injunctive relief, the claim for injunctive relief should be dismissed as moot. See Dilley v. Gunn, 64 F.3d 1365, 1368-69 (9th Cir. 1995). A claim that the inmate might be re-transferred to the prison where the injury occurred is too speculative to overcome mootness. Id.

         When Plaintiff filed his prior action, he was incarcerated at the CHCF. Plaintiff sought injunctive relief to remedy his alleged injuries stemming from various constitutional violations at CHCF and PBSP. As mentioned above, all claims related to his incarceration at CDCF had been dismissed without prejudice to Plaintiff refiling them in a new civil rights action in the Eastern District. The record shows that he has since been transferred to RJDCF. Because Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated at either CHCF or PBSP, his claims for injunctive relief-specifically such claims based on his confinement at PBSP-are DISMISSED as moot. The Court proceeds to review Plaintiff's remaining claims for monetary damages.

         2. Claims for Monetary Damages

         a. Eighth Amendment Claim

         Deliberate indifference to a prisoner's serious medical needs amounts to the cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1057 (9th Cir. 2004); McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1992), overruled on other grounds by WMX Technologies, Inc. v. Miller, 104 F.3d 1133, 1136 (9th Cir. 1997) (en banc). A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only when two requirements are met: (1) the deprivation alleged is, objectively, sufficiently serious, and (2) the official is, subjectively, deliberately indifferent to the inmate's health or safety. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994).

         It seems that Plaintiff claims that he was not provided with adequate medical and dental care at PBSP, stating as follows:

Prior to [PBSP] adverse transfer (July 2016) claimant was given a bonafide initial medical plan that discovered several or several more painful injuries and symptoms that tie in to ...

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