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Zambrano v. Golding

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 24, 2019

ERIC GOLDING, et al., Defendants.


          HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. '" United States District Judge.


         Plaintiff, an inmate at Pelican Bay State Prison (“PBSP”), filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that PBSP correctional officials were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in a separate order. His complaint (Dkt. No. 1) is now before the Court for review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.


         A. Standard of Review

         A federal court must engage in a preliminary screening of any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity, or from an officer or an 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 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 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) (1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “Specific facts are not necessary; the statement 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) (citations omitted). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. . . . Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570.

         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. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

         B. Complaint

         According to the complaint, while playing basketball, Plaintiff suffered an injury to his right knee that constituted a medical emergency. From July 27, 2018 to January 25, 2019, Defendants refused to look at him; taunted him; made jokes about him; were negligent to him; treated him with malice, oppression, and fraud; made him walk around without medical equipment; and treated him with “courses that made no sense.” As a result, Plaintiff ended up requiring surgery for a completely torn medical meniscus and may require further surgery, and is now disabled for life. Plaintiff names as defendants RN Eric Golding, Dr. Elise Williams, RN Jasmine Yang, Dr. Devinder Kumar, RN Amy Olsen, and PBSP staff John Does.

         The complaint will be DISMISSED with leave to amend because it suffers from the following deficiency. The complaint does not give the defendants fair notice of the claim because it fails to link each defendant to a specific constitutional violation. In his amended complaint, Plaintiff must be careful to allege facts showing the basis for liability for each defendant. He should not refer to them as a group (e.g. “the defendants”); rather, he should identify each involved defendant by name and link each of them to his claims by explaining what each defendant did or failed to do that caused a violation of his constitutional rights. See Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988) (liability may be imposed on individual defendant under § 1983 only if plaintiff can show that defendant proximately caused deprivation of federally protected right).

         To assist Plaintiff in preparing the amended complaint, the Court reviews some of the relevant legal principles.

         Supervisory Liability.

         There is no respondeat superior liability under section 1983, i.e. no liability under the theory that one is liable simply because he employs a person who has violated a plaintiff's rights. See Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978); Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). A supervisor may be liable under section 1983 upon a showing of (1) personal involvement in the constitutional deprivation or (2) a sufficient causal connection ...

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