United States District Court, E.D. California
M. COTA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
a prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court
is Plaintiff's complaint (ECF No. 1).
court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or
employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or
portion thereof if it: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2)
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; or
(3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2).
Moreover, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that
complaints contain a ". . . short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). This means that claims
must be stated simply, concisely, and directly. See
McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996)
(referring to Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(e)(1)). These rules are
satisfied if the complaint gives the defendant fair notice of
the plaintiff's claim and the grounds upon which it
rests. See Kimes v. Stone, 84 F.3d 1121, 1129 (9th
Cir. 1996). Because plaintiff must allege with at least some
degree of particularity overt acts by specific defendants
which support the claims, vague and conclusory allegations
fail to satisfy this standard. Additionally, it is impossible
for the court to conduct the screening required by law when
the allegations are vague and conclusory.
names E. Palko as defendant. The allegations outlined in the
complaint may be summarized as follows:
26th, 2016, Plaintiff informed a correctional officer that he
felt suicidal. The officer placed Plaintiff in a small
holding cell under restraints and called the psychologist,
Defendant E. Palko. Plaintiff waited for four hours before
Defendant arrived. When Defendant arrived, three prison
officials said Plaintiff was not suicidal. However, Plaintiff
told Defendant that he wanted to hang himself with a
bedsheet. Nevertheless, Defendant cleared Plaintiff and sent
him back to his cell. After Plaintiff returned to his cell,
he made a noose from his bedsheets and began to hang himself.
An officer witnessed Plaintiff's actions and intervened.
The officer placed Plaintiff in handcuffs and returned him to
the small holding cell, where he remained for another four
hours until taken to a crisis center.
alleges the following claims: (1) Defendant violated
Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights by demonstrating
deliberate indifference to his suicidal intentions; and (2)
Defendant intentionally inflicted emotional distress by
forcing him to wait in a small holding under restraint for
several hours. Plaintiff does not specify which four-hour
time period he attributes to the Defendant's actions.
Eighth Amendment - Indifference to Suicidal
treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions
under which the prisoner is confined are subject to scrutiny
under the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual
punishment. See Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31
(1993); Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994).
The Eighth Amendment ". . . embodies broad and
idealistic concepts of dignity, civilized standards,
humanity, and decency." Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 102 (1976). Conditions of confinement may, however,
be harsh and restrictive. See Rhodes v. Chapman, 452
U.S. 337, 347 (1981). Nonetheless, prison officials must
provide prisoners with "food, clothing, shelter,
sanitation, medical care, and personal safety."
Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1107 (9th Cir.
1986). A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only
when two requirements are met: (1) objectively, the
official's act or omission must be so serious such that
it results in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of
life's necessities; and (2) subjectively, the prison
official must have acted unnecessarily and wantonly for the
purpose of inflicting harm. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at
834. Thus, to violate the Eighth Amendment, a prison official
must have a "sufficiently culpable mind." See
indifference to a prisoner's serious illness or injury,
or risks of serious injury or illness, gives rise to a claim
under the Eighth Amendment. See Estelle, 429 U.S. at
105; see also Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. This applies
to physical as well as dental and mental health needs.
See Hoptowit v. Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1253 (9th Cir.
1982). An injury or illness is sufficiently serious if the
failure to treat a prisoner's condition could result in
further significant injury or the ". . . unnecessary and
wanton infliction of pain." McGuckin v. Smith,
974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1992); see also Doty v.
County of Lassen, 37 F.3d 540, 546 (9th Cir. 1994).
Factors indicating seriousness are: (1) whether a reasonable
doctor would think that the condition is worthy of comment;
(2) whether the condition significantly impacts the
prisoner's daily activities; and (3) whether the
condition is chronic and accompanied by substantial pain.
See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1131-32 (9th Cir.
2000) (en banc).
requirement of deliberate indifference is less stringent in
medical needs cases than in other Eighth Amendment contexts
because the responsibility to provide inmates with medical
care does not generally conflict with competing penological
concerns. See McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1060. Thus,
deference need not be given to the judgment of prison
officials as to decisions concerning medical needs. See
Hunt v. Dental Dep't, 865 F.2d 198, 200 (9th Cir.
1989). The complete denial of medical attention may
constitute deliberate indifference. See Toussaint v.
McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1111 (9th Cir. 1986). Delay in
providing medical treatment, or interference with medical
treatment, may also constitute deliberate indifference.
See Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1131. Where delay is alleged,
however, the prisoner must also demonstrate that the delay
led to further injury. See McGuckin, 974 F.2d at
in diagnosing or treating a medical condition does not,
however, give rise to a claim under the Eighth Amendment.
See Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106. Moreover, a difference
of opinion between the prisoner and medical providers
concerning the appropriate course of treatment does not give
rise to an Eighth Amendment claim. See Jackson v.
McIntosh, 90 F.3d 330, 332 (9th Cir. 1996).
Plaintiff alleges a cognizable claim against Defendant for
violating his Eighth Amendment rights. Presuming the facts to
be true as the court must, the facts sufficiently demonstrate
Defendant was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's
risk of serious injury. Plaintiff informed Defendant of his
suicidal thoughts and his plan to hang himself with
bedsheets; therefore, Defendant knew there was a substantial
risk that Plaintiff would commit suicide if sent back to his
cell where he had access to bedsheets. Furthermore, Plaintiff
faced a risk of sufficiently serious ...