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Hopkins v. Ahern

United States District Court, N.D. California

October 10, 2019

KEITH M. HOPKINS, Plaintiff,
G. AHERN, et al., Defendants.




         Plaintiff filed this pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the Alameda County Sheriff's Department housed him in constitutionally inappropriate conditions while he was held at Santa Rita Jail (“Santa Rita”) from 2016 through 2018 as a “pre-trial defendant under federal custody.” Dkt. 11 at 4.[1] The operative complaint is Plaintiff's amended complaint. See Dkt. 11. He was previously granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Dkt. 8. Venue is proper because the events giving rise to the claim are alleged to have occurred in Santa Rita, which is located in this judicial district. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

         In his amended complaint, Plaintiff names the following Defendants: Alameda County Sheriff's Office (“ACSO”) Sheriff Gregory Ahern; Alameda County; California Forensic Medical Group (“CFMG”); Nurse Magat; ACSO Deputies Lincoln and Covingtonis; ACSO Sergeant Stuart; ACSO Captain Skoldvist; and “Does 1-30, ” who are unnamed ACSO jail officials. Dkt. 11 at 6-7. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages. Id. at 3-4.

         The Court now conducts its initial review of the amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.


         Plaintiff alleges the following in his amended complaint about events that occurred when he was a “pre-trial defendant under federal custody” in Santa Rita from 2016-2018: Plaintiff suffers from “chronic sleep apnea which is a serious condition that requires the use of a CPAP[2]machine, whenever he sleeps, to correct his abnormal breathing.” Dkt. 11 at 8. Plaintiff claims that during his three years of incarceration at Santa Rita, he had to “sleep every night in the Out-Patient Housing Unit (OPHU) because there are no electrical outlets in the general population housing units.” Id. Beginning in 2016, Plaintiff experienced denial/interruption to his medical treatment, and thus he claims that he “started experiencing daily headaches and extreme daytime drowsiness.” Id. Plaintiff alleges that “[t]here was no medical staff at [Santa Rita] that could help [him] with his sleep apnea symptoms, thus [he] was left to suffer . . . daily.” Id. at 9. Aside from claims of deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs based on a denial/interruption of medical treatment, Plaintiff's 29-page amended complaint asserts multiple claims for relief against a total of 23 defendants (including numerous Doe defendants), from whom he seeks monetary damages. As mentioned above, the allegations in the amended complaint cover a span of time from 2016 through June 2018 and include a variety of claims, including due process violations, retaliation, Eighth Amendment violations, and negligence. See Dkt. 11 at 25-27.

         Having reviewed the amended complaint, the Court finds various pleading deficiencies exist that require the amended complaint be DISMISSED with leave to amend.


         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. See 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. See id. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must, however, be liberally construed. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).

         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.” To comport with Rule 8, “[s]pecific 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). Although in order to state a claim a complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations, . . . 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. The United States Supreme Court has explained the “plausible on its face” standard of Twombly: “While legal conclusions can provide the complaint's framework, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. section 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 color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

         A supervisor may be liable under section 1983 upon a showing of personal involvement in the constitutional deprivation or a sufficient causal connection between the supervisor's wrongful conduct and the constitutional violation. Redman v. County of San Diego, 942 F.2d 1435, 1446 (9th Cir. 1991) (en banc). A supervisor therefore generally “is only liable for constitutional violations of his subordinates if the supervisor participated in or directed the violations, or knew of the violations and failed to act to prevent them.” Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). This includes evidence that a supervisor implemented “a policy so deficient that the policy itself is a repudiation of constitutional rights and is the moving force of the constitutional violation.” Redman, 942 F.2d at 1446; see Jeffers v. Gomez, 267 F.3d 895, 917 (9th Cir. 2001).

         B. ...

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