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Rodriguez v. Newsom

United States District Court, N.D. California

October 10, 2019

ARMANDO RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
GAVIN NEWSOM, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

          YVONNE GONZALEZ ROGERS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, a civil detainee at Napa State Hospital (“NSH”), has filed a pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis has been granted. Dkt. 11.

         Venue is proper because the events giving rise to the claim are alleged to have occurred at NSH, which is located in this judicial district. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

         In his complaint, Plaintiff names the following Defendants: Governor Gavin Newsom; the Department of State Hospitals (“DSH”); and DSH Deputy Director George Maynard. Dkt. 1 at 1. Plaintiff sues these Defendants in their individual and official capacities. Id.

         Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief.

         II. DISCUSSION

         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. Legal Claims

         Plaintiff claims that he is a patient at NSH who belongs to one of the “four ‘Incompetent to Stand Trial' programs in the State of California.” Dkt. 1 at 2. It seems that Plaintiff was acquitted of criminal charges by reason of insanity and has since been involuntarily civilly committed to NSH. Id. However, he claims that due to “overcrowding, ” patients are housed with less square footage of space than legally mandated.” Id. Plaintiff alleges that such overcrowding has resulted in the following: (1) insufficient educational, community re-entry, up-to-date treatment, and specialty programs; (2) overworking nursing staff and affecting “their ability to properly perform their work duties”; and (3) social workers' caseloads being too high such that they are unable to make time for their patients. Id. In addition, Plaintiff claims that DSH “regularly denies and/or delays the release of patient records, ” and DSH hospitals like NSH are “in dire need of repair and maintenance.” Id. Thus, Plaintiff claims that his Eighth Amendment rights are violated based on Defendants' deliberate indifference to his serious mental health needs.

         Deliberate indifference to a prisoner's serious medical needs violates the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102-04 (1976). Prisoners' mental health needs are among the medical needs covered by the Eighth Amendment. See generally Doty v. County of Lassen, 37 F.3d 540, 546 (9th Cir. 1994). To prove that the response of prison officials to a prisoner's mental health needs was constitutionally deficient, the prisoner must establish (1) a serious mental health need and (2) deliberate indifference to that need by prison officials. See ...


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