United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO
GONZALEZ ROGERS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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.
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).
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.
seeks declaratory and injunctive relief.
Standard of Review
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).
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).
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.
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