United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
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). On September 5, 2019, the court issued a
screening order addressing plaintiff's claims.
See ECF No. 9. The court summarized plaintiff's
allegations and claims as follows:
On July 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.
Plaintiff 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
ECF No. 9, pg. 2.
court found plaintiff states a cognizable claim for violation
of plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights. See id.
at 4. Specifically, the court noted:
Here, 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
injury-death. Because the facts allege that Defendant was
deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's risk of death,
Plaintiff's claim is appropriate for service.
ECF No. 9, pg. 4.
court, however, determined plaintiff failed to state a
cognizable claim against defendant under the Federal Tort
Claims Act for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
See id. at 4-5. The court concluded:
Plaintiff fails to state a cognizable claim that Defendant
intended to cause severe mental and emotional distress by
making Plaintiff wait in the small holding cell under
restraints for several hours. It is unclear whether Plaintiff
intends to bring this claim under the Federal Torts Claim Act
(FTCA) or § 1983. It is also unclear which four-hour
time period Plaintiff attributes to the Defendant. Regardless
of these ambiguities, Plaintiff's claim is insufficient
for two reasons.
First, under the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act, a prisoner
cannot bring a claim under the FTCA for a mental or emotional
injury suffered while in custody without demonstrating
physical injury. 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)(2). This also
applies to claims premised on a mental or emotional injury
that are brought under § 1983. 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(e). However, the physical injury requirement does not
apply to claims made under the First or Fourteenth Amendment.
See Oliver v. Keller, 289 F.3d 623, 627 (9th Cir.
2002) (Fourteenth Amendment claims); Canell v.
Lightner, 143 F.3d 1210, 1213 (9th Cir. 1998) (First
Amendment claims). Because Plaintiff bases his claim upon
inadequate medical care, this court finds that Plaintiff does
not allege any claims under the First or Fourteenth
Amendment. Plaintiff's claim fails the physical-injury
requirement because his complaint does not allege that he
suffered any physical injuries from Defendant's actions.
Second, Plaintiff's claim fails to establish a causal
connection between Defendant's actions and the alleged
harm (waiting in a holding cell during two separate four-hour
periods of time). To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, the plaintiff must allege an actual connection or link
between the actions of the named defendants and the alleged
deprivations. See Monell v. Dep't of Social
Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978); Rizzo v. Goode,
423 U.S. 362 (1976). "A person 'subjects'
another to the deprivation of a constitutional right, within
the meaning of § 1983, if he does an affirmative act,
participates in another's affirmative acts, or omits to
perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes
the deprivation of which complaint is made." Johnson
v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). Vague and
conclusory allegations concerning the involvement of official
personnel in civil rights violations are not sufficient.
See Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th
Cir. 1982). Rather, the plaintiff must set forth specific
facts as to each defendant's causal role in the alleged
constitutional deprivation. See Leer v. Murphy, 844
F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988).
Here, Plaintiff alleges that the long waits in the holding
cells caused severe emotional distress, which Defendant
deliberately inflicted. It is not clear whether Plaintiff
refers to the first four-hour period, the second, or both.
Regardless, Plaintiff fails to plausibly establish a
cognizable claim. Even when taken in a light most favorable
to him, the alleged facts do not ...