(PC) Ibrahima Wane v. California Correctional Health Care, Services Health Care Correspondence and Appeals Branch et al, No. 1:2018cv00231 - Document 12 (E.D. Cal. 2018)

Court Description: FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS recommending that this Action be DISMISSED for Plaintiff's Failure to State a Claim Upon Which Relief May Be Granted re 11 Amended Prisoner Civil Rights Complaint signed by Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe on 7/17/2018. Referred to Judge O'Neill. Objections to F&R due within fourteen (14) days. (Jessen, A)
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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 IBRAHIMA WANE, 12 13 14 15 16 Plaintiff, v. CALIFORNIA CORRECTIONAL HEALTH CARE SERVICES HEALTH CARE CORRESPONDENCE AND APPEALS BRANCH, et al., FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING DISMISSAL OF ACTION FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM (ECF No. 11) FOURTEEN-DAY DEADLINE Defendants. 17 18 Case No. 1:18-cv-00231-LJO-BAM (PC) Plaintiff Ibrahima Wane (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma 19 pauperis in this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On June 18, 2018, the Court screened 20 Plaintiff’s complaint and granted him leave to amend. (ECF No. 10.) Plaintiff’s first amended 21 complaint, filed on July 2, 2018, is currently before the Court for screening. (ECF No. 11.) 22 I. Screening Requirement and Standard 23 The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a 24 governmental entity and/or against an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. 25 § 1915A(a). Plaintiff’s complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or 26 malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief 27 from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b). 28 1 1 A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader 2 is entitled to relief . . . .” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but 3 “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, 4 do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 5 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). While a plaintiff’s allegations are taken as true, courts “are not required 6 to indulge unwarranted inferences.” Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 7 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). 8 To survive screening, Plaintiff’s claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient 9 factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the 10 misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 11 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not 12 sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. 13 Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969. Plaintiff’s Allegations 14 II. 15 Plaintiff is currently housed at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility 16 (“CSATF”) in Corcoran, California, where the events in the complaint are alleged to have occurred. 17 Plaintiff names the following defendants: (1) California Correctional Health Care Services Health 18 Care Correspondence and Appeals Branch; and (2) Chief S. Gates. 19 Plaintiff alleges as follows: 20 Plaintiff thanks the Court for allowing plaintiff to amend this Civil Complaint, due to Plaintiff Ibrahima Wane gave the Court the following fact that the meds by the defendants made plaintiff’s chest shrink; when in fact the meds made plaintiff’s chest or breast enlarge. And, during that time, the defendants didn’t give plaintiff any medical treatment for it to correct the problem. Plaintiff still is in the same condition; thus a denial of medical treatment. 21 22 23 24 25 26 (ECF No. 11 at pp. 3-4.) Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages. III. Discussion A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 27 Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, a complaint must contain “a short and plain 28 statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Detailed 2 1 factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, 2 supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation omitted). 3 Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is 4 plausible on its face.’” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. at 5 1974). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id.; see also 6 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556–557. 7 Plaintiff’s amended complaint fails to comply with Rule 8. Although the amended 8 complaint is short, it is not a plain statement of his claims. Indeed, it fails to include sufficient 9 factual allegations indicating what happened, when it happened and who was involved. For the 10 reasons discussed below, the Court does not find that leave to amend can cure the deficiencies in 11 his complaint in order to state a cognizable claim for relief. 12 B. Linkage Requirement 13 The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides: 14 16 Every person who, under color of [state law] ... subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States ... to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution ... shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress. 17 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The statute plainly requires that there be an actual connection or link between 18 the actions of the defendants and the deprivation alleged to have been suffered by Plaintiff. See 19 Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976). The 20 Ninth Circuit has held that “[a] person ‘subjects’ another to the deprivation of a constitutional right, 21 within the meaning of section 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in another’s 22 affirmative acts, or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the 23 deprivation of which complaint is made.” Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). 15 24 Plaintiff fails to link Defendant Gates to a deprivation of his rights, and instead generally 25 refers to “defendants” in his allegations. Plaintiff has been unable to cure this deficiency. Further, 26 to the extent Plaintiff seeks to hold Defendant Gates liable based on his supervisory role, he may 27 not do so. Liability may not be imposed on supervisory personnel for the actions or omissions of 28 their subordinates under the theory of respondeat superior. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676–77; Simmons v. 3 1 Navajo Cty., Ariz., 609 F.3d 1011, 1020–21 (9th Cir. 2010); Ewing v. City of Stockton, 588 F.3d 2 1218, 1235 (9th Cir.2009); Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). 3 Supervisors may be held liable only if they “participated in or directed the violations, or 4 knew of the violations and failed to act to prevent them.” Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th 5 Cir. 1989); accord Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1205–06 (9th Cir. 2011); Corales v. Bennett, 567 6 F.3d 554, 570 (9th Cir. 2009). Supervisory liability may also exist without any personal 7 participation if the official implemented “a policy so deficient that the policy itself is a repudiation 8 of the constitutional rights and is the moving force of the constitutional violation.” Redman v. 9 County of San Diego, 942 F.2d 1435, 1446 (9th Cir. 1991) (citations and quotations marks omitted), 10 abrogated on other grounds by Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994). 11 As indicated above, Plaintiff does not link Defendant Gates to any constitutional violation. 12 Indeed, Plaintiff fails to name Defendant Gates in the factual allegations and does not allege that 13 Defendant Gates participated in or directed the alleged violations or implemented a deficient policy. 14 C. California Correctional Health Care Services Health Care Correspondence 15 and Appeals Branch 16 “The Eleventh Amendment bars suits for money damages in federal court against a state, 17 its agencies, and state officials in their official capacities.” Aholelei v. Dep’t. of Pub. Safety, 488 18 F.3d 1144, 1147 (9th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted). Suits for injunctive relief are also generally 19 barred. See Nat’l Audubon Soc’y v. Davis, 307 F.3d 835, 847 (9th Cir. 2002). Accordingly, 20 Plaintiff cannot bring suit against the California Correctional Health Care Services Correspondence 21 and Appeals Branch. Plaintiff has been unable to cure this deficiency. 22 D. Eighth Amendment – Medical Needs 23 A prisoner’s claim of inadequate medical care does not constitute cruel and unusual 24 punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment unless the mistreatment rises to the level of 25 “deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.” Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 26 2006) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976)). Deliberate indifference may be shown 27 by the denial, delay or intentional interference with medical treatment or by the way in which 28 medical care is provided. Hutchinson v. United States, 838 F.2d 390, 394 (9th Cir. 1988). The two4 1 part test for deliberate indifference requires Plaintiff to show (1) “a ‘serious medical need’ by 2 demonstrating that failure to treat a prisoner’s condition could result in further significant injury or 3 the ‘unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain,’” and (2) “the defendant’s response to the need was 4 deliberately indifferent.” Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096. 5 A defendant does not act in a deliberately indifferent manner unless the defendant “knows 6 of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 7 837 (1994). “Deliberate indifference is a high legal standard,” Simmons., 609 F.3d at 1019; Toguchi 8 v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1060 (9th Cir. 2004), and is shown where there was “a purposeful act or 9 failure to respond to a prisoner’s pain or possible medical need” and the indifference caused harm. 10 Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096. 11 In applying this standard, the Ninth Circuit has held that before it can be said that a 12 prisoner’s civil rights have been abridged, “the indifference to his medical needs must be 13 substantial. Mere ‘indifference,’ ‘negligence,’ or ‘medical malpractice’ will not support this cause 14 of action.” Broughton v. Cutter Laboratories, 622 F.2d 458, 460 (9th Cir. 1980) (citing Estelle, 429 15 U.S. at 105–106). “[A] complaint that a physician has been negligent in diagnosing or treating a 16 medical condition does not state a valid claim of medical mistreatment under the Eighth 17 Amendment. Medical malpractice does not become a constitutional violation merely because the 18 victim is a prisoner.” Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106; see also Anderson v. Cty. of Kern, 45 F.3d 1310, 19 1316 (9th Cir. 1995). Even gross negligence is insufficient to establish deliberate indifference to 20 serious medical needs. See Wood v. Housewright, 900 F.2d 1332, 1334 (9th Cir. 1990). 21 Further, a “difference of opinion between a physician and the prisoner—or between medical 22 professionals—concerning what medical care is appropriate does not amount to deliberate 23 indifference.” Snow v. McDaniel, 681 F.3d 978, 987 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing Sanchez v. Vild, 891 24 F.2d 240, 242 (9th Cir. 1989)), overruled in part on other grounds, Peralta v. Dillard, 744 F.3d 1076, 25 1082–83 (9th Cir. 2014); Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1122–23 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing 26 Jackson v. McIntosh, 90 F.3d 330, 332 (9th Cir. 1986)). Rather, Plaintiff “must show that the course 27 of treatment the doctors chose was medically unacceptable under the circumstances and that the 28 defendants chose this course in conscious disregard of an excessive risk to [his] health.” Snow, 681 5 1 F.3d at 988 (citing Jackson, 90 F.3d at 332) (internal quotation marks omitted). 2 Plaintiff’s complaint fails to state a cognizable claim for inadequate health care in violation 3 of his Eighth Amendment rights. The exhibits attached to Plaintiff’s complaint demonstrate that 4 Plaintiff complained of swollen and painful breasts on June 9, 2017, with discharge. (ECF No. 11 5 at p. 9.) Plaintiff was then evaluated on June 13, 2017, but had no discharge and was scheduled to 6 see his primary doctor on July 10, 2017. (Id. at 11.) Plaintiff’s primary care provider noted breast 7 tissue enlargement on August 2, 2017, and referred Plaintiff back to mental health to consider a 8 medication update. (Id. at p. 8.) Plaintiff also was evaluated on September 25, October13, and 9 October 20, 2017, for complaints of breast tenderness. He was given home care instructions and 10 referred to his primary care provider. On December 16, 2017, Plaintiff’s care provider noted that 11 the tenderness in Plaintiff’s breast had been resolved and that the mental health medication that was 12 suspected of causing the breast tenderness had been discontinued. (Id. at p. 6.) Based on the 13 exhibits attached to the amended complaint, there is no indication that any defendant disregarded 14 any breast enlargement. Rather, the exhibits indicate that Plaintiff’s reports of breast tenderness 15 and enlargement were addressed and subsequently resolved by a change of mental health 16 medication. 17 18 19 E. Fourteenth Amendment – Equal Protection Plaintiff asserts that his Fourteenth Amendment rights under the Equal Protection Clause were violated. As with his original complaint, the nature of this claim is unclear. 20 The Equal Protection Clause requires that persons who are similarly situated be treated 21 alike. City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center, Inc., 473 U.S. 432, 439 (1985); Hartmann v. 22 California Dep’t of Corr. & Rehab., 707 F.3d 1114, 1123 (9th Cir. 2013); Furnace v. Sullivan, 705 23 F.3d 1021, 1030 (9th Cir. 2013); Shakur v. Schriro, 514 F.3d 878, 891 (9th Cir. 2008). To state a 24 claim, Plaintiff must show that Defendants intentionally discriminated against him based on his 25 membership in a protected class. Hartmann, 707 F.3d at 1123; Furnace, 705 F.3d at 1030; Serrano 26 v. Francis, 345 F.3d 1071, 1082 (9th Cir. 2003). 27 Where no suspect class or fundamental right is implicated, a plaintiff’s equal protection 28 claims are subject to a rational basis review. See Village of Willowbrook v. Olech, 528 U.S. 562, 6 1 564 (2000); United States v. Juvenile Male, 670 F.3d 999, 1009 (9th Cir. 2012); Nelson v. City of 2 Irvine, 143 F.3d 1196, 1205 (9th Cir. 1998) (“Unless a classification trammels fundamental 3 personal rights or implicates a suspect classification, to meet constitutional challenge the law in 4 question needs only some rational relation to a legitimate state interest.”). In the prison context, 5 the right to equal protection is viewed through a standard of reasonableness; that is, whether the 6 actions of prison officials are “reasonably related to legitimate penological interests.” Walker v. 7 Gomez, 370 F.3d 969, 974 (9th Cir. 2004) (citing Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 89 (1987)). 8 Here, Plaintiff has failed to establish that he is a member of a protected class or that he was 9 otherwise discriminated against. Plaintiff’s conclusory assertion that his Equal Protection rights 10 were violated is not sufficient to state a cognizable claim. Plaintiff has been unable to cure this 11 deficiency. 12 F. Appeals/Grievance Process 13 Although not entirely clear, Plaintiff appears to be complaining about the responses to his 14 appeals. However, Plaintiff cannot pursue any claims against prison staff based solely on the 15 processing and review of inmate appeals. 16 The existence of an inmate appeals process does not create a protected liberty interest upon 17 which Plaintiff may base a claim that he was denied a particular result or that the appeals process 18 was deficient. Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 860 (9th Cir. 2003) (Prisoners do not have a 19 “separate constitutional entitlement to a specific prison grievance procedure.”) (citation omitted), 20 cert. denied, 541 U.S. 1063 (2004); Mann v. Adams, 855 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1988). 21 IV. 22 Plaintiff’s complaint fails to state a cognizable claim for relief. Despite being provided with 23 the relevant pleading and legal standards, Plaintiff has been unable to cure the deficiencies in his 24 complaint and thus further leave to amend is not warranted. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 25 (9th Cir. 2000). 26 27 28 Conclusion and Order Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY RECOMMENDED that this action be dismissed for Plaintiff’s failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. These Findings and Recommendation will be submitted to the United States District Judge 7 1 assigned to the case, pursuant to the provisions of Title 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(l). Within fourteen 2 (14) days after being served with these Findings and Recommendation, Plaintiff may file written 3 objections with the Court. The document should be captioned “Objections to Magistrate Judge’s 4 Findings and Recommendation.” Plaintiff is advised that failure to file objections within the 5 specified time may result in the waiver of the “right to challenge the magistrate’s factual findings” 6 on appeal. Wilkerson v. Wheeler, 772 F.3d 834, 839 (9th Cir. 2014) (citing Baxter v. Sullivan, 923 7 F.2d 1391, 1394 (9th Cir. 1991)). 8 9 10 11 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: /s/ Barbara July 17, 2018 A. McAuliffe _ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 8