Wilkins v. Alameda County Sheriff's Office et al

Northern District of California, cand-4:2015-cv-01706

ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (Re: ECF No. 1) Complaint, filed by Rudy Wilkins. Signed by Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler on May 13, 2015.

Interested in this case?

Current View

Full Text

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 Northern District of California 10 San Francisco Division 11 12 RUDY WILKINS, No. C 15-1706 LB UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT For the Northern District of California 13 Plaintiff, ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND 14 v. [Re: ECF No. 1] 15 ALAMEDA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE; et al., 16 Defendants. 17 _____________________________________/ 18 INTRODUCTION 19 Rudy Wilkins, an inmate at the Alameda County Santa Rita Jail, filed this pro se civil rights 20 action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He consented to proceed before a magistrate judge. ECF No. 1 at 4. 21 His complaint is now before the court for review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. This order dismisses the 22 complaint, and allows Mr. Wilkins to file an amended complaint. 23 STATEMENT 24 The complaint alleges the following: The Alameda County Sheriff's office switched from bar 25 soap to a liquid soap substance for inmates at the Santa Rita Jail. After using the liquid soap a few 26 times in March 2014, Mr. Wilkins experienced skin irritation all over his body. "[T]he medical 27 provider, Corizon," has not adequately treated his skin condition. ECF No. 1 at 2. 28 C 15-1706 LB ORDER 1 The complaint further alleges that the Alameda County Sheriff and Corizon Health Services 2 medical staff have denied Mr. Wilkins adequate cold weather clothing, i.e., a long-sleeve jacket and 3 closed-toe shoes. The complaint lists four medical care providers, but does not allege what each 4 listed person did or failed to do. 5 ANALYSIS 6 A federal court must engage in a preliminary screening of any case in which a prisoner seeks 7 redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. 8 § 1915A(a). In its review the court must identify any cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims 9 which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek 10 monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See id. at § 1915A(b). Pro se 11 complaints must be liberally construed. See Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). 12 To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) that a right UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT For the Northern District of California 13 secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the violation was 14 committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 15 (1988). 16 The Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment requires that prison and 17 jail officials take reasonable measures for the safety and health of inmates. See Farmer v. Brennan, 18 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). A prison or jail official violates the Eighth Amendment only when two 19 requirements are met: (1) the deprivation alleged is, objectively, sufficiently serious, and (2) the 20 official is, subjectively, deliberately indifferent to the inmate's safety or health. See id. at 834.1 21 Deliberate indifference to an inmate's serious medical needs violates the Eighth Amendment. See 22 Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1057 (9th Cir. 2004). 23 Although serious medical needs form the basis for most Eighth Amendment claims, the deprivation 24 of any "'minimal civilized measure of life's necessities,'" Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834, can satisfy the 25 26 1 The inmate's claim arises under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment 27 rather than under the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the Eighth Amendment if he was a pretrial detainee at the relevant time; however, the deliberate indifference standard still applies to the 28 claim. See Carnell v. Grimm, 74 F.3d 977, 979 (9th Cir. 1996) (standard of deliberate indifference applicable to pretrial detainees' medical claims). C 15-1706 LB ORDER 2 1 objective prong of an Eighth Amendment claim. 2 Mr. Wilkins' claim that he received inadequate medical care for his skin condition fails to state a 3 claim upon which relief may be granted under § 1983, assuming that a skin irritation amounts to a 4 serious medical condition. First, Mr. Wilkins has not alleged facts suggesting that anyone acted 5 with deliberate indifference, which is the mental state necessary for an Eighth Amendment claim 6 about the conditions of confinement. In his amended complaint, Mr. Wilkins must allege facts 7 suggesting that each proposed defendant acted with deliberate indifference in his or her response to 8 Mr. Wilkins' skin irritation, i.e., that the defendant was "both aware of facts from which the 9 inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exist[ed]," and actually drew that 10 inference. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. Second, Mr. Wilkins has not identified the defendant(s) who 11 failed to provide adequate medical care for the skin irritation. There is no respondeat superior 12 liability under § 1983, i.e. no liability under the theory that one is responsible for the actions or UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT For the Northern District of California 13 omissions of another, such as an employee. See Board of Cty. Comm'rs. of Bryan Cty. v. Brown, 520 14 U.S. 397, 403 (1997); Tsao v. Desert Palace, Inc., 698 F.3d 1128, 1139, 1144 (9th Cir. 2012). Thus, 15 a claim is not stated against Corizon Health Services merely because it employed the medical care 16 providers, and a claim is not stated against the Alameda County Sheriff merely because he was in 17 charge of the jail at which the alleged constitutional violations occurred. If Mr. Wilkins wants to 18 pursue the Sheriff based on a supervisor's liability, he must make allegations in his amended 19 complaint to support such a theory.2 A supervisor may be liable under § 1983 upon a showing of (1) 20 21 2 If Mr. Wilkins has named the Alameda County Sheriff in an effort to sue the municipality, 22 he needs to make additional allegations in his amended complaint to establish municipal liability. Local governments, such as Alameda County, are "persons" subject to liability under 42 U.S.C. § 23 1983 where official policy or custom causes a constitutional tort, see Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978). To impose municipal liability under § 1983 for a violation of 24 constitutional rights, a plaintiff must show: "(1) that [the plaintiff] possessed a constitutional right of 25 which [he] was deprived; (2) that the municipality had a policy; (3) that this policy amounts to deliberate indifference to the plaintiff's constitutional right; and (4) that the policy is the moving 26 force behind the constitutional violation." See Plumeau v. School Dist. #40 County of Yamhill, 130 27 F.3d 432, 438 (9th Cir. 1997) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). For municipal liability, a plaintiff must plead sufficient facts regarding the specific nature of the alleged policy, 28 custom or practice to allow the defendant to effectively defend itself, and these facts must plausibly suggest that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. See AE v. County of Tulare, 666 F.3d 631, 636-37 (9th C 15-1706 LB ORDER 3 1 personal involvement in the constitutional deprivation or (2) a sufficient causal connection between 2 the supervisor's wrongful conduct and the constitutional violation. See Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 3 1202, 1206-07 (9th Cir. 2011). In his amended complaint, Mr. Wilkins must link each proposed 4 defendant to his claim by explaining what each defendant did or failed to do that caused a violation 5 of his rights. See Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988). 6 Mr. Wilkins' claim for the denial of cold weather clothing also fails to state a claim upon which 7 relief may be granted under § 1983. "[T]he 'Eighth Amendment guarantees adequate heating' but 8 not necessarily a 'comfortable' temperature. . . . One measure of an inadequate, as opposed to merely 9 uncomfortable, temperature is that it poses 'a substantial risk of serious harm.'" Graves v. Arpaio, 10 623 F.3d 1043, 1049 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). The complaint alleges no facts to suggest 11 that the denial of cold weather clothing posed a substantial risk of serious harm to Mr. Wilkins. In 12 his amended complaint, Mr. Wilkins must allege, if true, facts showing that the lack of cold weather UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT For the Northern District of California 13 clothing posed a substantial risk of serious harm to him. Facts that might bear upon the risk of harm 14 include: the number of days, weeks or months he had to go without a jacket and closed-toe shoes; 15 the indoor temperatures at the jail; the number of hours per week he spent outside; the months 16 during which he was outside without a jacket and closed-toe shoes; and the clothing that he was 17 permitted to wear indoors and outside. Mr. Wilkins also must allege facts showing that one or more 18 defendants acted with deliberate indifference. The complaint's list of four medical care defendants is 19 insufficient to link any of them to the claim because the complaint does not allege facts showing that 20 any of them acted with deliberate indifference to a serious risk to Mr. Wilkins' health. In his 21 amended complaint, he should identify the dates on which he asked and was refused cold weather 22 clothing by each defendant. As with the skin care claim, the complaint also does not state a claim 23 against the Alameda County Sheriff or Corizon Health Care for the denial of cold weather clothes by 24 individual medical staff members because they have no respondeat superior liability. If Mr. Wilkins 25 wants to pursue the Sheriff on a supervisor's liability theory or on pursue a municipal liability 26 theory, he must make the necessary allegations to support each such theory. 27 28 Cir. 2012). It is not sufficient to merely allege that a policy, custom or practice existed or that individual officers' wrongdoing conformed to a policy, custom or practice. See id. at 636-68. C 15-1706 LB ORDER 4 1 Mr. Wilkins submitted about 100 pages of exhibits in support of his complaint. See ECF No. 1-1 2 to 1-7 and No. 3, 3-1 to 3-3. Mr. Wilkins is cautioned that he must write out a complete statement of 3 his claims in his amended complaint. The court will not read through the exhibits to piece together a 4 claim for a plaintiff. 5 The court will grant leave to amend so that Mr. Wilkins may file an amended complaint in which 6 he describes specifically what each defendant did or failed to do that caused a violation of Mr. 7 Wilkins' constitutional rights. In his amended complaint, Mr. Wilkins must be careful to allege facts 8 showing the basis for liability for each defendant for each of his legal claims. He should not refer to 9 them as a group (e.g., "the defendants"); rather, he should identify each involved defendant by name 10 and link each of them to his claim by explaining what each defendant did or failed to do that caused 11 a violation of his rights. 12 CONCLUSION UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT For the Northern District of California 13 For the foregoing reasons, the complaint is DISMISSED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND. The 14 amended complaint must be filed no later than June 12, 2015, and must include the caption and civil 15 case number used in this order and the words AMENDED COMPLAINT on the first page. Mr. 16 Wilkins is cautioned that his amended complaint will supersede existing pleadings and must be a 17 complete statement of his claims, except that he does not need to plead again any claim the court has 18 dismissed without leave to amend. See Lacey v. Maricopa County, 693 F.3d 896, 928 (9th Cir. 19 2012) (en banc). Failure to file the amended complaint by the deadline will result in the dismissal of 20 the action for failure to state a claim. 21 IT IS SO ORDERED. 22 Dated: May 13, 2015 _______________________________ 23 LAUREL BEELER United States Magistrate Judge 24 25 26 27 28 C 15-1706 LB ORDER 5