United States District Court, D. Arizona
CINDY K. JORGENSON, District Judge.
Plaintiff Martial Ledvina filed this civil rights Complaint alleging constitutional deprivations in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as well as state-law claims against numerous Defendants. (Doc. 1.) On June 9, 2014, Defendant Sheriff Clarence Dupnik filed a Motion to Dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), which Plaintiff opposes. (Docs. 10, 12.) On September 9, 2014, Magistrate Judge D. Thomas Ferraro issued a Report and Recommendation (R & R) recommending that the Motion to Dismiss be granted. (Doc. 19.) Plaintiff filed objections to the R & R, and Defendant has filed a response. (Doc. 27, 28.)
The Court will overrule Plaintiff's objections, adopt the R & R, grant the Motion to Dismiss, and give Plaintiff 30 days to file an amended complaint.
I. Governing Standard
The Court reviews de novo the objected-to portions of the Report and Recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). The Court reviews for clear error the unobjected-to portions of the Report and Recommendation. Johnson v. Zema Systems Corp., 170 F.3d 734, 739 (7th Cir. 1999); See also, Conley v. Crabtree, 14 F.Supp.2d 1203, 1204 (D. Or. 1998).
II. Factual Background and the Report and Recommendation
The action arises from Plaintiff's arrest on January 14, 2013, for alleged domestic abuse and his subsequent one-day confinement in the Pima County Adult Detention Complex (P.C.A.D.C.). On January 7, 2015, Plaintiff stipulated to dismiss the claims against the Marana Defendants-the Town of Marana, Rozeman, and Dittinger; these federal and state claims concerned the arrest. (Doc. 26.) The remaining claims are against Sheriff Dupnik for failure to provide a nurse and Plaintiff's heart medication; these claims include § 1983 claims and state-law claims. (Doc. 1.)
The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff was booked into the P.C.A.D.C. on January 14, 2013, and released at noon on January 15, 2013. At the time of the incident, Plaintiff was an 83-year old man with a heart condition; he alleges he was denied medical attention at P.C.A.D.C. when he advised a Correctional Officer that he had a heart condition and needed a nurse. He did not receive his heart medication until he was released at noon.
Sheriff Dupnik moves to dismiss the § 1983 constitutional claim (Count 1, in part) on the grounds that (1) Plaintiff did not sufficiently allege that anyone at the P.C.A.D.C. acted with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, and (2) Plaintiff did not adequately allege that Sheriff Dupnik was personally involved in or sufficiently causally connected to the alleged constitutional violation. (Doc. 10.) All Defendants argue that Plaintiff's state-law claims (Counts 2-6) are time-barred by Arizona's statute of limitations. (Docs. 10, 15.)
The Magistrate Judge held that Plaintiff's Complaint fails to allege a constitutional violation because it does not adequately allege the existence of harm, and it does not adequately allege conduct by Sheriff Dupnik connecting him to an alleged constitutional violation. Finally, the Magistrate Judge found that the state-law claims had accrued on January 14, 2013, and were therefore, time barred because the Complaint was not filed until March 27, 2014. (Doc. 19; Doc. 1.)
As to harm, the R & R states that under the applicable standard, a constitutional violation regarding medical care occurs when there is (1) a deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of a prisoner that (2) results in "unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). Although the Magistrate Judge held that the first part of the Estelle test had been met, he also held that Plaintiff has not adequately alleged a harm that satisfies the second part of the Estelle test. Noting that a plaintiff need not allege or prove substantial harm, the Magistrate Judge correctly held that alleged indifference to the serious medical need must have resulted in a more than de minimis Eighth Amendment harm. The Magistrate Judge found that the only harm alleged in the Complaint is temporary "anxiety" precipitated by P.C.A.D.C. staff's refusal to provide heart medication in a timely fashion; he did not allege that he experienced any pain, or that he suffered further medical complications due to this anxiety. Mere delay in receiving treatment or care is insufficient to state a claim unless that delay was harmful. See Shapley v. Nevada Bd. of State Prison Comm'rs, 766 F.2d 404, 407 (9th Cir. 1985).
The Magistrate Judge also found that Plaintiff failed to state a claim because he did not adequately allege that Sheriff Dupnik was personally involved in or causally related to the alleged constitutional violation. Plaintiff is suing Sheriff Dupnik in his individual and official capacities. As to individual liability, the Magistrate Judge noted that a "plaintiff may state a claim against a supervisor for deliberate indifference based upon the supervisor's knowledge of and acquiescence in unconstitutional conduct by his or her subordinates." Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1207 (9th Cir. 2011); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677 (2009). A defendant may be liable if: (1) he is personally involved in the constitutional violation; or (2) there is a sufficient causal connection between his conduct and the violation. Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 646 (9th Cir. 1989).
The Magistrate Judge found that although the Complaint must adequately allege a sufficient causal connection between Sheriff Dupnik's acts and the constitutional violation, Plaintiff's Complaint does no more than state conclusory allegations not entitled to a presumption of truth when considered during a motion to dismiss and it does not offer adequate (or any) factual foundation upon which these conclusions rest. The Complaint baldly alleges that: (1) Defendant maintained polices and/or long standing practices or customs that resulted in the violation of Plaintiff's rights; (2) those polices, practices, and customs were inadequate; and (3) those polices, practices, and customs demonstrated deliberate indifference. (Doc. 1 at 5.) And as to an official-capacity claim, the Magistrate Judge found only bald assertions. He also rejected Plaintiff's argument that he should be permitted to do discovery first.
The Magistrate Judge also found that the state-law claims are barred by the statute of limitations; in Arizona, all actions against public entities and public employees "shall be brought within one year after the cause of action accrues and not afterward." Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 12-821. The parties disputed when the statute of limitations accrued for each claim. The Magistrate Judge held that they all accrued ...