United States District Court, D. Arizona
STEPHEN M. McNAMEE, Senior District Judge.
On June 23, 2014, Plaintiff Anthony Joseph Amara, who is now confined in the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis in Buckeye, Arizona, filed a pro se civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. In a July 25, 2014 Order, the Court granted the Application to Proceed and dismissed the Complaint because Plaintiff had failed to state a claim. The Court gave Plaintiff 30 days to file an amended complaint that cured the deficiencies identified in the Order.
On August 18, 2014, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint. In a November 21, 2014 Order, the Court dismissed the First Amended Complaint because Plaintiff had failed to state a claim. The Court gave Plaintiff 30 days to file a second amended complaint that cured the deficiencies identified in the Order. Plaintiff failed to respond, and, on January 7, 2015, the Clerk of Court administratively closed the case for failure to prosecute, and entered judgment accordingly.
Subsequently, Plaintiff moved to reopen the matter, explaining that he had filed a Motion for Extension of Time to amend his complaint, that the Court had not yet ruled on the Motion, and that the case had been closed while he awaited the Court's ruling on the Motion. Though no such motion had been received by the Court at the time the case was closed,  the Court, out of an abundance of caution, reopened the case by Order dated January 23, 2015, and provided Plaintiff with 30 days in which to amend his complaint to cure the deficiencies identified in the November 21 Order.
On February 20, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 16). The Court will order Defendants Clark and Garcia to answer the Second Amended Complaint, and will dismiss the remaining Defendants without prejudice.
I. Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints
The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or an employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if a plaintiff has raised claims that are legally frivolous or malicious, that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2).
A pleading must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) (emphasis added). While Rule 8 does not demand detailed factual allegations, "it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id.
"[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is]... a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 679. Thus, although a plaintiff's specific factual allegations may be consistent with a constitutional claim, a court must assess whether there are other "more likely explanations" for a defendant's conduct. Id. at 681.
But as the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has instructed, courts must "continue to construe pro se filings liberally." Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). A "complaint [filed by a pro se prisoner] must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Id. (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) ( per curiam )).
II. Second Amended Complaint
In his single-count Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff names as Defendants: Kelly Clark, the Navajo County Sheriff; Brad Carlyon, the Navajo County Attorney; Ernie Garcia, the Navajo County Jail Commander; and Judge Higgins, a Judge on the Navajo County Superior Court. Plaintiff seeks monetary relief and punitive damages.
Plaintiff frames his claim as one for inadequate medical care, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. According to Plaintiff, he was arrested on August 21, 2013. During his initial intake into the Navajo County Jail (the "jail"), he informed the "officers, jailers, and medical staff" that he had a broken jaw with a metal plate that had shifted, causing him severe pain; Plaintiff was scheduled for surgery to have his jaw repaired at the time he was arrested.
On September 1, 2013, Plaintiff used the medical kiosk system at the jail to request to be seen for his broken jaw, and complained that he was in pain. On September 4, 2013, Plaintiff again used the medical kiosk system to be seen for his jaw and associated pain. On September 5, Plaintiff was seen by Richard Dawson, a doctor with the Navajo County Healthcare system ("Dr. Dawson"). Dr. Dawson assessed that the metal plate in Plaintiff's jaw appeared to have a piece that was embedded improperly, and was protruding. Dr. Dawson requested Plaintiff's medical records, informed Plaintiff that he would reassess Plaintiff's situation once he had received the records, and started Plaintiff on pain medications. That same day, Plaintiff's medical records were faxed to the jail.
On September 17, and again on September 22, having received no follow-up, Plaintiff again requested to have his jaw repaired; he received no response to either request. On September 24, Plaintiff initiated a detainee grievance to have surgery on his jaw.
Meanwhile, on September 25, Plaintiff again requested to be seen by medical for pain in his jaw. The next day, Plaintiff was seen by Robert Dawson, a physician's assistant with the jail ("PA Dawson"). PA Dawson increased Plaintiff's pain medications and concluded that Plaintiff's jaw had shifted and that he needed maxillofacial surgery. PA Dawson apparently made an appointment with the dental department for an evaluation and a referral to an oral surgeon.
On October 24, 2013, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Clarence Hansen, D.D.S. Dr. Hansen concluded that Plaintiff's jaw had healed out of alignment, and recommended that the jaw be re-broken and properly aligned, and that the metal plates be repaired to correct a protrusion along the jaw line.
On October 30, 2013, having yet to receive surgery, Plaintiff initiated a second detainee grievance to have surgery to repair his jaw and alleviate his pain. The next day, Defendant Garcia denied Plaintiff's first grievance. However, as to Plaintiff's second grievance request, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Clark became aware of Plaintiff's medical needs because Clark "is notified of all medical grievance[s]." Additionally, Clark was forwarded all medical records concerning Plaintiff's condition. However, "medical staff" denied the grievance on November 4, 2013, stating that Plaintiff "would have to have surgery on his own." On November 7, Lieutenant Davis issued a follow-up to the denial, stating that there was "no need for additional medical resources." Finally, on November 14, Defendant ...