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Shaka v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

May 11, 2015

Shaka, Plaintiff,
Charles L. Ryan, et al., Defendants.


STEPHEN M. McNAMEE, Senior District Judge.

On January 12, 2015, Plaintiff Shaka, who is confined in the Arizona State Prison Complex-Yuma, filed a pro se civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1) and an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc. 2). In a February 13, 2015 Order, the Court denied the Application to Proceed because Plaintiff had failed to submit a certified trust account statement. On March 2, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Compliance and Motion that "Unknown" not be used in the case caption ("Motion") (Doc. 5) and a certified six-moth trust account statement. On May 7, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Compliance and Motion for Confirmation (Doc. 7). The Court will grant the Application to Proceed[1] and the Motions, but will dismiss the Complaint with leave to amend.

I. Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and Filing Fee

Plaintiff's Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis will be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Plaintiff must pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). The Court will assess an initial partial filing fee of $8.17. The remainder of the fee will be collected monthly in payments of 20% of the previous month's income credited to Plaintiff's trust account each time the amount in the account exceeds $10.00. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). The Court will enter a separate Order requiring the appropriate government agency to collect and forward the fees according to the statutory formula.

II. 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 )).

If the Court determines that a pleading could be cured by the allegation of other facts, a pro se litigant is entitled to an opportunity to amend a complaint before dismissal of the action. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127-29 (9th Cir. 2000) ( en banc ). Plaintiff's Complaint will be dismissed for failure to state a claim, but because it may possibly be amended to state a claim, the Court will dismiss it with leave to amend.

III. Complaint

In his one-count Complaint, Plaintiff sues Defendants Charles L. Ryan, Director of Arizona Department of Corrections; Anthony N. Medel, M.B.A., employed as "facility health"; Lori Johnson, Facility Health Administrator/Corizon Site Manager at ASPC-Yuma's Dakota Unit; and Richard Pratt, Interim Division Director of Health Services at Central Office. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages.

Plaintiff asserts a claim for the denial of constitutionally adequate medical care and alleges the following facts: Since January 2013, Plaintiff has been trying to have his knee problems diagnosed and corrected in order to relieve the pain he has both knees. On February 24, 2014, Plaintiff had an MRI on his right knee that showed he had a cleavage tear of the posterior horn and body of the medial meniscus, an equivocal tear in the anterior horn of the lateral meniscus, and chondromalacia and small cleavage tears of the patellar cartilage. An MRI of the left knee on the same day showed that he had an oblique tear in the posterior horn of the medial meniscus and subchondral cystic changes involving the medial tibial plateau. At some point, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Vanderhooh, who informed Plaintiff that he needed to have knee surgery. On December 19, 2014, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Lutrill, who "wanted to give a new injection to see how it worked, " but Dr. Lutrill told Plaintiff he could not treat him without first getting Corizon's approval. Dr. Lutrill also told Plaintiff that there were "bone on bone areas in both knees" that required surgery. Plaintiff then returned to ASPC-Yuma's Cheyenne Unit to await Corizon and Central Office's approval for treatment.

Plaintiff claims he has been denied knee surgery and injections to treat his knee pain for almost two years. Plaintiff lives in constant pain and is unable to exercise. Medical failed to inform Dr. Lutrill that the ...

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