United States District Court, D. Arizona
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 and an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. In a February 13, 2015 Order, the Court denied the deficient Application to Proceed and gave Plaintiff 30 days to pay the administrative and filing fees or file a complete Application to Proceed. On March 2, 2015, Plaintiff filed a certified six-month trust account statement. In a May 12, 2015 Order, the Court granted the Application to Proceed and dismissed the Complaint for failure to state a claim, specifically, the failure to allege facts to link the alleged constitutional violation to any named Defendant. The Court gave Plaintiff 30 days to file an amended complaint that cured the deficiencies identified in the Order. On May 26, 2015, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint (Doc. 10). The Court will dismiss the First Amended Complaint and this action.
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. First Amended Complaint
In his single-count First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff sues Defendants Charles L. Ryan, Director of Arizona Department of Corrections ("ADOC"); Richard Pratt, ADOC Interim Director of Health Services at the Central Office; Lori Johnson, ADOC Facility Health Administrator ("FHA")/Corizon Site Manager at ASPC-Yuma's Dakota Unit; and Anthony N. Medel, Assistant FHA at ASPC-Yuma's Dakota Unit. Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief and monetary damages.
Plaintiff again asserts a claim for the denial of constitutionally adequate medical care. In its last Order, Plaintiff was informed of the standard to state a claim for constitutionally deficient medical care, specifically, that Plaintiff must allege a serious medical need to which each defendant had acted with deliberate indifference. The Court expressly stated that in an amended complaint, Plaintiff must identify the constitutional right violated, the name(s) of the defendants who violated that right, exactly how each defendant violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights, and how Plaintiff was injured. Because Plaintiff had failed to allege any facts against any named Defendant in his Complaint, his Complaint was dismissed. The Court expressly warned Plaintiff that an amended complaint supersedes the original complaint and that, after amendment, the Court would treat his original complaint as non-existent.
In his First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff asserts that the Defendants knew that he suffered from knee pain and attaches copies of inmate letters, grievances, grievance appeals, and responses thereto, concerning his knee pain. Plaintiff largely leaves it to the Court to parse the legible portions of his attachments to determine the nature of his medical need and its severity and how any Defendant may have acted with deliberate indifference to his medical needs. Plaintiff asserts that the exhibits show that all four Defendants had "sufficient notice" of his knee pain and that since 2014, the Defendants have failed to ensure that he received "the prompt & required medical treatment." He also asserts that responses to his Health Needs Requests ("HNRs") were not prompt and that "Specialist Orders & Requests" were not followed, "or sent to Dr. Latrell, [and/or] treatment [sic]." He asserts that none of the Defendants performed their assigned duties "by which their position in the Grievance granted them to do so."
The documents submitted by Plaintiff reflect the following facts: Plaintiff has been suffering from pain in both knees since at least January 2013. (Doc. 10 at 36.) In February 2014, an MRI of each of Plaintiff's knees was performed and tears were observed. ( Id. )
On June 9, 2014, Plaintiff submitted an Inmate Informal Complaint Resolution stating that although he was to have received an outside consultation, seventeen months had passed without treatment for his knees and he continued to be in pain. ( Id. ) In a June 26, 2014 response, Corrections Officer III ("CO III") Connell stated that he had not received a response from nursing supervisor Pulido regarding Plaintiff's June 9, 2014 informal resolution and told Plaintiff that he could proceed to the next step. ( Id. at 37)
On June 27, 2014, Plaintiff submitted an Inmate Grievance to the "FHA" in which he stated that he had been waiting since January 2013 for treatment for his knees. ( Id. at 38.) Plaintiff further noted that he had seen Dr. Vanderhoof on June 19, 2014, and Dr. Vanderhoof had recommended knee replacement surgery for both knees. ( Id. ) Plaintiff further stated that he had not yet been seen by a provider or informed whether surgery had been scheduled. ( Id. ) In a July 14, 2014 response, FHA Medel stated that the healthcare provider had submitted a request for an outside consultation ...