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Gause v. Unknown Thude

United States District Court, D. Arizona

April 9, 2018

Richard LeGrand Gause, Plaintiff,
v.
Unknown Thude, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Eileen S. Willett, United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on its own review. On April 20, 2017, Arizona state prisoner Richard Gause (“Plaintiff”) filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The two-count Complaint (Doc. 1) alleges (i) an Eighth Amendment medical care claim against Nurse Practitioner Thude and Director of Health Winford Williams regarding treatment of Plaintiff's nerve damage and chronic pain and (ii) a claim alleging that Plaintiff was denied condiments, napkins, and utensils while confined in the Rast Max Unit. (Id. at 3-8). In its April 27, 2017 Screening Order, the Court ordered Defendants Thude and Williams to answer the Eighth Amendment medical care claim and dismissed the second claim. (Doc. 6 at 6-8).

         On November 6, 2017, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint (Doc. 21) as a matter of course. The First Amended Complaint does not amend Count One and replaces Count Two in its entirety.[1] Count Two of the First Amended Complaint raises an Eighth Amendment medical care claim against a number of Defendants. (Id. at 10-19). Defendants Thude and Williams have answered the First Amended Complaint. (Docs. 23, 39). In accordance with the Court's continuing obligation to screen prisoners' complaints, 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the Court will screen the First Amended Complaint.

         I. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standards

         1. Screening Prisoner Complaints

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e (c)(1), requires the Court to dismiss all allegations that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See O'Neal v. Price, 531 F.3d 1146, 1153 (9th Cir. 2008). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof that is legally frivolous, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(A)(b)(1), (2). In reviewing Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint, the Court must accept as true all well-pled factual allegations and draw all reasonable inferences therefrom. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Steckman v. Hart Brewing, Inc., 143 F.3d 1293, 1296-98 (9th Cir. 1998). A claim for relief must be plausible on its face to survive a motion to dismiss. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 663 (2009). “A claim has facial plausibility 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. at 679. The following discusses the legal standards pertaining to Eighth Amendment medical care claims.

         2. Eighth Amendment Medical Care Claims

         Not every claim by a prisoner relating to inadequate medical treatment states a violation of the Eighth Amendment. To state a Section 1983 medical claim, a plaintiff must show that the defendants acted with “deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.” Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976)). A plaintiff must show (1) a “serious medical need” by demonstrating that failure to treat the condition could result in further significant injury or the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain and (2) the defendant's response was deliberately indifferent. Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096 (quotations omitted).

         “Deliberate indifference is a high legal standard.” Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1060 (9th Cir. 2004). To act with deliberate indifference, a prison official must both know of and disregard an excessive risk to inmate health; “the official must both be aware of acts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. Deliberate indifference in the medical context may be shown by a purposeful act or failure to respond to a prisoner's pain or possible medical need and harm caused by the indifference. Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096. Deliberate indifference may also be shown when a prison official intentionally denies, delays, or interferes with medical treatment or by the way prison doctors respond to the prisoner's medical needs. Id.; Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104-05.

         Deliberate indifference is a higher standard than negligence or lack of ordinary due care for the prisoner's safety. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835. “Neither negligence nor gross negligence will constitute deliberate indifference.” Clement v. California Dep't of Corr., 220 F.Supp.2d 1098, 1105 (N.D. Cal. 2002); see also Broughton v. Cutter Labs., 622 F.2d 458, 460 (9th Cir. 1980) (mere claims of indifference, ” “negligence, ” or “medical malpractice” do not support a claim under § 1983). “A difference of opinion does not amount to deliberate indifference to [a plaintiff's] serious medical needs.” Sanchez v. Vild, 891 F.2d 240, 242 (9th Cir. 1989). A mere delay in medical care, without more, is insufficient to state a claim against prison officials for deliberate indifference. See Shapley v. Nevada Bd. of State Prison Comm'rs, 766 F.2d 404, 407 (9th Cir. 1985). The indifference must be substantial. The action must rise to a level of “unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.” Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105.

         B. All Defendants will be Required to Answer the Complaint

         1. Count One

         As mentioned, the First Amended Complaint does not amend Count One. For the reasons explained in the Court's prior Order (Doc. 6 at 6), the Court finds that Count One of the First Amended Complaint sufficiently states an Eighth Amendment medical care claim against Defendants Thude and Williams. Defendants Thude ...


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