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Schulz v. Ccdc Medical Staff

United States District Court, D. Nevada

October 16, 2014



ANDREW P. GORDON, District Judge.

Plaintiff, who is a prisoner in the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections ("NDOC"), has submitted an amended civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Dkt. #4). The Court now screens Plaintiff's amended civil rights complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.


Federal courts must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings, however, must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) the violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

In addition to the screening requirements under § 1915A, pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), a federal court must dismiss a prisoner's claim, if "the allegation of poverty is untrue, " or if the action "is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Dismissal of a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted is provided for in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and the court applies the same standard under § 1915 when reviewing the adequacy of a complaint or an amended complaint. When a court dismisses a complaint under § 1915(e), the plaintiff should be given leave to amend the complaint with directions as to curing its deficiencies, unless it is clear from the face of the complaint that the deficiencies could not be cured by amendment. See Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995).

Review under Rule 12(b)(6) is essentially a ruling on a question of law. See Chappel v. Lab. Corp. of America, 232 F.3d 719, 723 (9th Cir. 2000). Dismissal for failure to state a claim is proper only if it is clear that the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of the claim that would entitle him or her to relief. See Morley v. Walker, 175 F.3d 756, 759 (9th Cir. 1999). In making this determination, the court takes as true all allegations of material fact stated in the complaint, and the court construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Warshaw v. Xoma Corp., 74 F.3d 955, 957 (9th Cir. 1996). Allegations of a pro se complainant are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. See Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980). While the standard under Rule 12(b)(6) does not require detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff must provide more than mere labels and conclusions. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action is insufficient. Id.

Additionally, a reviewing court should "begin by identifying pleadings [allegations] that, because they are no more than mere conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported with factual allegations." Id. "When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." 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.

Finally, all or part of a complaint filed by a prisoner may therefore be dismissed sua sponte if the prisoner's claims lack an arguable basis either in law or in fact. This includes claims based on legal conclusions that are untenable (e.g., claims against defendants who are immune from suit or claims of infringement of a legal interest which clearly does not exist), as well as claims based on fanciful factual allegations (e.g., fantastic or delusional scenarios). See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989); see also McKeever v. Block, 932 F.2d 795, 798 (9th Cir. 1991).


A. Original Complaint

On July 11, 2014, this Court issued a screening order on the original complaint. (Dkt. #2). In the original complaint, Plaintiff alleged three counts. ( Id. at 3). In Count I, Plaintiff alleged a deliberate indifference to serious medical needs claim. ( Id. at 4). This Court dismissed the claim, without prejudice, with leave to amend. ( Id. at 5). The Court found that it was unclear whether Plaintiff had disagreed with the medical staff's treatment of his seizures or whether the medical staff was acting with a conscious disregard to an excessive risk to Plaintiff's health. ( Id. ). This Court directed Plaintiff to provide more details about the medical staff's actions and responses to his medication and seizures. ( Id. ) In Count II, Plaintiff alleged violations of the First Amendment regarding legal mail and Fourteenth Amendment access to the courts. ( Id. at 6). This Court found that the legal mail claim could proceed but dismissed the denial of access to the courts claim with leave to amend. ( Id. at 6-7). In Count III, Plaintiff alleged a conditions of confinement claim which this Court dismissed with prejudice. ( Id. at 7-8). The Court informed Plaintiff that if he chose to file an amended complaint, the amended complaint superseded the original complaint and, thus, the amended complaint had to be complete in itself. ( Id. at 8). The Court informed Plaintiff that his amended complaint "must contain all claims, defendants, and factual allegations that Plaintiff wishe[d] to pursue in this lawsuit." ( Id. at 9).

B. Amended Complaint

In the amended complaint, Plaintiff sues Defendant CCDC Medical Staff for events that took place while Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Clark County Detention Center ("CCDC"). (Dkt. #4 at 1-2). Plaintiff alleges one count and seeks monetary damages for every day that he had been in disciplinary housing. ( Id. at 4, 9).

The amended complaint alleges the following: On July 14, 2014, the medical staff took Plaintiff off Dilantin, a medication that Plaintiff had been on since he was twelve for epileptic seizures. ( Id. at 3). The medical staff put Plaintiff on a different medication which caused a negative reaction in Plaintiff. ( Id. ) That medication caused Plaintiff to itch, his throat to swell, and his private parts to blister. ( Id. ...

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