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Baker v. Bennett

United States District Court, D. Nevada

May 16, 2018

ANTWAN BAKER Plaintiff,
v.
DR. BENNETT, et al., Defendants.

          SCREENING ORDER

         Plaintiff has submitted a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and has filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 1-1, 1). The matter of the filing fee shall be temporarily deferred. The court now screens plaintiff's civil rights complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         I. IN FORMA PAUPERIS APPLICATION

         Based on the financial information provided, the court grants plaintiff leave to proceed without prepayment of fees or costs pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1).[1]

         II. SCREENING STANDARD

         “[T]he court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). This provision applies to all actions filed in forma pauperis, whether or not the plaintiff is incarcerated. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1129 (9th Cir. 2000); see also Calhoun v. Stahl, 254 F.3d 845 (9th Cir. 2001) (per curiam).

         Dismissal of a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted is provided for in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) tracks that language. Thus, when reviewing the adequacy of a complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), the court applies the same standard as is applied under Rule 12(b)(6). See Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012) (“The standard for determining whether a plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) standard for failure to state a claim.”). Review under 12(b)(6) is essentially a ruling on a question of law. See Chappel v. Lab. Corp. of Am., 232 F.3d 719, 723 (9th Cir. 2000).

         In reviewing the complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations, construe the pleadings in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969). Allegations in pro se complaints are “held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         A complaint must contain more than a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, ” it must contain factual allegations sufficient to “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). “The pleading must contain something more . . . than . . . a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action.” Id. (quoting 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1216, at 235-36 (3d ed. 2004)). At a minimum, a plaintiff should state “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570; see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         “A pro se litigant must be given leave to amend his or her complaint, and some notice of its deficiencies, unless it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by amendment.” Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995).

         III. SCREENING OF COMPLAINT

         In the complaint, plaintiff sues Dr. Bennett and the City of Las Vegas, Nevada. (ECF No. 1-1 at 1). Plaintiff alleges one count and seeks monetary damages. (Id. at 4, 9).

         Plaintiff alleges that, from July 14, 2016 to June 2, 2017, Dr. Bennett forcibly medicated him with Zyprexa, Depakote, and Risperdal even though plaintiff was not mentally ill and had been proven competent by several psychologists prior to July 14, 2016. (Id. at 3, 23, 28). Plaintiff alleges that the forced medication was medical malpractice.[2] (Id. at 4).

         The Court construes plaintiff's allegations as a Fourteenth Amendment due process claim. In Washington v. Harper, 494 U.S. 210 (1990), the Supreme Court held that “the Due Process Clause permits the State to treat a prison inmate who has a serious mental illness with antipsychotic drugs against his will, if the inmate is dangerous to himself or others and the treatment is in the inmate's medical interest.” Id. at 227. However, the Due Process Clause requires certain essential procedural protections to ensure that the decision to medicate an inmate against his will is neither arbitrary nor erroneous. Id. at 228, 236. Although a court would have to examine the procedures in this present case, the Supreme Court has held that notice, the right to be present at an adversary hearing, and the right to present and cross-examine witnesses are sufficient procedures to meet the requirements of due process. Id. at 235.

         In addition, municipalities such as the City of Las Vegas, may not be held liable under § 1983 unless action pursuant to municipal custom or policy caused a constitutional tort. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978). A municipality ...


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