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Gill v. Aranas

United States District Court, D. Nevada

April 10, 2019

ROMEO ARANAS, et al., Defendants


         This Report and Recommendation is made to the Honorable Miranda M. Du, United States District Judge. This action was referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and LR IB 1-4. Before the Court is plaintiff Kevin Rohn Gill's ("Gill") Motion to File Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"). (ECF No. 29.) Defendants responded to the motion requesting that the SAC be screened by the Court (ECF No. 30). The Court now re-screens Gill's SAC pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.


         Section 1915 provides, in relevant part, that "the 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). 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 the court applies the same standard when reviewing the adequacy of a complaint under § 1915. Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012).

         Under Rule 12(b)(6), the court is to dismiss when the complaint fails to "state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Courts accept as true all well-pled factual allegations, set aside legal conclusions, and verify that the factual allegations state a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). Although the complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, it must offer more than "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" and "raise a right to relief above a speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         Upon review, the complaint is construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Chubb Custom Ins. Co. v. Space Systems/Loral Inc., 710 F.3d 946, 956 (9th Cir. 2013). The court takes particular care when reviewing the pleadings of a pro se plaintiff, as a more forgiving standard applies to litigants not represented by counsel. Nordstrom v. Ryan, 762 F.3d 903, 908 (9th Cir. 2014). In addition, a pro se plaintiff must be given notice of the deficiencies of his or her complaint, and leave to amend, unless the opportunity to amend would be futile. Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995). Despite this leniency, a district court may in its discretion dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint if the claim "lacks an arguable basis in either law or fact." Id. This includes claims based on untenable legal conclusions (e.g., claims against defendants who are immune from suit or claims of infringement of a legal interest which clearly does not exist) or fanciful factual allegations (e.g., fantastic or delusional scenarios). Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 1833, 104 L.Ed.2d 338 (1989).


         A. Plaintiffs Complaint

         Gill is a prisoner in the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections ("NDOC") and is currently housed at High Desert State Prison ("HDSP") in Indian springs, Nevada. (ECF No. 1.) However, the events giving rise to this complaint occurred at Northern Nevada Correction Center ("NNCC") in Carson City, Nevada. (ECF No. 29, at 6.) Gill has submitted a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) On April 2, 2018, the Court screened Gill's First Amended Complaint ("FAC") and determined that the Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference could proceed against Defendants Aranas, Brockway, and Perry, but was dismissed without prejudice against Defendants Mar, Long, Walls, Gedney, Manerlang, and Johns. (ECF No. 5, at 13.) Gill was granted leave to amend his complaint to cure the deficiencies outlined therein. (Id.) Gill has now submitted a SAC which reiterates the Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference against Aranas but fails to include Brockway or Perry as Defendants. (ECF No. 29, at 8.) In addition, the SAC includes Gedney, Mar, Walls, Long, and John Doe's number one (1) through ten (10)[1] as Defendants; alleges four separate Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claims; and, seeks declaratory and monetary relief. (ECF No. 29.) Based on Gill's claims, the Court construes the SAC as only alleging one Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against all Defendants.

         The gravamen of Gill's complaint is that he received inadequate medical care while housed at NNCC. (ECF No. 29, at 6.) Gill claims that he saw various NNCC medical staff for his degenerative hip condition, and they were aware of his pain and need for surgery. (Id., at 9-10.) However, NNCC medical staff refused to provide Gill with effective painkillers or to schedule his surgery. (Id.) As a result of his four-year de ay in receiving treatment for his hip condition, Gill now suffers from a permanent handicap and must endure pain for the rest of his life. (Id., at 9.)

         B. ANALYSIS

         1. Count I - Eighth Amendment Deliberate Indifference

         Gill alleges an Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need against each Defendant. (ECF No. 29.) A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment when they act with deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of a prisoner. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 828 (1994). To establish an Eighth Amendment violation, a plaintiff must satisfy both an objective standard-that the deprivation was serious enough to constitute cruel and unusual punishment-and a subjective standard-deliberate indifference. Snow v. McDaniel, 681 F.3d 978, 985 (9th Cir. 2012). To meet he objective standard, the denial of a plaintiffs serious medical need must result in the "'unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.'" Id. (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976)). Serious medical needs are those "that a reasonable doctor or patient would find important and worthy of comment or treatment; the presence of a medical condition that significantly affects an individual's daily activities' or the existence of chronic and substantial pain." Colwell v. Bannister, 763 F.3d 1060, 1066 (9th Cir. 2014) (citation and internal punctuation omitted).

         To meet the subjective standard of deliberate indifference, a prison official must know that a prisoner faces a substantial risk of serious harm and disregard that risk by failing to take reasonable steps to abate it. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. Only where a prison "official 'knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health and safety'" is the subjective element of the test satisfied. Id. (quoting Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1057 (9th Cir. 2004)). "Indifference may appear when prison officials deny, delay or intentionally interfere with medical treatment, or it may be shown by the way in which prison physicians provide medical care." Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006). However, a mere delay in medical treatment is not sufficient for a deliberate indifference claim; there must also be harm. Shapley v. Nev. Bd. of State Prison Comm'rs, 766 F.2d 404, 407 (9th Cir. 1985).

         A disagreement between a plaintiff and defendant physician regarding the course of medical treatment cannot constitute a deliberate indifference claim without establishing that the course of treatment was medically unacceptable and chosen in conscious disregard of an excessive risk to Plaintiffs health. Jackson v. Mclntosh,90 F.3d 330, 332 (9th Cir. 1996). The conduct must consist of "more than ordinary lack of due care." Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835. Not only must the defendant prison official have actual knowledge from which he or she can infer that a substantial risk of harm exists, but he or she must also draw that inference." Id. at 837. The standard lies "somewhere between the poles of negligence at one end and purpose or knowledge at the other[, ]" id. at 836, and does not include "accidental or unintentional failures to provide adequate ...

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