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Husted v. State

United States District Court, D. Oregon

May 28, 2019



          Michael H. Simon, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff, an inmate at the Santiam Correctional Institution, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pursuant to an Order entered this date, the Court granted Plaintiffs Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. However, for the reasons set forth below, the. Court dismisses Plaintiffs Complaint.


         Plaintiff names as Defendants the State of Oregon, Polk County, the Polk County Jail (the "Jail"), Jail Director Captain Isham, Deputy Reese, Deputy Cook and Deputy Kong. Plaintiff includes the designation "et al" in the caption of his Complaint but does not identify any additional Defendants in the Complaint itself, except that Plaintiff does refer to a Deputy Smalley in one claim.

         Plaintiff alleges that while incarcerated at the Polk County Jail from September to October of 2018, Defendants denied Plaintiff proper medical care and his right to doctor-patient privacy.[1] Plaintiff alleges he is on insulin, and that there was no medical staff on duty to properly administer and monitor his medication. Instead, he alleges, Deputies Reese, Cook, Kong, Smalley, and others, who were not properly licensed or trained to give Plaintiff insulin did so, putting Plaintiffs health at risk. Plaintiff also alleges that Deputy Cook denied Plaintiff food "to balance my insulin and sugar needs during my low CBG needs."

         By way of remedy, Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief requiring access to medical care for Jail inmates in the future, as well as training for deputies on proper procedures for dealing with medical issues. Plaintiff also seeks money damages.


         A district court must dismiss an action initiated by a prisoner seeking redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee, if the Court determines that the action (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). When a plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the court must construe the pleadings liberally and afford the plaintiff the benefit of any doubt. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Moreover, before dismissing a pro se civil rights complaint for failure to state a claim, the court supplies the plaintiff with a' statement of the complaint's deficiencies. Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dept., 839F.2d621, 623-24 (9th Cir. 1988); Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1136 (9th Cir. 1987). A pro se litigant will be given leave, to amend his or her complaint unless it is clear that the deficiencies of the complaint cannot be cured by amendment. Karim-Panahi, 83 9 F.2d at 623; Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130-31 (9th Cir. 2000).


         To state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege facts showing the deprivation of a right, privilege or immunity secured by the Constitution or federal law by a person acting under color of state law. L.W. v. Grubbs, 974 F.2d 119, 120 (9th Cir. 1992); Collins v. Womancare, 878 F.2d 1145, 1147 (9th Cir. 1989).

         A pretrial detainee's claim of denial of adequate medical care arises under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See Gordon v. County of Orange, 888 F.3d 1118, 1124-25 (9th Cir. 2018), cert, denied, 139 S.Ct. 794 (2019); see also Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 527 n.16 (1979) (Due Process Clause is relied on for pretrial detainees' claims because a "[s]tate does not acquire the power to punish with which the Eighth Amendment is concerned until after it has secured a formal adjudication of guilt in accordance with due process of law"). The deliberate-indifference standard that applies to a pretrial detainee's medical claim is an objective one rather than subjective, as for a convicted prisoner's claim. In Gordon, the Ninth Circuit recently set forth the objective standard applicable to pretrial detainees as follows:

[T]he elements of a pretrial detainee's medical care claim against an individual defendant under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment are: (i) the defendant made an intentional decision with respect to the conditions under which the plaintiff was confined; (ii) those conditions put the plaintiff at substantial risk of serious harm; (iii) the defendant did not take reasonably available measures to abate that risk, even though a reasonable official in the circumstances would have appreciated the high degree of risk involved-making the consequences of the defendant's conduct obvious; and (iv) by not taking such measure, the defendant caused the plaintiff s injuries.

Gordon, 888 1125, With regard to Plaintiff s medical treatment at the Jail, Plaintiff presents only conclusory and vague allegations. Specifically, Plaintiff does not allege that he suffered any injury, let alone serious harm, as a result of the Deputies' actions. Accordingly, the Court cannot determine without further clarification whether Plaintiff may state a plausible claim under the Fourteenth Amendment. If Plaintiff amends the Complaint, he should set forth in a short and plain statement what each Defendant did or did not do and how Plaintiff was harmed thereby.

         Moreover, the Polk County Jail is not a legal entity capable of being sued under § 1983. Matthews v. Pierce County Sheriff's Dept, Case No.3:19-cv-05329-KBL-DWC, 2019 WL2141640, at *3 (W.D. Wash. May 16, 2019). To the extent Plaintiff asserts a claim against the municipality of Polk County, to state such a claim he must show the County's employees or agents acted through an official custom, pattern, or policy permitting deliberate indifference to, or violating, the Plaintiffs civil rights, or that the entity ratified the unlawful conduct. Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Services,436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978). Plaintiff must show (1) deprivation of a constitutional right; (2) the municipality has a policy; (3) the policy ...

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