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Rojas v. Boyles

filed*fn*: May 8, 1992.

ROBERTO ROJAS, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
LARRY BOYLES, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Nevada. D.C. No. CV-89-0637-LDG. Lloyd D. George, District Judge, Presiding.

Before: Hug, Thompson, and Fernandez, Circuit Judges.

MEMORANDUM

Roberto Rojas appeals the district court's judgment in favor of defendant prison officials in his pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action. Rojas alleged that prison officials violated his eighth amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by transporting him in a van without a functioning air condition unit. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We affirm.

OVERVIEW

On July 13, 1989, Southern Nevada Correction Center (SNCC) officers transported inmate Rojas and several others to Las Vegas in a van without a functioning air condition unit. The day time temperature in Las Vegas on July 13, 1989 reached 106 degrees F. It is undisputed that Rojas suffered from heat exhaustion, was treated almost immediately upon his return to SNCC, and recovered within fifteen minutes of treatment.

On March 20, 1991, the district Judge rejected Rojas's claim that his transportation in a non-air conditioned van violated the eighth amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Rojas appeals on several grounds.

Discussion

1. Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Rojas first argues the district court erred by rejecting his substantive eighth amendment argument. We review de novo a district court's decision on questions of law and fact implicating constitutional rights. LaDuke v. Nelson, 762 F.2d 1318, 1322 (9th Cir. 1985), amended, 796 F.2d 309 (1986).

Liberally construing Rojas's claim, Rojas challenges his medical treatment and also the condition of his confinement in the non-air conditioned van. An inmate must show "deliberate indifference" to serious medical needs on the part of prison authorities to establish a constitutional violation. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106, 97 S. Ct. 285, 292 (1976). Similarly, "deliberate indifference" to the well-being of the inmate must also be shown to establish that prison conditions such as excessive heat or poor ventilation violate the eighth amendment. Wilson v. Seiter, 111 S. Ct. 2321, 2326-27 (1991). "In determining deliberate indifference, we scrutinize the particular facts and look for substantial indifference in the individual case, indicating more than mere negligence or isolated occurrences of neglect." Wood v. Housewright, 900 F.2d 1332, 1334 (9th Cir. 1990).

Because Rojas was treated almost immediately upon his return to SNCC and recovered within minutes, we do not believe prison officials demonstrated deliberate indifference to Rojas's medical needs or the conditions of confinement. See Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106, 97 S. Ct. at 292; Wilson, 111 S. Ct. at 2326-27. The one-time transportation of Rojas in a van without air conditioning cannot be properly characterized as more than an isolated occurrence of neglect. See Wood, 900 F.2d at 1334. Accordingly, we reject Rojas' claim of cruel and unusual punishment.

2. Request for Counsel

Rojas also challenges the district court's refusal to appoint counsel under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d). We review for an abuse of discretion the district court's denial of Rojas' two motions for appointment of counsel. Wilborn v. Escalderon, 789 F.2d 1328, 1331 (9th Cir. 1986).

Counsel may be appointed under ยง 1915(d) only under "exceptional circumstances." Id. Exceptional circumstances exist if (1) the petitioner is unable to effectively litigate his or her claims because of "the complexity of the legal issues ...


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