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O'Grady v. Tacoma General Hospital

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

February 26, 2014

KRISTINE O'GRADY, Plaintiff,
v.
TACOMA GENERAL HOSPITAL, WASHINGTON CORRECTION CENTER FOR WOMEN, JOHN/JANE DOES, Defendants.

ORDER TO AMEND COMPLAINT OR SHOW CAUSE

KAREN L. STROMBOM, Magistrate Judge.

Pro se Plaintiff Kristine O'Grady, proceeding in forma pauperis, brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights action alleging that her civil rights were violated when a doctor at Tacoma General Hospital (TGH) and unidentified medical personnel at the Washington Correction Center for Women (WCCW) failed to provide appropriate medical treatment. Dkt. 5, p. 3. The Court declines to serve the complaint because it contains pleading deficiencies. As discussed below, the Court ORDERS Plaintiff to show cause - by filing an amended complaint by March 28, 2014 - why this matter should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges that on February 19, 2011, an unidentified doctor at TG injured her intestine during a liver biopsy. The next day, she declared a medical emergency at WCCW because of pain in her stomach. An unidentified nurse told her that it was gas and that she should return to her cell. Dkt. 5, p. 3. The following day, on February 21, 2011, Plaintiff called another medical emergency and an unidentified nurse told her she did not know why Plaintiff was having pain and she sent Plaintiff back to her cell. On February 23, 2011, Plaintiff called a third medical emergency when she found blood in her stool. An unidentified nurse told Plaintiff it was gas. A couple of hours later, Plaintiff had a seizure and Doctor Anderson at WCCW called 911. Plaintiff alleges that she was sent to two different hospitals, that she had surgery, was given two blood transfusions and placed on medication. It is unclear where this treatment occurred. Plaintiff claims that she still has pain where her intestines were perforated, and that she has not yet been given hepatitis C treatment, although she also alleges that Doctor Walter [last name unclear in pleading] at WCCW told her that she did not need such treatment. Id.

Plaintiff seeks hepatitis C treatment and compensation for "pain and suffering, alone [sic] with medical bills." Id., at 4. Plaintiff states that there is a grievance procedure available at WCCW, but that she did not file any grievances concerning the facts relating to her complaint because she "was sick." Id., p. 2.

DISCUSSION

The Court will dismiss a complaint at any time if the action fails to state a claim, raises frivolous or malicious claims, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). To sustain a § 1983 action, a plaintiff must show (a) that she suffered a violation of rights protected by the Constitution or created by federal statute, and (b) that the violation was proximately caused by a person acting under color of state or federal law. See Crumpton v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991). In general, a § 1983 plaintiff must allege that a defendant's own conduct violated the plaintiff's civil rights because a defendant cannot be held liable solely on the basis of supervisory responsibility or position. See City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 385-90 (1989); Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691-94 (1978). Generally, private parties do not act under color of state law. Price v. Hawaii, 939 F.2d 702, 707-08 (9th Cir. 1991).

Plaintiff's complaint suffers from deficiencies that, if not corrected in an amended complaint, require dismissal. In the amended complaint, Plaintiff must write out short, plain statements telling the Court: (1) the constitutional right Plaintiff believes was violated; (2) the name of the person who violated the right; (3) exactly what that individual did or failed to do; (4) how the action or inaction of that person is connected to the violation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights; and (5) what specific injury Plaintiff suffered because of that person's conduct. See Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 371-72, 377, 96 S.Ct. 598, 46 L.Ed.2d 561 (1976). Plaintiff is further advised as follows.

A. Liability of Parties

(1) Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW)

Neither states nor state officials acting in their official capacities are persons for purposes of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Will v. Michigan Dept. of State Police, 491 U.S. 48, 71 (1989). This rule applies equally to state agencies. See Kaimowitz v. Board of Trustees of the Univ. of Ill., 951 F.2d 765, 767 (7th Cir.1991); Johnson v. Rodriguez, 943 F.2d 104, 108 (1st Cir.1991). Because it is not a person within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff has not stated a claim against the WCCW. Plaintiff's claim against the WCCW is also barred by the Eleventh Amendment.

The Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution bars a person from suing a state in federal court without the state's consent. See Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44 (1996); Natural Resources Defense Council v. California Dep't of Transportation, 96 F.3d 420, 421 (9th Cir.1996). Eleventh Amendment immunity extends to state agencies. Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Holdeman, 465 U.S. 89, 101-102 (1984). Eleventh Amendment immunity is not automatically waived in actions brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332 (1979). Washington has not waived the protection of the Eleventh Amendment. Edgar v. State, 92 Wash.2d 217, 595 P.2d 534 (1979). Therefore, the WCCW would be entitled to dismissal with prejudice.

Plaintiff must name the individual or individuals within the WCCW who caused or personally participated in causing her harm. She must describe what each individual did, when they did it, and describe how this harmed her. In addition, Plaintiff is advised that while damages must be sought against a person in their individual capacity, injunctive relief must be sought against a person in their official capacity. See, Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 677 (1974). ...


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