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Turner v. NAPH Care Inc.

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

July 26, 2017

NAPH CARE INC., Defendant.


          David W. Christel United States Magistrate Judge.

         Order Plaintiff Jonathan Donnell Turner, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Having reviewed and screened Plaintiff’s Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court declines to serve the Complaint but provides Plaintiff leave to file an amended pleading by August 25, 2017, to cure the deficiencies identified herein.


         Plaintiff, who is currently incarcerated at the Pierce County Jail, alleges his Eighth Amendment rights to adequate medical care were violated when an unknown nurse negligently provided him with the wrong medication for his high blood pressure. Dkt. 4. Plaintiff contends the nurse is employed by Defendant Naph Care, Inc. Id.


         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995, the Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must “dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint: (1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” Id. at (b); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193 (9th Cir. 1998).

         In order to state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must show: (1) he suffered a violation of rights protected by the Constitution or created by federal statute, and (2) the violation was proximately caused by a person acting under color of state law. See Crumpton v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991). The first step in a § 1983 claim is therefore to identify the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994). To satisfy the second prong, a plaintiff must allege facts showing how individually named defendants caused, or personally participated in causing, the harm alleged in the complaint. See Arnold v. IBM, 637 F.2d 1350, 1355 (9th Cir. 1981).

         Plaintiff’s Complaint suffers from deficiencies requiring dismissal if not corrected in an amended complaint.

         I. Eighth Amendment Claim

         Plaintiff alleges Defendant’s employee provided him with negligent medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Dkt. 4. An Eighth Amendment medical claim has two elements: (1) “the seriousness of the prisoner’s medical need and [(2)] the nature of the defendant’s response to that need.” McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir.1991), overruled on other grounds by WMX Techs., Inc. v. Miller, 104 F.3d 1133 (9th Cir.1997) (en banc).

         A medical need is serious “if the failure to treat the prisoner’s condition could result in further significant injury or the ‘unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.’” McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1059 (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976)). “The existence of an injury 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 are examples of indications that a prisoner has a ‘serious’ need for medical treatment.” Id. at 1059-1060.

         If a plaintiff shows he has a serious medical need, he must then show the prison officials responded to the need with deliberate indifference. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1970). “[D]eliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.” Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104 (1976) (internal citation omitted); see also Hudson v. McMillan, 503 U.S. 1, 6 (1992). It requires “a purposeful act or failure to act on the part of the defendant.” McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1060. In other words, “[a] defendant must purposefully ignore or fail to respond to a prisoner’s pain or possible medical need.” Id. A prison official, accordingly, will not be found deliberately indifferent to a prisoner’s serious medical needs “unless the official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. Thus, an accusation that a party “has been negligent in diagnosing or treating a medical condition does not state a valid claim of medical mistreatment under the Eight Amendment.” Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106.

         Here, Plaintiff has not demonstrated that any prison official acted with deliberate indifference to his medical condition. Plaintiff states he is suffering from high blood pressure and, instead of receiving his blood pressure medication, he received someone else’s “mental health medication.” Dkt. 4. A blood pressure medication prescription can be a serious medical need. A reasonable doctor or patient could find the condition “worthy of comment or treatment” and it could lead to further injury if untreated. McGuckin, 974 U.S. at 1059-1060. However, Plaintiff has only alleged the nurse employed by Defendant was negligent when she gave him the wrong medication. Negligence alone is not enough to state a valid claim for mistreatment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106. Because of this, Plaintiff has not alleged sufficient facts to support such a claim.

         If Plaintiff wishes to pursue an Eighth Amendment claim, he must provide an amended complaint showing how Defendant’s actions constituted deliberate indifference, not mere ...

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