United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
JOHN W. LAMBERT, Plaintiff,
MHP MERKEL, et al., Defendants.
ORDER DECLINING TO SERVE COMPLAINT AND GRANTING LEAVE
ALICE THEILER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
John Lambert is currently confined at the Snohomish County
Jail in Everett, Washington. He has submitted to the Court
for filing a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. The Court, having reviewed plaintiff's complaint,
hereby finds and ORDERS as follows:
Plaintiff alleges in his civil rights complaint that he has
serious mental health issues and that despite submitting
numerous kites to the mental health and medical departments
asking for his medication, “it took a ridiculous amount
of effort” to get help. (Dkt. 4-1 at 3.) He further
asserts that when a mental health professional
(“MHP”) did come to see him, she was “very
rude, unprofessional and antagonizing.” (Dkt. 4-1 at
3.) Plaintiff identifies Snohomish County Corrections and MHP
Merkel as defendants in his complaint. (Id. at 1-2.)
Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides
that in order for a pleading to state a claim for relief it
must contain a short and plain statement of the grounds for
the court's jurisdiction, a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, and
a demand for the relief sought. The statement of the claim
must be sufficient to “give the defendant fair notice
of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon
which it rests.” Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S.
41, 47 (1957). The factual allegations of a complaint must be
“enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). In addition, a
complaint must allege facts to state a claim for relief that
is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
order to state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, a plaintiff must show (1) that he suffered a violation
of rights protected by the Constitution or created by federal
statute, and (2) 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).
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).
defendant cannot be held liable solely on the basis of
supervisory responsibility or position. Monell v.
Department of Social Servs., of City of New York, 436
U.S. 658, 691-694 (1978). Rather, a plaintiff must allege
that a defendant's own conduct violated the
plaintiff's civil rights. City of Canton, Ohio v.
Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 385-90 (1989). A local government
unit or municipality can be sued as a “person”
under § 1983. Monell, 436 U.S. at 691. However,
a municipality cannot be held liable under § 1983 solely
because it employs a tortfeasor. Id. A plaintiff
seeking to impose liability on a municipality under §
1983 must identify a municipal “policy” or
“custom” that caused his or her injury. Bryan
County Commissioners v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 403 (1997)
(citing Monell 436 U.S. at 694).
Court declines to order that plaintiff's complaint be
served because his complaint is deficient in the following
(a) Plaintiff identifies Snohomish County Corrections as a
defendant in this action. However, Snohomish County
Corrections is an entity of Snohomish County and, as such, is
not a proper defendant in this action. See Nolan v.
Snohomish County, 59 Wn.App. 876, 883 (1990) (“in
a legal action involving a county, the county itself is the
only legal entity capable of suing and being sued”).
Plaintiff may pursue a claim against Snohomish County itself,
but in order to do so he must specifically identify the
County as a defendant in this action, he must identify the
County “policy” or “custom” that
caused him harm, and he must identify the federal
constitutional right that he believes has been violated by
the identified “policy” or “custom.”
(b) Plaintiff does not specifically allege in his complaint
any violation of a federal constitutional right. However, it
appears that he may be attempting to assert a claim that he
has been denied adequate medical or mental health care at the
Snohomish County Jail. When a claim of inadequate medical or
mental health care is brought by a pretrial detainee, the
claim arises under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment. Clouthier v. County of Contra Costa, 591
F.3d 1232, 1243-44 (9th Cir. 2010); Simmons v. Navajo
County, Ariz., 609 F.3d 1011, 1017 (9th Cir. 2010).
However, such claims are properly evaluated under Eighth
Amendment standards. See id.
order to establish an Eighth Amendment violation, a prisoner
must satisfy a two-part test containing both an objective and
a subjective component. The Eighth Amendment standard
requires proof that (1) the alleged wrongdoing was
objectively “harmful enough” to establish a
constitutional violation; and (2) the prison official acted
with a sufficiently culpable state of mind. Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). The objective
component of an Eighth Amendment claim is “contextual
and responsive to ‘contemporary standards of
decency.'” Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S.
1, 8 (1992) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97,
103 (1976)). The state of mind requirement under the
subjective component of the Eighth Amendment standard has
been defined as “deliberate indifference” to an
inmate's health or safety. Farmer, 511 U.S. at
834. Under the “deliberate indifference”
standard, a prison official cannot be found liable for
denying an inmate humane conditions of confinement unless the
official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate
health or safety. Id. at 837. “[T]he official
must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be
drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he
must also draw the inference.” Id.
indicates in his complaint that he experienced a delay in
receiving medication to address his mental health issues, but
he fails to make clear who he believes was responsible for
the delay or what harm he suffered as a result of any alleged
delay. If plaintiff wishes to proceed on a claim that he was
denied adequate mental health care, he must specifically
identify the individuals involved in the denial of such care,
and he must allege specific facts demonstrating that each
named individual was deliberately indifferent to a serious
mental health or medical need.
respect to MHP Merkel, the Court notes that plaintiff asserts
only that this defendant was rude and unprofessional. These
assertions are not sufficient to demonstrate that this
individual violated plaintiff's federal constitutional
rights. Again, if plaintiff wishes to proceed against MHP
Merkel, he must allege facts showing that she was
deliberately indifferent to a serious mental health or
medical need. Rude behavior and a lack of professionalism
simply does not meet that standard.
Plaintiff may file an amended complaint curing the above
noted deficiencies within thirty (30)
days of the date on which this Order is signed.
The amended complaint must carry the same case number as this
one. If no amended complaint is timely filed, the Court will
recommend that this action be dismissed.
is advised that an amended pleading operates as a
complete substitute for an original pleading.
See Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1262 (9th
Cir.) (citing Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner
& Co., Inc., 896 F.2d 1542, 1546 (9th Cir. 1990) (as
amended), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 915 (1992). Thus,
any amended complaint must clearly identify the defendant(s),
the constitutional claim(s) ...