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Robinson v. Balderrama

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

June 13, 2018

ABEL ROBINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
MIGUEL BALDERRAMA, Defendants.

          ORDER DIRECTING SERVICE OF CIVIL RIGHTS COMPLAINT

          THERESA L. FRICKE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This is a civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is proceeding with this action pro se and in forma pauperis. The court previously issued an Order to Show Cause or Amend the Complaint, based upon its determination that the complaint did not adequately allege an Eighth Amendment claim for inadequate medical care. Dkt. 12. At the time of the prior order, claims under the Eighth and Fourteenth amendments were subject to the same standard. Id. However, since the date of that order, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has held that a different, objective, standard applies to claims of inadequate medical care by a pre-trial detainee, which are analyzed under the Fourteenth Amendment. Gordon v. County of Orange, 888 F.3d 118, 1124-25 (9th Cir. 2018).

         Although it is not clearly stated in the complaint, it appears to the Court that plaintiff might be a pre-trial detainee. If so, the standard applicable to his claims is now less stringent than is required for Eighth Amendment claims. Pursuant to Gordon, a pre-trial detainee must plead the following elements:

(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 suffering serious harm; (iii) the defendant did not take reasonable 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 defendant's conduct obvious; and (iv) by not taking such measures, the defendant caused the plaintiff's injuries.

888 F.3d at 1125. The third element requires only that defendant's conduct be “objectively unreasonable”; unlike Eighth Amendment claims, there is no requirement that plaintiff establish that defendant subjectively knew of an excessive risk to inmate health or safety. Id. However, “the plaintiff must prove more than negligence but less than subjective intent-something akin to reckless disregard.” 888 F.3d at 1125.

         This Court previously determined that the complaint did not meet the Eighth Amendment subjective standard, Dkt. 12; however, it is not clear that the complaint fails to comply with the Fourteenth Amendment objective standard set forth above, which would now apply if plaintiff were a pre-trial detainee. Accordingly, it does not appear to the Court at this stage of the litigation that the complaint is “frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim for which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. §1915A(b).

         The Court therefore ORDERS as follows:

         (1) Service by Clerk

         The Clerk is directed to send the following to defendant by first class mail: a copy of plaintiff's Complaint, a copy of this Order, two copies of the notice of lawsuit and request for waiver of service of summons, a waiver of service of summons, and a return envelope, postage prepaid, addressed to the Clerk's Office.

         (2) Response Required

         Defendant(s) shall have thirty (30) days within which to return the enclosed waiver of service of summons. A defendant who timely returns the signed waiver shall have sixty (60) days after the date designated on the notice of lawsuit to file and serve an answer to the complaint or a motion permitted under Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         A defendant who fails to timely return the signed waiver will be personally served with a summons and complaint, and may be required to pay the full costs of such service, pursuant to Rule 4(d)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A defendant who has been personally served shall file an answer or motion permitted under Rule 12 within thirty (30) days after service.

         (3) Filing and Service by Parties, Generally

         All attorneys admitted to practice before this Court are required to file documents electronically via the Court's CM/ECF system. Counsel are directed to the Court's website, www.wawd.uscourts.gov, for a detailed description of the requirements for filing via CM/ECF. All non-attorneys, such as pro se parties and/or prisoners, may continue to file a paper original with the Clerk. All filings, whether filed electronically or in traditional ...


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