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Wallace v. Department of Corrections of Washington

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

May 20, 2019

William James Mathew Wallace II, Plaintiff,
v.
Department of Corrections of Washington,

          ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE OR AMEND COMPLAINT

          J. Richard Creatura, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff William James Mathew Wallace II, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges his constitutional rights were violated when he was denied adequate medical treatment for his leg and access to accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). However, plaintiff has failed to name a proper defendant with respect to his § 1983 claims and has failed to state a claim under the ADA. Having reviewed and screened plaintiff's complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court declines to serve plaintiff's complaint because plaintiff has yet to plead sufficient facts to demonstrate that defendant violated his constitutional rights. However, the Court provides plaintiff leave to file an amended pleading by June 20, 2019, to cure the deficiencies identified herein.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, who is currently housed at the Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail, alleges that while housed at Washington Department of Corrections (“DOC”) facilities, he received no medical treatment or accommodations for his leg. Dkt. 11 at 5. Plaintiff was initially housed at Washington Corrections Center (“WCC”) and then transferred to Airway Heights Corrections Center (“AHCC”). See Dkt. 11.

         Plaintiff alleges that he broke his leg in 2017, and before surgery could be completed, he was arrested and housed at the Pierce County Jail. Dkt. 11 at 4. Plaintiff alleges that non-party Naphcare, the medical provider at Pierce County Jail, was negligent, and declared his leg was no longer broken. Id. Plaintiff alleges non-party Naphcare ignored his requests for treatment. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that he entered DOC custody on February 17, 2018 and was approved for leg surgery on April 23, 2018. Id. at 5. Plaintiff alleges that defendant DOC purposely delayed treatment because he was near his release date. Id. at 5, 12. Plaintiff alleges that he has severe pain and limited mobility. Id. at 12. Plaintiff alleges that he will never be able to walk normally again or be without pain due to the delay in treatment. Id.

         With respect to his accommodations, plaintiff alleges that he did not have access to handicapped showers for five months. Dkt. 11 at 5. Plaintiff alleges that he had to purchase his own wheelchair because defendant DOC did not provide him with one. Id. Plaintiff alleges that he was housed in an upper bunk and a top tier, which caused him pain. Id. at 7.

         Plaintiff seeks $1 million in damages.

         DISCUSSION

         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).

         I. Section 1983 Claims

         In order to state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must sufficiently allege that: (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 step, 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 names the DOC as the only defendant. Dkt. 11. Section 1983 applies to the actions of “persons” acting under the color of state law. The DOC, as an arm of the state of Washington, is not a “person” for purposes of a § 1983 civil rights action. See Will v. Michigan Dep't. of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 65, 71 (1989). Additionally, there is no evidence that the state of Washington has waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity in federal courts. Therefore, the DOC is a state agency which cannot be sued under § 1983.

         The Court notes that plaintiff's complaint alleges that he was seen and treated by various nurses and physicians. Dkt. 11. However, plaintiff has failed to name these individuals as defendants. If plaintiff wishes to pursue claims against these individuals, or some other individual acting under color of state law, then he must name them as defendants in his amended complaint and allege facts sufficient to meet the required elements of a claim under the Eighth Amendment. See 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) (An Eighth ...


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