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Guille v. Sweeney

United States District Court, D. Montana, Helena Division

January 20, 2015

ADRIAN GUILLE, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSH SWEENEY, TOM WOOD, CHRIS CONNEL, MYRON BEESON, SGT. ROBERT TURNER, K. COZBY, JOSH KNIGHT, BILLIE REICH, and JOHN and JANE DOES, Defendants.

ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

JOHN JOHNSTON, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Adrian Guille has filed a Complaint alleging Defendants denied him due process during a disciplinary hearing, denied him adequate medical care, and utilized excessive force during a cell extraction at Montana State Prison. (Complaint, Doc. 2 at 6.) He also raises state law claims of negligence, battery, and assault. (Doc. 2 at 23-24). Mr. Guille's denial of medical care and denial of due process claims should be dismissed. His Eighth Amendment excessive force claims and state law claims will be served upon Defendants Sweeny, Wood, Connel, Beeson, Turner, Knight, John Does 1-4, and the John Doe cage officer.

I. JURISDICTION

Mr. Guille filed this action in federal court, in the Helena Division of the

District of Montana. (Complaint, Doc. 2.) Venue is proper, as he is incarcerated in and alleges wrongs committed in Powell County, Montana. Local Rule 3.2(b)(3). The Court has personal jurisdiction over the parties, all of whom are found in Montana. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(1)(A); Mont. R. Civ. P. 4(b). Read liberally, the Complaint alleges a violation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, invoking subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 28 U.S.C. § 1343(a). The case was assigned to Hon. Dana Christensen, Chief United States District Court Judge, and referred to the undersigned. Local Rule 72.2(a)(1).

II. STATUS

Mr. Guille is a prisoner incarcerated at the Snake River Correctional Institution in Ontario, Oregon. (Doc. 10.) Pursuant to the federal statutes governing proceedings in forma pauperis and cases filed by prisoners, federal courts must screen a case to assess the merits of the claims. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A(a). Accordingly, the Court must identify cognizable claims, or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), § 1915A. If so, the case must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A(b). This is that review.

III. STANDARDS

Stating a claim

A complaint must allege sufficient factual matter to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Plausibility is less than probability, but requires "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. Pleadings that are no more than conclusions are not entitled to the presumption of truth and may be disregarded. Id. at 679. A plaintiff must plead the essential elements of a claim to avoid dismissal. Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).

Leave to amend

The Court liberally construes pro se pleadings. Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1137 (9th Cir. 1987). "Unless it is absolutely clear that no amendment can cure the defect... a pro se litigant is entitled to notice of the complaint's deficiencies and an opportunity to amend prior to dismissal of the action." Lucas v. Dep't of Corr., 66 F.3d 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995).

Leave to amend a complaint should be given freely "when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15. A district court, however, should dismiss a complaint without granting leave to amend if amendments would be futile. Klamath Lake Pharmaceutical Ass'n v. Klamath Medical Services Bureau, 701 F.2d 1276, 1293 (9th Cir. 1983); Moore v. Kayport Package Exp., Inc., 885 F.2d 531, 538 (9th Cir. 1989).

Fourteenth Amendment-Procedural Due Process

Prisoners are entitled to due process protections when subject to disciplinary sanctions that implicate "a protected liberty interest-that is, where the conditions of confinement impose an atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life.'" Brown v. Oregon Dep't of Corrections, ___ F.3d ___, 2014 WL 1687758 (9th Cir. 2014) ( quoting Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995)). A litigant alleging a due process violation must first demonstrate that he was deprived of a liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause and then show that the procedures attendant upon the deprivation were not constitutionally sufficient. Kentucky Dep't of Corrections v. Thompson, 490 U.S. 454, 459-60 (1989).

Prisoners are entitled to due process protections "only where the deprivation implicates a protected liberty interest-that is, where the conditions of confinement impose an atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life.'" Brown v. Oregon Dept. of Corrections, 751 F.3d 983, 987 (9th Cir. 2014) ( quoting Sandin, 515 U.S. at 484).

Grievance Process

An inmate does not have a constitutional right to have his grievances decided or processed in a particular manner. Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 860 (9th Cir. 2003) ("[I]nmates lack a separate constitutional entitlement to a specific grievance procedure.").

Eighth Amendment-Denial of Medical Care

To state an Eighth Amendment claim for denial of medical care, a plaintiff must allege specific facts that, if proved, would establish that the plaintiff had a serious medical need and the defendant showed deliberate indifference to that need. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); see also McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1992), overruled on other grounds by WMX Technologies, Inc. v. Miller, 104 F.3d 1133 (9th Cir. 1997). To state an arguable Section 1983 claim for failure to provide medical care, a prisoner must allege that a defendant's "acts or omissions [were] sufficiently harmful to evidence a deliberate indifference to serious medical needs." Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106; Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1111 (9th Cir. 1986).

A serious medical need exists if failure to treat the condition could result in significant injury or the "unnecessary or wanton infliction of pain." Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104. To qualify as a deliberately indifferent response, the plaintiff must allege: (a) a purposeful act or failure to respond to a prisoner's pain or possible medical need, and (b) harm caused by the indifference. Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096.

A difference of opinion between medical professionals concerning the appropriate course of treatment generally does not amount to deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1058 (9th Cir. 2004); Sanchez v. Vild, 891 F.2d 240, 242 (9th Cir. 1989). Also, "a difference of opinion between a prisoner-patient and prison medical authorities regarding treatment does not give rise to a[§ ]1983 claim." Franklin v. Oregon, 662 F.2d 1337, 1344 (9th Cir. 1981). To establish that such a difference of opinion amounted to deliberate indifference, the prisoner "must show that the course of treatment the doctors chose was medically unacceptable under the circumstances" and "that they chose this course in conscious disregard of an excessive risk to [the prisoner's] health." See Jackson v. McIntosh, 90 F.3d 330, 332 (9th Cir. 1996). Mere indifference, ' ...


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