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Woods v. Hatakeyama

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

April 3, 2018

WILLIAM D. M. WOODS, #A0264228, Plaintiff,
v.
DEANE HATAKEYAMA, M.D., Defendant.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

          DERRICK K. WATSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the court is pro se Plaintiff William Woods' prisoner civil rights Complaint. ECF No. 1. Woods is incarcerated at the Halawa Correctional Facility (“HCF”) and is proceeding in forma pauperis. ECF No. 5. Woods claims that Defendant Deane Hatakeyama, M.D., violated the Eighth Amendment when he allegedly denied Woods adequate health care. For the following reasons, Woods' Complaint is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A(a) for failure to state a claim, albeit with leave to amend.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Woods was diagnosed with Ideopathic Pulmonary Atrial Hypertension-Vasoreactive, Functional Class II, in August 2013. Woods says that he had been prescribed a specific dosage of medication for pulmonary hypertension since that time. Woods has been a patient of The Queen's Medical Center (“QMC”) Pulmonary Hypertension Program under the care of pulmonary hypertension specialist Dr. Chris Flack since at least January 10, 2014. Woods says this information should have been available in his prison institutional records.

         Dr. Hatakeyama met with Woods on or about November 28, 2016, during Woods' medical intake assessment at HCF. Woods authorized QMC to release his medical records that day, which were faxed to HCF on or about December 7, 2016. Woods complains that Dr. Hatakeyama lowered the dosage of his medication and refused to increase it until the HCF Medical Director reviewed his complaint. Woods alleges this change in medication damaged his heart and increased his hypertension. He seeks lifetime medical treatment and punitive damages.

         II. SCREENING

         Federal courts must conduct a pre-answer screening in all cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity, officer, or employee, or seek to proceed without prepayment of the civil filing fees. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b). The court must identify cognizable claims and dismiss those claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. at §§ 1915(b)(2) and 1915A(b). “The purpose of [screening] is ‘to ensure that the targets of frivolous or malicious suits need not bear the expense of responding.'” Nordstrom v. Ryan, 762 F.3d 903, 920 n.1 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Wheeler v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., 689 F.3d 680, 681 (7th Cir. 2012)).

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). A plaintiff must “set forth specific facts as to each individual defendant's” deprivation of his rights. Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988); see also Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). That is, a plaintiff must demonstrate each defendant's personal participation in the deprivation of his rights. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676-77; Simmons v. Navajo Cty., 609 F.3d 1011, 1020-21 (9th Cir. 2010).

         Pro se prisoners' pleadings must be liberally construed and given the benefit of any doubt. Blaisdell v. Frappiea, 729 F.3d 1237, 1241 (9th Cir. 2013); Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). However, “the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). “[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled.” Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)). A plaintiff must identify specific facts supporting the existence of substantively plausible claims for relief. Johnson v. City of Shelby, 135 S.Ct. 346, 347 (2014) (per curiam) (citation omitted). Leave to amend should be granted if it appears possible that the plaintiff can correct the complaint's defects. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000).

         III. DISCUSSION

         “To sustain an action under section 1983, a plaintiff must show ‘(1) that the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of state law; and (2) that the conduct deprived the plaintiff of a federal constitutional or statutory right.'” Hydrick v. Hunter, 500 F.3d 978, 987 (9th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted), vacated and remanded on other grounds, 556 U.S. 1256 (2009); see also West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         A. Eleventh Amendment

         Woods names Dr. Hatakeyama in his individual and official capacities. “The Eleventh Amendment bars suits for money damages in federal court against a state, its agencies, and state officials acting in their official capacities.” Aholelei v. Dep't of Pub. Safety, 488 F.3d 1144, 1147 (9th Cir. 2007). Defendants named in their official capacities are subject to suit under § 1983 only “for prospective declaratory and injunctive relief . . . to enjoin an alleged ongoing violation of federal law.” Oyama v. Univ. of Haw., 2013 WL 1767710, at *7 (D. Haw. Apr. 23, 2013) (quoting Wilbur v. Locke, 423 F.3d 1101, 1111 (9th Cir. 2005), abrogated on other grounds by Levin v. Commerce Energy Inc., 560 U.S. 413 (2010)); see also Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 70-71 (1989) (“[A] suit against a state official in his or her official capacity is not a suit against the official but rather is a suit against the official's office.”); Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908).

         Because Woods does not allege an ongoing violation of federal law, there is no basis for his seeking prospective injunctive relief. Claims against Dr. ...


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