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Deliberate Indifference Suit Gets Mixed Ruling on Appeal

On November 24, 2008, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals delivered a mixed ruling in an appeal involving Washington state prisoner, Samuel D. Martin. The appeal arose following a district court's sua sponte dismissal of Martin's § 1983 claim against state employee, Damanjeet Chugh, alleging deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs.

Determining that a state is not a "person" and therefore may not be sued under §1983, the district court's dismissal of Martin's claim against the State of Washington was affirmed. However, the court reversed the dismissal of two defendants, finding Martin had stated a colorable Eighth Amendment claim against them because they allegedly ignored his requests for medical assistance. Therefore, the matter was remanded for further proceedings regarding those defendants. See: Martin v. Chugh, 301 Fed. Appx. 719 (9th Cir. 2008).

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Related legal case

Martin v. Chugh

SAMUEL D. MARTIN, Plaintiff - Appellant, v. DAMANJEET CHUGH; et al., Defendants - Appellees.

No. 07-35713


301 Fed. Appx. 719

November 24, 2008 ** , Submitted

** The panel unanimously finds this case suitable for decision without oral argument. See Fed. R. App. P. 34(a)(2).
November 26, 2008, Filed



* This disposition is not appropriate for publication and is not precedent except as provided by 9th Cir. R. 36-3.

Before: ALARCON, LEAVY and TALLMAN, Circuit Judges.

Samuel D. Martin, a Washington state prisoner, appeals pro se from the district court's order dismissing sua sponte pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b)(1) his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action alleging deliberate indifference to his medical needs. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We review de novo a district court's dismissal for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, [*720] Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000), and pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998) (order). We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

The [**2] district court properly dismissed Martin's claim against the State of Washington because a state is not a "person" amenable to suit under section 1983. See Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71, 109 S. Ct. 2304, 105 L. Ed. 2d 45 (1989).

Given the low threshold requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1915, Martin has stated a colorable Eighth Amendment claim against defendants Chugh and Smith. See Resnick, 213 F.3d at 447 (explaining that a court must liberally construe pro se pleadings, and accept as true all allegations of material fact); McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059-60 (9th Cir. 1992) (explaining that a defendant may be deliberately indifferent if he purposefully ignores or fails to respond to an injury that a reasonable doctor or patient would find important and worthy of comment or treatment), overruled on other grounds, WMX Techs., Inc. v. Miller, 104 F.3d 1133, 1136 (9th Cir. 1997); Hunt v. Dental Dep't, 865 F.2d 198, 201 (9th Cir. 1989) (concluding that a prisoner stated a claim for deliberate indifference where prison employee's delayed response to grievances caused prisoner to suffer unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain). Accordingly, we remand for further proceedings as to defendants Chugh [**3] and Smith.

AFFIRMED in part, REVERSED in part, and REMANDED.