Rodriguez v. Isaac et al
ORDER DISMISSING First Amended Complaint and GRANTING Leave to File Second Amended Complaint, signed by Magistrate Judge Michael J. Seng on 10/18/2011. Response Due Within Thirty (30) Days. (Attachments: # 1 1983 Amended Complaint Form) (Marrujo, C)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
9 NOEL RODRIGUEZ,
Case No. 1:09-cv-01784-AWI-MJS (PC)
ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED
COMPLAINT AND GRANTING LEAVE TO
FILE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT
12 ISAAC, et al.,
RESPONSE DUE WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS
On October 9, 2009, Plaintiff Noel Rodriguez, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in
forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1, Compl.) The
Complaint was dismissed on July 12, 2011 for failure to state a cognizable claim. (Doc. 21, O
Screen.) Plaintiff was granted leave to amend and filed the First Amended Complaint on August
1, 2011 (Doc. 22, 1st AC) which is before the Court for screening.
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 a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are
1 legally “frivolous, malicious,” or that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or
2 that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C.
3 § 1915A(b)(1),(2). “Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been
4 paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or
5 appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. §
Section 1983 “provides a cause of action for the ‘deprivation of any rights, privileges, or
8 immunities secured by the Constitution and laws’ of the United States.” Wilder v. Virginia
9 Hosp. Ass’n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Section 1983 is not itself a
10 source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights
11 conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989).
Plaintiff is currently housed at Ironwood State Prison (“ISP”), but complains of events
14 that occurred in Corcoran, California, both at Corcoran State Prison (“CSP”) and California
15 Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison (“SATF”). Plaintiff names Defendants
16 from each facility, to wit: CSP SHU Committee Counselor Isaac; SATF Warden Ken Clark;
17 SATF Gun-Tower Guards John Does 1-5; SATF Yard Prison Guards John Does 6-8; SATF Yard
18 Prison Sergeants John Does 9 and 10; SATF Yard Captain John Doe 11; SATF Yard Lieutenant
19 John Doe 12; SATF Appeals Coordinator, John Doe 13; and SATF Counselors Henne and
20 Hanson.2 Plaintiff seeks injunctive and punitive monetary relief.
Allegations at CSP
Plaintiff alleges that he was transferred to the Security Housing Unit (“SHU”) at CSP in
All references to pagination of specific documents pertain to those as indicated on the upper right corners
via the CM/ECF electronic court docketing system.
Plaintiff also alleges, “[a]s far as, John Doe(s), Facility Captain; J. Lawrence, Committee Member; [and]
S. Sherman, Committee Chairperson . . . [Plaintiff] retract[s his] claim against them for lack of facts. But [he]
reserve[s] the right to raise [his] complaints should new evidence arise.” (Doc. 22, at p. 19.) Plaintiff does not state
any factual allegations against these defendants and thus fails to link them to any cognizable claims. If Plaintiff feels
that new evidence justifies resurrecting his claims against these defendants, he will have to comply with all
requirements set forth in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Local Rules to amend his pleading.
1 March of 2008. (Doc. 22, 1st AC, p. 10.) On March 13, 2008, Plaintiff was evaluated for yard
2 placement and, due to a history of violent behavior and negative interactions with the “South
3 Siders” prison gang (“South Siders”), was offered protective custody yard. (Id., at pp. 10-11.)
4 Upon refusal, Plaintiff was placed in solitary confinement. (Id.) Five months later, in August of
5 2008, Plaintiff’s release to the yard was again considered and Plaintiff was advised that
6 protective custody yard would be safest for him since South Siders wanted to kill him. (Id.)
7 Plaintiff again declined protective custody yard and was kept in solitary confinement due to his
8 violent history and concomitant safety concerns. (Id.)
On August 6, 2008, Defendant Isaac met with Plaintiff and advised that she was
10 considering releasing him to the yard, but that it would be better for him to program in a
11 protective custody yard since South Siders wanted to kill him. (Id.) Plaintiff again refused
12 protective custody yard and when Defendant Isaac insisted, Plaintiff inquired whether he might
13 be placed in a yard separate from South Siders which Defendant Isaac indicated was “not
14 possible.” (Id.) The following day, Defendant Isaac and committee members released Plaintiff
15 to general population on a finding that security concerns no longer existed between Plaintiff and
16 South Siders. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that these actions by Defendant Isaac violated his rights
17 under the Eighth Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
18 (Id., at pp. 11-12.)
Allegations at SATF
In November of 2008, Plaintiff was transferred and arrived at SATF “S/P General
21 Population.” (Id., at p. 14.) On December 16, 2008, Plaintiff was cleared for general population.
On June 1, 2009, two South Siders attacked Plaintiff. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that it took
24 five months from his placement at SATF for South Siders to attack him due to the Mexican
25 Mafia hierarchy, the time it takes for a hit to be ordered and received via general mail, and the
26 fact that yard access at SATF was restricted for weeks on end due to repeated acts of violence.
27 (Id., at pp. 14-15.) It took more than five months for South Siders to receive their order to attack
28 Plaintiff and gain yard access to carry it out.
On the day Plaintiff was attacked, Does 6-9 were responsible for securing the yard and
2 declared it secure (i.e. devoid of weapons and/or contraband prior to release of inmates). (Id., at
3 p. 16.) Plaintiff and his attackers entered the yard at approximately 10:00 a.m. after submitting to
4 a strip search and passing through a metal detector. (Id., at pp. 16-17.)
Around noon, Plaintiff was attacked by two South Siders. (Id., at pp. 14, 17.) During the
6 30 second attack, Plaintiff was stabbed twelve times throughout his chest, arms, and head. (Id.,
7 at p. 17.) Does 6-9 sat and watched the attack take place and did nothing to stop it, waited until
8 the attackers ceased, and then handcuffed all three inmates. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges these actions
9 by Does 6-9 amounted to deliberate indifference in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Id.)
10 Likewise, though he heard the instruction to “get down” yelled approximately ten times, Plaintiff
11 alleges that Does 1-5 were deliberately indifferent in violation of the Eighth Amendment when
12 they failed to fire any shots to stop the attack. (Id., at p. 18.) Plaintiff further alleges that Does 9
13 and 10 violated the Eighth Amendment when they failed to order Does 1-8 to stop the attack.
14 (Id., at p. 19.) Plaintiff alleges that Does 11 and 12 failed to provide effective training prior to
15 the June 1st attack. (Id.)
On June 10, 2008, Plaintiff filed a complaint and served it on both Defendants Isaac and
17 Clark, but did not receive a response from either of them. (Id., at p. 20.) Plaintiff alleges that
18 Doe 13 failed to process his complaints to Defendants Isaac and Clark, thus violating his right of
19 access to the court under the First Amendment. (Id., at p. 21.)
In June of 2009, Plaintiff alleges that his property was misplaced or lost such that he was
21 unable to present evidence challenging his underlying criminal conviction. (Id., at p. 21.)
22 Plaintiff also alleges that he requested a review of his central and medical files which was not
23 responded to. (Id., at p. 22.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Correctional Counselors Henne
24 and Hanson refused to exhaust/respond to his complaints such that his rights under the Equal
25 Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment were violated.
Plaintiff may be able to amend to correct the deficiencies in his pleading so as to state
27 some cognizable claims. Thus, he is being given leave to file a second amended complaint based
28 on the applicable standards and rules discussed herein.
1. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)
“Rule 8(a)’s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited
4 exceptions,” none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534
5 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a). Pursuant to Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain “a
6 short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . .” Fed. R.
7 Civ. Pro. 8(a). “Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the
8 plaintiff’s claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512.
9 However, “the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff’s factual allegations.”
10 Neitze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). “[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights
11 complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled.” Bruns v.
12 Nat’l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents,
13 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). “Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that
14 may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . .
15 the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. §
16 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) (emphasis added).
Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of
18 a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
19 ___ U.S. ___, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
20 544, 555 (2007). Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a
21 claim that is plausible on its face.’” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949, quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
22 While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusion are not. Iqbal. at 1949; see also
23 Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009); Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949;
24 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556-557. “[P]laintiffs [now] face a higher burden of pleadings facts . . . ,”
25 Al-Kidd v. Ashcroft, 580 F.3d 949, 977 (9th Cir. 2009), and while a plaintiff’s allegations are
26 taken as true, courts “are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences,” Doe I v. Wal-Mart
27 Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
If he chooses to file a second amended complaint, Plaintiff should endeavor to make it as
1 concise as possible. He should merely state which of his constitutional rights he feels were
2 violated by a given Defendant and the factual basis.
2. Linkage Requirement
The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides:
Every person who, under color of [state law] . . . subjects, or causes
to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the
deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution . . . shall be liable to the party injured in an action at
law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.
8 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The statute plainly requires that there be an actual connection or link between
9 the actions of the defendants and the deprivation alleged to have been suffered by Plaintiff. See
10 Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362
11 (1976). The Ninth Circuit has held that “[a] person ‘subjects’ another to the deprivation of a
12 constitutional right, within the meaning of section 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates
13 in another’s affirmative acts or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that
14 causes the deprivation of which complaint is made.” Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th
15 Cir. 1978).
Plaintiff fails to link Defendants Warden Clark, Lawrence, and/or Sherman to any of his
17 allegations such that they are properly dismissed. In order to state a claim for relief under section
18 1983, Plaintiff must link each named defendant with some affirmative act or omission that
19 demonstrates a violation of Plaintiff’s federal rights to put each Defendant on notice of Plaintiff’s
20 claims against him or her. See Austin v. Terhune, 367 F.3d 1167, 1171 (9th Cir. 2004).
3. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 18(a)
Fed.R.Civ.P. 18(a) states that “[a] party asserting a claim to relief as an original claim,
23 counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim, may join, either as independent or as alternate
24 claims, as many claims, legal, equitable, or maritime, as the party has against an opposing party.”
25 “Thus multiple claims against a single party are fine, but Claim A against Defendant 1 should not
26 be joined with unrelated Claim B against Defendant 2. Unrelated claims against different
27 defendants belong in different suits, not only to prevent the sort of morass [a multiple claim,
28 multiple defendant] suit produce[s], but also to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees-6-
1 for the Prison Litigation Reform Act limits to 3 the number of frivolous suits or appeals that any
2 prisoner may file without prepayment of the required fees. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).” George v.
3 Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007).
The fact that claims are premised on the same type of constitutional violation(s) (i.e.
5 deliberate indifference) against multiple defendants does not make them factually related.
6 Claims are related where they are based on the same precipitating event, or a series of related
7 events caused by the same precipitating event.
The First Amended Complaint violates Rule 18 as it contains a number of claims that are
9 not related. It appears that three groupings of unrelated claims can be made from Plaintiff’s
10 allegations: (1) Equal Protection and Eighth Amendment claims against Defendant Isaac at CSP;
11 (2) Eighth Amendment and First Amendment claims against Defendants Does 1-13 at SATF; and
12 (3) Equal Protection and Fourteenth Amendment claims against Defendants Henne and Hanson
13 at SATF.3 The Court has reviewed, and herein address, all of Plaintiff’s claims in the First
14 Amended Complaint, though unrelated, so that Plaintiff might choose which claim(s) he feels
15 will be most successful to pursue in this action, if at all, and whether to pursue unrelated claims
16 in different actions.4
Plaintiff must file separate pleadings/complaints for each unrelated claim against different
18 defendants at different facilities. Plaintiff is advised that if he chooses to file a second amended
19 complaint, and fails to comply with Rule 18(a), all unrelated claims will be subject to dismissal.
Claims against prison personnel at different facilities are generally unrelated and Plaintiff alleges no basis
to reasonably infer that the actions of the guards and prison personnel at SATF during and after the June 2009 attack
were related to Defendant Isaac’s involvement in March of 2008 at CSP. Plaintiff is not granted leave to amend to
show relation between these claims as an argument by Plaintiff that the lifting of his indeterminate SHU term at CSP
caused him to be subjected to deliberate indifference by the prison personnel at SATF when attacked in the general
population yard at SATF as such a claim is not facially plausible. As evidenced by Plaintiff’s allegations, each
facility conducts its own review and/or investigation to determine housing and yard placement of inmates. (Doc. 22,
1st A.C., pp. 12, 14, 36, 45.) Further, a decision regarding lifting an indeterminate SHU term at one facility has
nothing to do with how the guards of the general population yard react when an inmate is being attacked at another
Plaintiff is reminded that filing an action based on claims that are not cognizable and/or frivolous may
adversely affect his ability to file actions in forma pauperis in the future. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
Plaintiff seeks both punitive damages and injunctive relief. (Doc. 22, 1st A.C., p. 23.)
Punitive damages are available under § 1983, see Pac. Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Haslip, 499
5 U.S. 1, 17 (1991), and are available even when a plaintiff is unable to show compensable injury
6 see Smith v. Wade, 461 U.S. 30, 55, n. 21 (1983). Moreover, punitive damages may be the only
7 significant remedy available in some actions under § 1983 where constitutional rights are
8 maliciously violated but the victim cannot prove compensable injury. See Smith v. Wade, 461
9 U.S. 30, 55 (1983). However, punitive damages are not available against municipalities, see
10 Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 167, n. 13; nor are they available against state officials sued
11 in their official capacities, see Mitchell v. Dupnik, 75 F.3d 517, 527 (9th Cir. 1996). Awards of
12 punitive damages are left to the jury’s discretion upon a finding that the defendant either acted
13 with an evil motive or with reckless/callous indifference to the plaintiff’s federally protected
14 rights. See Smith, 461 U.S. at 54, 56; Dang v. Cross, 422 F.3d 800, 807-09 (9th Cir. 2005).
15 Accordingly, all of Plaintiff’s claims for punitive damages against the named defendants in their
16 official capacities are dismissed and not subject to amendment.
In addition to monetary damages, Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief. Where a prisoner
19 challenges conditions of confinement and seeks injunctive relief, transfer to another prison
20 renders the request for injunctive relief moot absent some evidence5 of an expectation of being
21 transferred back. See Preiser v. Newkirk, 422 U.S. 395, 402-03 (1975); Johnson v. Moore, 948
22 F.2d 517, 519 (9th Cir. 1991) (per curiam); see also Andrews v. Cervantes, 493 F.3d 1047, 1053,
23 n.5 (9th Cir. 2007). Accordingly, subsequent transfers, such that he is not currently housed
24 / / /
Mere allegations that a Plaintiff might be transferred back to the offending facility, or that such is always a
possibility, are remote and speculative and insufficient to cast the “continuing and brooding presence” required to
grant injunctive relief. See Preiser, 422 U.S. at 403.
1 at either CSP or SATF,6 rendered Plaintiff’s claims for injunctive relief moot such that they are
2 dismissed and not subject to amendment.
Eighth Amendment – Failure to Protect
“The treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which he is
6 confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S.
7 825, 832 (1994) (citing Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993)). Prison officials have a
8 duty to take reasonable steps to protect inmates from physical abuse. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 833;
9 Hoptowit v. Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1250-51 (9th Cir. 1982). To establish a violation of this duty,
10 the prisoner must establish that prison officials were “deliberately indifferent to a serious threat
11 to the inmates’s safety.” Farmer, at 834. The question under the Eighth Amendment is whether
12 prison officials, acting with deliberate indifference, exposed a prisoner to a sufficiently
13 substantial ‘risk of serious damage to his future health . . . .’” Id., at 843 (citing Helling, 509
14 U.S. at 35). The Supreme Court has explained that “deliberate indifference entails something
15 more than mere negligence . . . [but] something less than acts or omissions for the very purpose
16 of causing harm or with the knowledge that harm will result.” Id., at 835. The Court defined this
17 “deliberate indifference” standard as equal to “recklessness,” in which “a person disregards a risk
18 of harm of which he is aware.” Id., at 836-37.
The deliberate indifference standard involves both an objective and a subjective prong.
20 First, the alleged deprivation must be, in objective terms, “sufficiently serious.” Id. at 834.
21 Second, subjectively, the prison official must “know of and disregard an excessive risk to inmate
22 health or safety.” Id. at 837; Anderson v. County of Kern, 45 F.3d 1310, 1313 (9th Cir. 1995).
23 To prove knowledge of the risk, however, the prisoner may rely on circumstantial evidence; in
24 fact, the very obviousness of the risk may be sufficient to establish knowledge. Id., at 842;
25 Wallis v. Baldwin, 70 F.3d 1074, 1077 (9th Cir. 1995).
Plaintiff is currently housed at ISP.
The Supreme Court has stated that a remedy for unsafe conditions need not await a tragic
2 event. Where a risk/injury has yet to occur, the plaintiff’s burden is to show that his future
3 health/safety is unreasonably endangered, “that it is contrary to current standards of decency for
4 anyone to be so exposed against his will, and that prison officials are deliberately indifferent to
5 his plight.” Helling, 509 U.S. at 33-35.
Claims Against Defendant Isaac
To begin with, Plaintiff alleges that prior to his release into the general population yard,
8 Defendant Isaac twice offered him placement on the protective custody yard – which Plaintiff
9 refused. (Doc. 22, 1st A.C., pp. 10-11.) The offers to place Plaintiff on the protective custody
10 yard indicate that Defendant Isaac was not deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff’s situation with
11 South Siders. Rather, it appears that Plaintiff’s refusal to “program with child molesters and
12 rapists in a protective custody yard” played at least a minor roll in his ultimate placement on the
13 general population yard. (Id., at pp. 11-12.) Further, Plaintiff’s evidence shows in his own
14 handwriting that he “chose to program with the Southern Hispanics [South Siders]” when he was
15 given the choice between that and protective custody. (Id., at pp. 52-53, 86-87.)
Also, even though Plaintiff alleges he was endorsed for general population yard at CSP,
17 his exhibits actually show that though he was cleared for yard at a Level IV, 180 facility while at
18 CSP (a 270 facility), he was retained in CSP’s ASU pending transfer because his release into
19 general population “may present an immediate threat to the safety and security of self/others as
20 well as the security of the institution.” (Id., at pp. 13, 38.) Being a member of the committee that
21 elected to retain Plaintiff in ASU pending transfer due to safety/security concerns does not equate
22 to deliberate indifference by Defendant Isaac. The exhibits also show that Plaintiff was present
23 at the hearing where his SHU placement was reviewed, agreed with the committee’s decision,
24 and stated that he did not have safety concerns. (Id., at p. 38.) Defendant Isaac’s actions on the
25 committee cannot be said to have been deliberately indifferent to a serious risk to Plaintiff’s
26 safety when Plaintiff both agreed with the committee’s decision and stated that he did not have
27 safety concerns.
Both Plaintiff’s allegations and exhibits show that four people were on the committee that
2 reviewed and lifted Plaintiff’s indeterminate SHU term (id., at pp. 12, 38) and that all placement
3 decisions were made by such a committee (see e.g., id., at pp. 36, 38, 43, 45). Plaintiff does not
4 address how, out of a four person committee, Defendant Isaac would have any greater than one5 quarter of the decision making authority so as to make his change in yard placement attributable
6 solely to Defendant Isaac. Nor does Plaintiff show how Defendant Isaac’s vote on the four7 person committee carried any greater weight than the votes of the other committee members.
Additionally, even if Plaintiff could show that Defendant Isaac acted with deliberate
9 indifference in her role regarding his release from the SHU, Plaintiff’s allegations show that the
10 actions complained of neither caused him actual injury, nor caused his future health/safety to be
11 unreasonably endangered. Plaintiff’s allegations show that he was attacked by South Siders on
12 the SATF general population yard on June 1, 2009 (id., at p. 17), which was: (1) roughly ten
13 months after Defendant Isaac and the committee at CSP recommended his indeterminate SHU
14 status be lifted and Plaintiff be held in ASU pending transfer to a Level IV, 180 facility; (2)
15 approximately seven months after he was transferred out of CSP to SATF (id., at pp. 11, 14); and
16 (3) approximately five and a half months after the committee at SATF cleared him for the general
17 population yard (id., at p. 45). The fact that the attack took place on the general population yard
18 at a different facility coupled with the ten months lapse of time between the allegations against
19 Defendant Isaac and the attack on Plaintiff at a different facility (SATF) make Defendant Isaac’s
20 involvement too attenuated to have caused Plaintiff’s alleged injury – particularly given the
21 intervening release of Plaintiff to the general population yard by the placement committee at
22 SATF which Plaintiff stated he agreed with. (Id.)
Plaintiff alleges that “it took five months for South Siders to attack” him because the
24 Mexican Mafia is housed in Pelican Bay and CSP and they relay their orders to South Siders via
25 U.S. Mail which is delayed by inspection/decoding by prison officials. (Id., at pp. 14-15.)
26 However, this explanation does not suffice to make the attack at SATF Defendant Isaac’s
27 liability. While Plaintiff was attacked by South Siders a little over five months after he was
1 placed in the SATF general population yard, it occurred approximately ten months subsequent to
2 Defendant Isaac’s actions at a different facility. This lapse of time and change in facility is
3 simply too far removed from Defendant Isaac’s actions at CSP to connect or link Defendant Isaac
4 to the attack at SATF on June 1st. See Monell, 436 U.S. 658; Rizzo, 423 U.S. 362.
Further, Plaintiff’s allegations do not show, and cannot honestly be amended to show,
6 that his future health/safety at ISP7 is unreasonably endangered as a result of Defendant Isaac’s
7 involvement in Plaintiff’s placement in the general population yard at CSP – particularly since
8 Plaintiff was subsequently returned to ASU. (Doc. 22, 1st AC, p. 47.)
Accordingly, Plaintiff fails to state a cognizable deliberate indifference claim against
10 Defendant Isaac. Even if he did, Defendant Isaac is not sufficiently linked to the injuries Plaintiff
11 sustained when he was attacked on the SATF general population yard.8
Claims Against Does 1-10
Plaintiff alleges that, on the date he was attacked, Does 6-9 were responsible for securing
14 the yard and declaring it secure (i.e. devoid of weapons and/or contraband prior to release of
15 inmates). (Id., at pp. 16-17.) Plaintiff also alleges that Does 6-9 sat and watched the attack take
16 place and did nothing to stop it, waiting until the attackers ceased, and then handcuffing all three
17 inmates. (Id., at p. 17.) Plaintiff alleges these actions by Does 6-9 amounted to deliberate
18 indifference in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Id.) Likewise, though he heard the
19 instruction to “get down” yelled approximately ten times, Plaintiff alleges that Does 1-5 were
20 deliberately indifferent in violation of the Eighth Amendment when they failed to fire any shots
21 to stop the attack (id., at p. 18) and that Does 9 and 10 violated the Eighth Amendment when
22 they failed to order Does 1-8 to stop the attack (id., at p. 19).
These allegations would normally state cognizable Eighth Amendment claims against
24 Does 1-10 for failing to act to stop the attack in which he was repeatedly stabbed by two South
Plaintiff is no longer housed at either CSP or SATF; rather he is currently housed at ISP.
If Plaintiff were able to state a cognizable claim against Defendant Isaac, as discussed above, he would
only be able to pursue punitive damages against her in her individual capacity.
1 Sider inmates in their view. However, Plaintiff attached a copy of a declaration he filed in
2 California Superior Court as Exhibit R-18 to the First Amended Complaint. (Id., at pp. 77-91.)
3 In that declaration, Plaintiff describes the attack and states “[t]he cops break it up and they
4 handcuff us all and airlift [Plaintiff] to Fresno County Community Medical Center.” (Id., at p.
5 90, ¶ 74.) This statement in his declaration conflicts with Plaintiff’s allegations that Does 6-9 did
6 nothing to stop the attack and waited for it to stop before they handcuffed all three inmates. (Id.,
7 at p. 17.) It appears that Plaintiff has violated Rule 11 via submitting these two contradicting
8 statements – the correctional officers could not both have waited until the attack was over and
9 broken it up. Accordingly, if Plaintiff attempts to amend to pursue these claims he is ordered to
10 cogently explain this inconsistency or this action will be striken from the record as a sanction for
11 Plaintiff’s lack of candor to the Court. Thus, Plaintiff is not allowed to proceed on his claims of
12 deliberate indifference against Does 1-10 and will not be allowed to do so unless he provides
13 sufficient explanation as to the contradictions between the allegations of the First Amended
14 Complaint and exhibits attached thereto.
Fourteenth Amendment – Equal Protection
The Equal Protection Clause requires that persons who are similarly situated be treated
17 alike. City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center, Inc., 473 U.S. 432, 439 (1985). An equal
18 protection claim may be established in two ways. First, a plaintiff establishes an equal
19 protection claim by showing that the defendant has intentionally discriminated on the basis of the
20 plaintiff’s membership in a protected class. See e.g., Comm. Concerning Cmty. Improvement v.
21 City of Modesto, 583 F.3d 690, 702-03 (9th Cir. 2009); Serrano v. Francis, 345 F.3d 1071, 1082
22 (9th Cir. 2003), Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 686 (9th Cir. 2001). Under this theory
23 of equal protection, the plaintiff must show that the defendants’ actions were a result of the
24 plaintiff’s membership in a suspect class, such as race. Thornton v. City of St. Helens, 425 F.3d
25 1158, 1167 (9th Cir. 2005).
If the action in question does not involve a suspect classification, a plaintiff may establish
27 an equal protection claim by showing that similarly situated individuals were intentionally treated
1 differently without a rational relationship to a legitimate state purpose. Engquist v. Oregon
2 Department of Agriculture, 553 U.S. 591, 601-02, 128 S.Ct. 2146 (2008); Village of
3 Willowbrook v. Olech, 528 U.S. 562, 564, 120 S.Ct. 1073 (2000) (coining the term “class of
4 one”); Gonzalez-Medina v. Holder, 641 F.3d 333, 336 (9th Cir. 2011); Lazy Y Ranch Ltd. v.
5 Behrens, 546 F.3d 580, 592 (9th Cir. 2008); North Pacifica LLC v. City of Pacifica, 526 F.3d
6 478, 486 (9th Cir. 2008). To state a claim as a class of one, a plaintiff must articulate who he is
7 similarly situated to and how they are similar in order for disparate treatment to equate to a
8 violation of his rights to equal protection. See McCollum v. California Dept. Of Corrections and
9 Rehabilitation, 647 F.3d 870, 880-81 (9th Cir. 2011), citing Flores v. Morgan Hill Unified Sch.
10 Dist., 324 F.3d 1130, 1134 (9th Cir. 2003).
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Isaac’s involvement in clearing him for the general
12 population yard while knowing that South Siders wanted to kill him violated his rights under the
13 Equal Protection Clause. (Doc. 22, 1st A.C., at pp. 11-12.)
Plaintiff also alleges that in June of 2009, his property was misplaced or lost such that he
15 was unable to present evidence challenging his underlying criminal conviction (Doc. 22, 1st
16 A.C., at p. 21); that he requested a review of his central and medical files which was not
17 responded to (id., at p. 22); and that Defendants Correctional Counselors Henne and Hanson
18 refused to exhaust/respond to his complaints such that his rights under the Equal Protection
19 Clause were violated (id.).
Plaintiffs allegations do not show that he was a member of a protected class so as to state
21 a cognizable traditional, discriminatory equal protection claim against Defendant Isaac, Henne,
22 and/or Hanson. Plaintiff’s allegations against Defendants Henne and Hanson also do not show
23 that they treated him any differently from other similarly situated individuals. However, it
24 appears that Plaintiff is attempting to state an equal protection claim against Defendant Isaac by
25 claiming to have received disparate treatment from others similarly situated -- i.e. that he
26 qualifies as a class of one.
Plaintiff’s first such allegations state that “[t]here are hundreds of inmates who have
1 security concerns with prison gangs, and those inmates chose to refuse to program in protective
2 custody yards, and due to that refusal, those inmates are kept in solitary confinement for their
3 safety.” (Id., at p. 12.) Plaintiff alleges that his equal protection rights were violated because he
4 was not afforded the same protection as other inmates since Defendant Isaac and the committee
5 did not keep him in solitary confinement. (Id.) Simply alleging that there are lots of inmates
6 with security concerns with prison gangs does not equate to a showing that Plaintiff was similarly
7 situated to those inmates with security concerns with prison gangs who were allowed to remain
8 in solitary confinement so as to qualify as a class of one. Further, even if Plaintiff was similarly
9 situated to other inmates with security concerns regarding prison gangs, he did not receive
10 disparate treatment since he was retained in ASU at CSP pending transfer. (Id., at p. 13.)
Plaintiff also alleges that “Fresno Bulldogs have violent problems with South Siders as
12 well, and prison officials keep them separated in general population on separate yards. So prison
13 officials discriminated against [him] violating [his] equal protection rights, 14th Amendment
14 [sic] to receive equal treatment as other general population inmates by forcing [him] to program
15 with South Siders and not seperating [sic] [him].” (Id., at p. 14.) Here again, Plaintiff does not
16 state enough factual basis to show that he was similarly situated to Fresno Bulldogs to qualify as
17 a class of one. Plaintiff does not state any similarities between himself and Fresno Bulldogs
18 other than that both have/had violent problems with South Siders (i.e. other common enemies,
19 common amicable inmate groups, national origin, other security concerns, or lack thereof, etc.).
20 The fact that Plaintiff did not ask to be given general population yard time with Fresno Bulldogs
21 also speaks volumes. Defendant Isaac’s response that it was not possible for Plaintiff to be
22 placed on a general population yard separate from South Siders implies that additional factors,
23 beyond Plaintiff’s incompatibility with South Siders, were involved in placement decisions. In
24 fact, the declaration Plaintiff submitted to the California Superior Court makes it readily apparent
25 that Plaintiff was, at the very least, affiliated with South Siders, if not an actual member of that
1 prison gang.9 (Id., at pp. 77-91.) Plaintiff’s affiliation with or membership as a South Sider and
2 his violent interactions therein do not equate to membership in a wholly different prison gang.
3 Plaintiff’s allegations that Fresno Bulldogs receive general population yard time separate from
4 South Siders does not qualify Plaintiff as a class of one for equal protection purposes.
Accordingly, Plaintiff fails to state a cognizable equal protection claim against
6 Defendants Isaac, Henne, and/or Hanson.
First Amendment – Access to Courts
Plaintiff alleges that, on June 10, 2008, he filed a complaint and served it on both
9 Defendants Isaac and Clark, but did not receive a response from either of them. (Doc. 22, 1st
10 A.C., at p. 20.) Likewise, Plaintiff alleges that Doe 13 failed to process his complaints to
11 Defendants Isaac and Clark. (Id., at p. 21.) Plaintiff alleges that Doe 13 hampered his ability to
12 exhaust his administrative remedies which violated his right of access to the court under the First
Inmates have a fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts. Lewis v. Casey,
15 518 U.S. 343, 346 (1996). The right is limited to direct criminal appeals, habeas petitions, and
16 civil rights actions. Id. at 354. Claims for denial of access to the courts may arise from the
17 frustration or hindrance of “a litigating opportunity yet to be gained” (forward-looking access
18 claim) or from the loss of a meritorious suit that cannot now be tried (backward-looking claim).
19 Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403, 412-15 (2002). To prevail on a claim, a plaintiff must
20 show that he suffered an actual injury by being shut out of court. Id. at 415; Lewis, 518 U.S. at
Although claims must be exhausted via the inmate appeals process, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a),
23 failure to exhaust is an affirmative defense, not a pleading requirement. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S.
24 199, 216 (2007). Further, “[a prison] grievance procedure is a procedural right only, it does not
25 confer any substantive right upon the inmates.” Azeez v. DeRobertis, 568 F. Supp. 8, 10 (N.D.
This is a key piece of information which Plaintiff omitted, or failed to explain in his allegations which
once again calls the truthfulness of his pleadings into question.
1 Ill. 1982) accord Buckley v. Barlow, 997 F.2d 494, 495 (8th Cir. 1993); see also Ramirez v.
2 Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 860 (9th Cir. 2003) (no liberty interest in processing of appeals because no
3 entitlement to a specific grievance procedure); Massey v. Helman, 259 F.3d 641, 647 (7th Cir.
4 2001) (existence of grievance procedure confers no liberty interest on prisoner); Mann v. Adams,
5 855 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1988). “Hence, it does not give rise to a protected liberty interest
6 requiring the procedural protections envisioned by the Fourteenth Amendment.” Azeez v.
7 DeRobertis, 568 F. Supp. at 10; Spencer v. Moore, 638 F. Supp. 315, 316 (E.D. Mo. 1986).
8 Actions in reviewing a prisoner’s administrative appeal cannot serve as the basis for liability
9 under a § 1983 action. Buckley, 997 F.2d at 495.
Plaintiff’s allegations do not state a cognizable claim against Doe 13 for interfering with
11 Plaintiff’s access to the courts in violation of the First Amendment as Plaintiff has not alleged the
12 existence of any actual injury to litigation. Further, since he does not have a liberty interest, or a
13 substantive right in inmate appeals, and there is no pleading requirement to show exhaustion,
14 Plaintiff fails, and is unable to state a cognizable claim for the processing and/or reviewing of his
15 inmate appeals.
Plaintiff’s allegations against Doe 13 for the handling of his inmate appeals so as to
17 prevent Plaintiff from exhausting his administrative remedies do not, and cannot be amended to,
18 state a cognizable claim.
Failure to Train
Plaintiff alleges that Does 11 and 12 failed to provide effective training prior to the June
21 1st attack. (Doc. 22, 1st A.C., at p. 19.)
Plaintiff’s allegations do not show a deficient training program “intended to apply over
23 time to multiple employees;” continued adherence by policymaking defendants “to an approach
24 that they know or should know has failed to prevent tortious conduct by employees;” “the
25 existence of a pattern of tortious conduct by inadequately trained employees [which tends] to
26 show that the lack of proper training, rather than a one-time negligent administration of the
27 program or factors peculiar to the officer involved in a particular incident, is the ‘moving force’
1 behind the plaintiff's injury;” or “a violation of federal rights [as] a highly predictable
2 consequence of a failure to equip law enforcement officers with specific tools to handle recurring
3 situations.” Board of County Commissioners v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 407-09 (1997). Further,
4 claims for inadequate training have been found cognizable when stated against municipalities.
5 See Board of County Commissioners v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397 (1997); Long v. County of Los
6 Angeles 442 F.3d 1178, 1186 (9th Cir. 2006) ref. City of Canton, Ohio v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378,
7 388 (1989). Plaintiff does not name a municipality as a defendant in this action. Plaintiff fails,
8 and is unable to state a cognizable claim against individual defendants based on a single
It appears that Plaintiff has named Warden Clark as a defendant in this action purely
12 because of his position of authority. However, supervisory personnel are generally not liable
13 under section 1983 for the actions of their employees under a theory of respondeat superior and,
14 therefore, when a named defendant holds a supervisory position, the causal link between him and
15 the claimed constitutional violation must be specifically alleged. See Fayle v. Stapley, 607 F.2d
16 858, 862 (9th Cir. 1979); Mosher v. Saalfeld, 589 F.2d 438, 441 (9th Cir. 1978), cert. denied,
17 442 U.S. 941 (1979). To state a claim for relief under section 1983 based on a theory of
18 supervisory liability, Plaintiff must allege some facts that would support a claim that supervisory
19 defendants either: personally participated in the alleged deprivation of constitutional rights; knew
20 of the violations and failed to act to prevent them; or promulgated or “implemented a policy so
21 deficient that the policy ‘itself is a repudiation of constitutional rights’ and is ‘the moving force
22 of the constitutional violation.’” Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 646 (9th Cir. 1989) (internal
23 citations omitted); Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989).
Under section 1983, liability may not be imposed on supervisory personnel for the actions
25 of their employees under a theory of respondeat superior. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, --- U.S. ---, 129
26 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). “In a §1983 suit or a Bivens action - where masters do not answer for
27 the torts of their servants - the term ‘supervisory liability’ is a misnomer.” Id. In a claim
1 requiring discriminatory intent, knowledge and acquiescence of a subordinate’s misconduct is
2 insufficient to establish liability; each government official is only liable for his or her own
3 misconduct. Id. As previously noted, Defendant Clark is properly dismissed as Plaintiff fails to
4 link him to any factual allegations. Even so, Defendant Clark would only be liable if he
5 personally participated in the offensive conduct, had knowledge and failed to take preventative
6 action, or initiated/implemented a policy that caused the violation – none of which can be even
7 remotely inferred from Plaintiff’s allegations.
CONCLUSION and ORDER
Plaintiff is granted leave to file a second amended complaint curing the deficiencies
10 identified by the Court in this order. Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448-49 (9th Cir. 1987).
11 Plaintiff may not change the nature of this suit by adding new, unrelated claims in his second
12 amended complaint. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007) (no “buckshot”
If Plaintiff files a second amended complaint, it should be brief, Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a), but
15 must state what each named defendant did that led to the deprivation of Plaintiff’s constitutional
16 or other federal rights, Hydrick, 500 F.3d at 987-88. Although accepted as true, the “[f]actual
17 allegations must be [sufficient] to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . .” Bell
18 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007) (citations omitted).
Finally, Plaintiff is advised that a second amended complaint will supercede all
20 previously filed pleadings, Forsyth v. Humana, Inc., 114 F.3d 1467, 1474 (9th Cir. 1997); King
21 v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987), and must be “complete in itself without reference to
22 the prior or superceded pleading,” Local Rule 15-220. Plaintiff is warned that “[a]ll causes of
23 action alleged in an original complaint which are not alleged in an amended complaint are
24 waived.” King, 814 F.2d at 567 (citing London v. Coopers & Lybrand, 644 F.2d 811, 814 (9th
25 Cir. 1981)); accord Forsyth, 114 F.3d at 1474.
Plaintiff is reminded of his duty to comply with Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil
27 Procedure. If Plaintiff needs an extension of time to comply with this order, he shall file a
1 request for an extension of time no later than thirty (30) days from the date of service of this
Based on the foregoing, it is HEREBY ORDERED that:
The Clerk’s Office shall send Plaintiff a civil rights complaint form;
Within thirty (30) days from the date of service of this order, Plaintiff must file a
second amended complaint curing the deficiencies identified by the Court in this
If Plaintiff fails to comply with this order, this action will be dismissed for failure
to obey a court order.
11 IT IS SO ORDERED.
October 18, 2011
Michael J. Seng
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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