Johnson v. Pleasant Valley State Prison et al

Filing 11

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND, For Failure to State a Claim, signed by Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe on 2/16/2012. Amended Complaint Due Within Thirty Days. (Attachments: # 1 Amended Complaint Form)(Marrujo, C)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 8 LEONARD JOHNSON, CASE NO. 1:11-cv–00191-LJO-BAM PC 9 Plaintiff, ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND, FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM 10 v. 11 12 PLEASANT VALLEY STATE PRISON, et al., (ECF No. 1) THIRTY-DAY DEADLINE 13 Defendants. / 14 15 I. Screening Requirement 16 Plaintiff Leonard Johnson is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this 17 civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently before the Court is the complaint filed 18 February 3, 2011. (ECF No. 1.) 19 The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a 20 governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The 21 Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally 22 “frivolous or malicious,” that “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted,” or that “seeks 23 monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). 24 In determining whether a complaint states a claim, the Court looks to the pleading standard 25 under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Under Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain “a short and 26 plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). 27 “[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require ‘detailed factual allegations,’ but it 28 demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. 1 1 Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 2 544, 555, 127 S. Ct. 1955 (2007)). 3 Under section 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated 4 in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). This requires 5 the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 6 at 1949-50; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). “[A] complaint [that] 7 pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with’ a defendant’s liability . . . ‘stops short of the line 8 between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.’” Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (quoting 9 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Further, although a court must accept as true all factual allegations 10 contained in a complaint, a court need not accept a plaintiff’s legal conclusions as true. Iqbal, 129 11 S. Ct. at 1949. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere 12 conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). 13 II. Discussion 14 Plaintiff brings this action against Defendants Pleasant Valley State Prison (“PVSP”), 15 California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”), James Yates, and H. Martinez, 16 in their individual and official capacities, alleging violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth 17 Amendments. Plaintiff states that he has been involuntarily confined at PVSP and has been 18 examined and given medication for Valley Fever. Plaintiff claims that every day he remains at PVSP 19 jeopardizes his health and life. Plaintiff requests monetary damages and injunctive relief directing 20 that he be transferred to a “Valley Fever Free” institution. 21 For the reasons set forth below Plaintiff has failed to state a cognizable claim for relief. 22 Plaintiff shall be given the opportunity to file an amended complaint curing the deficiencies 23 described by the Court in this order. In the paragraphs that follow, the Court will provide Plaintiff 24 with the legal standards that appear to apply to his claims. Plaintiff should carefully review the 25 standards and amend only those claims that he believes, in good faith, are cognizable. 26 A. 27 Plaintiff may not bring suit against defendants in their official capacity. “The Eleventh 28 Amendment bars suits for money damages in federal court against a state, its agencies, and state Liability 2 1 officials acting in their official capacities.” Aholelei v. Dept. of Public Safety, 488 F.3d 1144, 1147 2 (9th Cir. 2007). Additionally, the CDCR is a state agency entitled to Eleventh Amendment 3 Immunity. Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). PVSP is part of the CDCR and, as 4 such, is also entitled to Eleventh Amendment Immunity from suit. 5 B. 6 The Eighth Amendment protects prisoners from inhumane methods of punishment and from 7 inhumane conditions of confinement. Morgan v. Morgensen, 465 F.3d 1041, 1045 (9th Cir. 2006). 8 Extreme deprivations are required to make out a conditions of confinement claim, and only those 9 deprivations denying the minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities are sufficiently grave to form 10 the basis of an Eighth Amendment violation. Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 9, 112 S. Ct. 995 11 (1992) (citations and quotations omitted). In order to state a claim for violation of the Eighth 12 Amendment, the plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to support a claim that prison officials knew 13 of and disregarded a substantial risk of serious harm to the plaintiff. E.g., Farmer v. Brennan, 511 14 U.S. 825, 847 (1994); Frost v. Agnos, 152 F.3d 1124, 1128 (9th Cir. 1998). Eighth Amendment Claim 15 Where an inmate is challenging the conditions of confinement he must show there was a 16 deprivation “sufficiently serious” to form the basis of a violation and “the prison official acted with 17 a sufficiently culpable state of mind.” Johnson v. Lewis, 217 F.3d 726, 731 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting 18 Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991)). The circumstances, nature, and duration of the 19 deprivations are critical in determining whether the conditions complained of are grave enough to 20 form the basis of a viable Eighth Amendment claim. Johnson, 217 F.3d at 731. Although Plaintiff 21 claims that his life and health are in jeopardy by being housed at PVSP, he fails to state more than 22 a speculative risk of harm that is insufficient to state a cognizable claim. Additionally, Plaintiff fails 23 to allege facts to show that any named defendant personally participated in any act or failure to act 24 in response to a known substantial risk of serious harm. Thomas v. Ponder, 611 F.3d 1144, 1150 25 (9th Cir. 2010). 26 C. 27 The Due Process Clause protects against the deprivation of liberty without due process of 28 law. Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 221, 125 S. Ct. 2384, 2393 (2005). In order to state a cause Fourteenth Amendment Claim 3 1 of action for a deprivation of due process, a plaintiff must first identify a liberty interest for which 2 the protection is sought. Id. The Due Process Clause does not confer a liberty interest in freedom 3 from state action taken within a prisoner’s imposed sentence. Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 480, 4 115 S. Ct. 2293, 2298 (1995). 5 There is no substantive liberty interest in being housed in a particular prison. Olim v. 6 Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238, 245 (1983); White v. Lambert, 370 F.3d 1002, 1013 (9th Cir. 2004) 7 (overruled on other grounds by Hayward v. Marshall, 603 F.3d 546 (9th Cir. 2010). Neither the 8 initial decision assigning the inmate to a particular prison nor a subsequent transfer to a different 9 prison implicate the Due Process Clause. Olim, 461 U.S. 244-45; see Moody v. Daggett, 429 U.S. 10 78, 88 f. 9 (1976); Montanye v. Haymes, 427 U.S. 236, 242 (1976). Plaintiff does not have a liberty 11 interest in being moved to a “Valley Fever Free” prison. 12 To the extent that Plaintiff attempts to state a due process claim based upon his exposure to 13 Valley Fever, where a particular amendment provides an explicit textual source of constitutional 14 protection against a particular sort of government behavior, that Amendment, not the more 15 generalized notion of substantive due process, must be the guide for analyzing a plaintiff’s claims.” 16 Patel v. Penman, 103 F.3d 868, 874 (9th Cir. 1996) (citations, internal quotations, and brackets 17 omitted) overruled on other grounds by Unitherm Food Systems, Inc. V. Swift –Eckrick, Inc., 546 18 U.S. 394 (2006); County of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833, 842 (1998). In the case of 19 Plaintiff’s exposure to Valley Fever, the Eighth Amendment “provides [the] explicit textual source 20 of constitutional protection . . . .” Patel, 103 F.3d at 874. Therefore, the Eighth Amendment rather 21 than the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment governs Plaintiff’s claim. 22 III. Conclusion and Order 23 For the reasons stated, Plaintiff’s complaint does not state a cognizable claim for relief for 24 a violation of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff is granted leave to file an amended complaint within 25 thirty days. Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448-49 (9th Cir. 1987). Plaintiff may not change the 26 nature of this suit by adding new, unrelated claims in his amended complaint. George v. Smith, 507 27 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007) (no “buckshot” complaints). 28 Plaintiff’s amended complaint should be brief, Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a), but must state what each 4 1 named defendant did that led to the deprivation of Plaintiff’s constitutional or other federal rights, 2 Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1948-49. “The inquiry into causation must be individualized and focus on the 3 duties and responsibilities of each individual defendant whose acts or omissions are alleged to have 4 caused a constitutional deprivation.” Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 633 (9th Cir. 1988). Although 5 accepted as true, the “[f]actual allegations must be [sufficient] to raise a right to relief above the 6 speculative level . . . .” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). 7 Finally, an amended complaint supercedes the original complaint, Forsyth v. Humana, Inc., 8 114 F.3d 1467, 1474 (9th Cir. 1997); King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987), and must 9 be “complete in itself without reference to the prior or superceded pleading,” Local Rule 220. “All 10 causes of action alleged in an original complaint which are not alleged in an amended complaint are 11 waived.” King, 814 F.2d at 567 (citing to London v. Coopers & Lybrand, 644 F.2d 811, 814 (9th 12 Cir. 1981)); accord Forsyth, 114 F.3d at 1474. 13 Based on the foregoing, it is HEREBY ORDERED that: 14 1. The Clerk’s Office shall send Plaintiff a civil rights complaint form; 15 2. Plaintiff’s complaint, filed February 3, 2011, is dismissed for failure to state a claim 16 17 upon which relief may be granted under section 1983; 3. 18 19 amended complaint; and 4. 20 21 22 Within thirty (30) days from the date of service of this order, Plaintiff shall file an If Plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint in compliance with this order, this action will be dismissed, with prejudice, for failure to state a claim. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: 10c20k February 16, 2012 /s/ Barbara A. McAuliffe UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 23 24 25 26 27 28 5

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