Heredia v. CCI

Filing 12

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND, signed by Magistrate Judge Jennifer L. Thurston on 9/22/16: 30-Day Deadline. (Attachments: # 1 Amended Complaint - blank form)(Hellings, J)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 AARON AUGUSTINE HEREDIA, 12 Plaintiff, 13 14 Case No. 1:16-cv-00788-JLT (PC) ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND v. (Doc. 1) CCI, 15 Defendant. 30-DAY DEADLINE 16 17 18 Plaintiff alleges he was attacked by another inmate while he was on the phone. Because he fails to state a cognizable claim, the Complaint is DISMISSED with leave to amend. 19 A. 20 The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a Screening Requirement 21 governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The 22 Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally 23 frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary 24 relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),(2); 28 U.S.C. 25 § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). If an action is dismissed on one of these three basis, a strike is imposed 26 per 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). An inmate who has had three or more prior actions or appeals dismissed 27 as frivolous, malicious, or for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and has 28 not alleged imminent danger of serious physical injury does not qualify to proceed in forma 1 1 pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g); Richey v. Dahne, 807 F.3d 1201, 1208 (9th Cir. 2015). 2 B. 3 Plaintiff complains of incidents that occurred at California Correctional Institute (“CCI”) 4 in Tehachapi, California. CCI is the only defendant Plaintiff identified. Plaintiff alleges that, on 5 January 21, 2015, he was using the phone at his assigned time when he was attacked by a “drunk 6 level 4 inmate.” Plaintiff ended up being shot twice by the tower officer and sprayed with 3 cans 7 of pepper-spray during the incident. Plaintiff alleges that the level 4 inmate is a trouble-maker 8 and has been in two more fights since. Plaintiff is a level 2 inmate who complies with the 9 requirements of his program, and has never had any write-ups during his entire term of Summary of Plaintiff=s Complaint 10 incarceration. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and requests the “115 write up” and everything 11 about this incident be removed from his C-File. 12 Plaintiff has not stated any cognizable claims but may be able to correct the deficiencies in 13 his pleading so as to state a cognizable claim. Thus, he is being given the pleading requirements, 14 the legal standards for claims he may be attempting to state (though none are identified), and 15 leave to file a first amended complaint. 16 17 C. Pleading Requirements 1. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) 18 "Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited 19 exceptions," none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 20 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a). A complaint must contain "a short and plain 21 statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a). 22 "Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and 23 the grounds upon which it rests." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. 24 Detailed factual allegations are not required, but A[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a 25 cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.@ Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 26 U.S. 662, 678 (2009), quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). 27 Plaintiff must set forth Asufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to >state a claim that is 28 plausible on its face.=@ Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Factual 2 1 allegations are accepted as true, but legal conclusions are not. Iqbal. at 678; see also Moss v. U.S. 2 Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556-557. 3 While Aplaintiffs [now] face a higher burden of pleadings facts . . . ,@ Al-Kidd v. Ashcroft, 4 580 F.3d 949, 977 (9th Cir. 2009), the pleadings of pro se prisoners are still construed liberally 5 and are afforded the benefit of any doubt. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). 6 However, "the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations," Neitze 7 v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989), "a liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may 8 not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled," Bruns v. Nat'l Credit 9 Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 10 268 (9th Cir. 1982), and courts are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences, Doe I v. Wal- 11 Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation 12 omitted). The “sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully” is not sufficient, and 13 “facts that are ‘merely consistent with’ a defendant’s liability” fall short of satisfying the 14 plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S. Ct. at 1949; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969. 15 If he chooses to file a first amended complaint, Plaintiff should endeavor to make it as 16 concise as possible and under twenty-five pages. He should merely state which of his 17 constitutional rights he feels were violated by each Defendant and its factual basis. 18 19 20 21 22 23 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. 24 42 U.S.C. ' 1983. The statute plainly requires that there be an actual connection or link between 25 the actions of the defendants and the deprivation alleged to have been suffered by Plaintiff. See 26 Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 27 (1976). The Ninth Circuit has held that A[a] person >subjects= another to the deprivation of a 28 constitutional right, within the meaning of section 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates 3 1 in another=s affirmative acts or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that 2 causes the deprivation of which complaint is made.@ Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th 3 Cir. 1978). In order to state a claim for relief under section 1983, Plaintiff must link each named 4 defendant with some affirmative act or omission that demonstrates a violation of Plaintiff=s 5 federal rights. 6 Plaintiff fails to link any individual persons to any of his allegations. Plaintiff must 7 clearly state which individuals he feels are responsible for each violation of his constitutional 8 rights and their factual basis as his complaint must put them on notice of Plaintiff=s claims against 9 him or her. See Austin v. Terhune, 367 F.3d 1167, 1171 (9th Cir. 2004). 10 11 12 D. Legal Standards 1. Eighth Amendment -- Failure to Protect "The treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which he is confined 13 are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832, 14 114 S.Ct. 1970 (1994) (citing Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993)). Prison officials 15 have a duty "to take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of inmates, which has been 16 interpreted to include a duty to protect prisoners." Labatad v. Corrections Corp. of America, 714 17 F.3d 1155, 1160 (citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at 832-33; Hearns v. Terhune, 413 F.3d 1036, 1040 18 (9th Cir. 2005)). 19 To establish a violation of this duty, the prisoner must "show that the officials acted with 20 deliberate indifference to threat of serious harm or injury to an inmate." Labatad, at 1160 (citing 21 Gibson v. County of Washoe, 290 F.3d 1175, 1187 (9th Cir. 2002). This involves both objective 22 and subjective components. 23 First, objectively, the alleged deprivation must be "sufficiently serious" and where a 24 failure to prevent harm is alleged, "the inmate must show that he is incarcerated under conditions 25 posing a substantial risk of serious harm." Id. at 834, quoting Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 26 349, 101 S.Ct. 2392 (1981). Second, subjectively, the prison official must "know of and 27 disregard an excessive risk to inmate health or safety." Id. at 837; Anderson v. County of Kern, 28 45 F.3d 1310, 1313 (9th Cir. 1995). A prison official must "be aware of facts from which the 4 1 inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and . . . must also draw the 2 inference." Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837, 114 S.Ct. 1970. Liability may follow only if a prison 3 official "knows that inmates face a substantial risk of serious harm and disregards that risk by 4 failing to take reasonable measures to abate it." Id. at 847, 114 S.Ct. 1970. 5 6 2. Supervisory Liability Plaintiff is informed that supervisory personnel are generally not liable under section 1983 7 for the actions of their employees under a theory of respondeat superior and, therefore, when a 8 named defendant holds a supervisory position, the causal link between him and the claimed 9 constitutional violation must be specifically alleged. See Fayle v. Stapley, 607 F.2d 858, 862 (9th 10 Cir. 1979); Mosher v. Saalfeld, 589 F.2d 438, 441 (9th Cir. 1978), cert. denied, 442 U.S. 941 11 (1979). To state a claim for relief under section 1983 based on a theory of supervisory liability, 12 Plaintiff must allege some facts that would support a claim that supervisory defendants either: 13 personally participated in the alleged deprivation of constitutional rights; knew of the violations 14 and failed to act to prevent them; or promulgated or "implemented a policy so deficient that the 15 policy 'itself is a repudiation of constitutional rights' and is 'the moving force of the constitutional 16 violation.'" Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 646 (9th Cir. 1989) (internal citations omitted); 17 Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Under section 1983, liability may not be 18 imposed on supervisory personnel for the actions of their employees under a theory of respondeat 19 superior. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677. "In a § 1983 suit or a Bivens action - where masters do not 20 answer for the torts of their servants - the term 'supervisory liability' is a misnomer." Id. 21 Knowledge and acquiescence of a subordinate's misconduct is insufficient to establish liability; 22 each government official is only liable for his or her own misconduct. Id. 23 A>[B]are assertions . . . amount[ing] to nothing more than a Aformulaic recitation of the 24 elements@ of a constitutional discrimination claim,= for the purposes of ruling on a motion to 25 dismiss [and thus also for screening purposes], are not entitled to an assumption of truth.@ Moss, 26 572 F.3d at 969 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 1951 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555)). ASuch 27 allegations are not to be discounted because they are >unrealistic or nonsensical,= but rather 28 because they do nothing more than state a legal conclusion B even if that conclusion is cast in the 5 1 form of a factual allegation.@ Id. Thus, any allegations that supervisory personnel such as a 2 Warden is somehow liable because of the acts of those under his or her supervision does not state 3 a cognizable claim. 4 5 3. Eleventh Amendment Immunity Plaintiff names CCI as the only defendant in this action. Plaintiff may not sustain an 6 action against a state prison. The Eleventh Amendment prohibits federal courts from hearing 7 suits brought against an un-consenting state. Brooks v. Sulphur Springs Valley Elec. Co., 951 8 F.2d 1050, 1053 (9th Cir. 1991); see also Seminole Tribe of Fla. v. Florida, 116 S.Ct. 1114, 1122 9 (1996); Puerto Rico Aqueduct Sewer Auth. v. Metcalf & Eddy, Inc., 506 U.S. 139, 144 (1993); 10 Austin v. State Indus. Ins. Sys., 939 F.2d 676, 677 (9th Cir. 1991). The Eleventh Amendment bars 11 suits against state agencies as well as those where the state itself is named as a defendant. See 12 Natural Resources Defense Council v. California Dep=t of Tranp., 96 F.3d 420, 421 (9th Cir. 13 1996); Brooks v. Sulphur Springs Valley Elec. Co., 951 F.2d 1050, 1053 (9th Cir. 1991); Taylor v. 14 List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989) (concluding that Nevada Department of Prisons was a 15 state agency entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity); Mitchell v. Los Angeles Community 16 College Dist., 861 F.2d 198, 201 (9th Cir. 1989). AThough its language might suggest otherwise, 17 the Eleventh Amendment has long been construed to extend to suits brought against a state by its 18 own citizens, as well as by citizens of other states.@ Brooks, 951 F.2d at 1053 (citations omitted). 19 AThe Eleventh Amendment=s jurisdictional bar covers suits naming state agencies and 20 departments as defendants, and applies whether the relief is legal or equitable in nature.@ Id. 21 (citation omitted). Because CCI is a part of the California Department of Corrections, which is a 22 state agency, it is entitled to dismissal based on Eleventh Amendment. 23 4. Heck/Edwards Bar 24 The United States Supreme Court has determined that an inmate may not bring an action 25 under § 1983 if its success would release the claimant from confinement or shorten its duration, 26 Preiser v, Ridrugyez, 411 U.S. 475, 500, 93 S.Ct. 1827 (1973), or would necessarily imply the 27 invalidity of the conviction or sentence, Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994). Where the 28 plaintiff’s success on a § 1983 action would necessarily imply the invalidity of his underlying 6 1 conviction or sentence, he must first "prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on 2 direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to 3 make such determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas 4 corpus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254." Heck at 487-88. "A claim for damages bearing that relationship to a 5 conviction or sentence that has not been so invalidated is not cognizable under § 1983." Id. at 6 488. This "favorable termination" requirement has been extended to actions under § 1983 that, if 7 successful, would imply the invalidity of prison administrative decisions which result in a 8 forfeiture of good-time credits. Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 643–647 (1997). 9 Thus, if removal of the “115 write-up” from Plaintiff’s file would result in resurrection of 10 any good-time credits, Plaintiff must show that the guilty finding they were based on has been 11 invalidated before he may pursue claims under § 1983. Plaintiff has not shown that any finding 12 against him under the 115 has been favorably terminated and thus cannot pursue any claims under 13 § 1983 on the underlying events at this time. 14 E. CONCLUSION 15 For the reasons set forth above, Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed with leave to file a first 16 amended complaint within thirty days. If Plaintiff needs an extension of time to comply with this 17 order, Plaintiff shall file a motion seeking an extension of time no later than thirty days from the 18 date of service of this order. 19 Plaintiff must demonstrate in any first amended complaint how the conditions complained 20 of have resulted in a deprivation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights. See Ellis v. Cassidy, 625 F.2d 21 227 (9th Cir. 1980). The first amended complaint must allege in specific terms how each named 22 defendant is involved. There can be no liability under section 1983 unless there is some 23 affirmative link or connection between a defendant's actions and the claimed deprivation. Rizzo 24 v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976); May v. Enomoto, 633 F.2d 164, 167 (9th Cir. 1980); Johnson v. 25 Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). 26 Plaintiff's first amended complaint should be brief. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Such a short and 27 plain statement must "give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon 28 which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) quoting Conley v. 7 1 Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957). Although accepted as true, the "[f]actual allegations must be 2 [sufficient] to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . ." Twombly, 550 U.S. 127, 555 3 (2007) (citations omitted). 4 Plaintiff is further advised that an amended complaint supercedes the original, Lacey v. 5 Maricopa County, Nos. 09-15806, 09-15703, 2012 WL 3711591, at *1 n.1 (9th Cir. Aug. 29, 6 2012) (en banc), and must be "complete in itself without reference to the prior or superceded 7 pleading," Local Rule 220. 8 9 The Court provides Plaintiff with opportunity to amend to cure the deficiencies identified by the Court in this order. Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448-49 (9th Cir. 1987). Plaintiff 10 may not change the nature of this suit by adding new, unrelated claims in his first amended 11 complaint. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007) (no "buckshot" complaints). 12 Based on the foregoing, the Court ORDERS: 13 1. Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed, with leave to amend; 14 2. The Clerk's Office shall send Plaintiff a civil rights complaint form; 15 3. Within 30 days from the date of service of this order, Plaintiff shall file a first 16 amended complaint curing the deficiencies identified by the Court in this order, or 17 a notice of voluntary dismissal; and 18 4. If Plaintiff fails to comply with this order, this action will be dismissed for failure to obey a court order and for failure to state a claim. 19 20 21 22 23 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: September 22, 2016 /s/ Jennifer L. Thurston UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 24 25 26 27 28 8

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