Haynie v. Voong et al

Filing 10

SCREENING ORDER DISMISSING AMENDED COMPLAINT for Failure to State a Cognizable Claim, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND, signed by Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe on 10/5/17: 30-Day Deadline. (Attachments: # 1 Amended Complaint - blank form)(Hellings, J)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 DONELL THOMAS HAYNIE, 12 13 14 Plaintiff, v. M. VOONG, et al., 15 Defendants. 16 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Case No.: 1:16-cv-01561-BAM (PC) SCREENING ORDER DISMISSING AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR FAILURE TO STATE A COGNIZABLE CLAIM, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF No. 9) THIRTY (30) DAY DEADLINE 17 18 Plaintiff Donell Thomas Haynie (“Plaintiff”), a state prisoner proceeding pro se and informa 19 pauperis, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, on October 17, 2016. Plaintiff then filed a first 20 amended complaint on March 17, 2017. Currently before the Court for screening is Plaintiff’s first 21 amended complaint filed on March 17, 2017. (ECF No. 9.) 22 I. 23 The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a Screening Requirement 24 governmental entity and/or against an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 25 1915A(a). Plaintiff’s complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or 26 malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief 27 from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2); 28 U.S.C. § 28 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). 1 1 A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is 2 entitled to relief. . . .” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but 3 “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, 4 do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell 5 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)). While a plaintiff’s 6 allegations are taken as true, courts “are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences.” Doe I v. 7 Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation 8 omitted). 9 Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings liberally 10 construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 11 2010) (citations omitted). To survive screening, Plaintiff’s claims must be facially plausible, which 12 requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is 13 liable for the misconduct alleged, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); 14 Moss v. United States Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a 15 defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of 16 satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks 17 omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969. Plaintiff’s Complaint 18 II. 19 Plaintiff is currently housed at the California Correctional Institution (CCI) in Tehachapi, 20 California, where the events at issue occurred. Plaintiff names M. Voong, chief of appeals, M. 21 Hodges, Captain, and E. Garcia, Warden as defendants in the case. Plaintiff alleges as follows. On 22 January 14, 2016, Plaintiff arrived at CCI. Plaintiff attended a classification committee meeting on 23 January 27, 2016. Plaintiff was told that he would be restricted to non-contact visits with minors 24 because of a juvenile hearing in 2001, when Plaintiff was 15 years old. Plaintiff had never been told 25 that his visits were restricted and that prior to arriving at CCI, he had been allowed to receive visitors 26 with minors present. He was also employed in 2012 and 2013 in the visiting room at Kern Valley 27 State Prison where minors were present. 28 2 1 On February 22, 2016, Plaintiff filed an appeal and requested that his visitation be investigated 2 as he was trying to schedule a visit with his 13 year old daughter. On April 8, 2016, Plaintiff received 3 a response from Chief Deputy Warden E. Garcia. The appeal response granted Plaintiff’s request for a 4 quick investigation and denied Plaintiff’s request for visitation with minors. Plaintiff received a third 5 level response on July 25, 2016 stating that Plaintiff was “well aware” of the imposed visiting 6 restrictions and dismissed the appeal. Plaintiff alleges that the dismissal failed to provide the 7 information that indicated Plaintiff was aware or waived his visitation rights. The third level appeal 8 failed to recognize that Plaintiff had received visits with minors before and failed to acknowledge that 9 a hearing was not conducted to determine if Plaintiff was a threat. 10 Plaintiff alleges Defendant Voong is legally responsible for overall operation of inmate 11 appeals. Defendant Hodges, as captain, was assigned to review the appeal at the third level. 12 Defendant Garcia is the Warden and legally responsible for the operation of CCI. 13 Plaintiff has been unable to visit with his family for contact visits. Contact visits are for 6 14 hours while no-contact visits are only behind a glass for a maximum of 1 hour. Plaintiff has stress, 15 anxiety, high blood pressure, for not having contact with his family. Plaintiff sues each defendant in 16 their official and individual capacities and seeks $1 million from each defendant and punitive damages 17 of $2 million. 18 19 20 III. Discussion A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, a complaint must contain “a short and plain 21 statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). As noted 22 above, detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a 23 cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 24 (citation omitted). Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim 25 to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). While factual 26 allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id.; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556– 27 557; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969. 28 3 1 Plaintiff’s complaint is short but fails to state a claim. Plaintiff must allege what each person 2 did that he believes violated his right. Plaintiff will be granted leave to amend his complaint. If 3 Plaintiff elects to amend, he must state in clear and plain language the basis of his claim, including the 4 facts (such as names, dates, and events) concerning what a defendant or defendants did or did not do 5 that violated his constitutional rights. 6 7 B. Supervisory Liability Plaintiff names M.Voong, chief of appeals, M. Hodges, Captain, and E. Garcia, Warden as 8 defendants. Plaintiff alleges that these Defendants have the legal responsibility for operations of the 9 inmate appeals and of the institution. 10 Plaintiff is informed that supervisory personnel may not be held liable under section 1983 for 11 the actions of subordinate employees based on respondeat superior or vicarious liability. Crowley v. 12 Bannister, 734 F.3d 967, 977 (9th Cir. 2013); accord Lemire v. California Dep’t of Corr. and Rehab., 13 726 F.3d 1062, 1074–75 (9th Cir. 2013); Lacey v. Maricopa County, 693 F.3d 896, 915–16 (9th Cir. 14 2012) (en banc). “A supervisor may be liable only if (1) he or she is personally involved in the 15 constitutional deprivation, or (2) there is a sufficient causal connection between the supervisor’s 16 wrongful conduct and the constitutional violation.” Crowley, 734 F.3d at 977 (internal quotation 17 marks omitted); accord Lemire, 726 F.3d at 1074–75; Lacey, 693 F.3d at 915–16. “Under the latter 18 theory, supervisory liability exists even without overt personal participation in the offensive act if 19 supervisory officials implement a policy so deficient that the policy itself is a repudiation of 20 constitutional rights and is the moving force of a constitutional violation.” Crowley, 734 F.3d at 977 21 (citing Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 646 (9th Cir. 1989)) (internal quotation marks omitted). 22 Under section 1983, Plaintiff must allege factual support to show that each defendant 23 personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Plaintiff must allege factual support to show 24 that each defendant, through his or her own individual actions, violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights. 25 Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676. To the extent Plaintiff seeks to state a claim against Defendants Voong, 26 Hodges, or Garcia, or any supervisory defendant, based on a policy, he must identify that policy, plead 27 facts showing he was deprived of a constitutional right, and show that the policy was the cause, or 28 4 1 moving force, of the violation or deprivation of his rights. He must also plead facts showing a 2 sufficient connection between the defendant and the policy. 3 4 C. Contact Visits with Daughter The Due Process Clause itself does not confer on inmates a liberty interest in a particular 5 classification status. See Moody v. Daggett, 429 U.S. 78, 88, n. 9 (1976). The existence of a liberty 6 interest created by state law is determined by focusing on the nature of the deprivation. Sandin v. 7 Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 481-84 (1995). Liberty interests created by state law are generally limited to 8 freedom from restraint which “imposes atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to 9 the ordinary incidents of prison life.” Sandin, 515 U.S. at 484. 10 Under certain circumstances, labeling a prisoner with a particular classification may implicate 11 a liberty interest subject to the protections of due process. Neal v. Shimoda, 131 F.3d 818, 830 (9th 12 Cir. 1997) (“[T]he stigmatizing consequences of the attachment of the ‘sex offender’ label coupled 13 with the subjection of the targeted inmate to a mandatory treatment program whose successful 14 completion is a precondition for parole eligibility create the kind of deprivations of liberty that require 15 procedural protections.”). 16 It is unclear whether Plaintiff’s claim is that he was wrongly classified as a sex offender. 17 Regardless, he does not allege that any named defendant was involved in the classification. He only 18 alleges that they did not correct the situation on appeal. 19 Plaintiff’s main allegation is that because of his wrongful classification, he cannot have contact 20 visits with his daughter. An inmate has no federal constitutional right to contact visitation. Kentucky 21 Dep't of Corr. v. Thompson, 490 U.S. 454, 461 (1989) (“The denial of prison access to a particular 22 visitor ‘is well within the terms of confinement ordinarily contemplated by a prison sentence,’ ... and 23 therefore is not independently protected by the Due Process Clause.”); Block v. Rutherford, 468 U.S. 24 576, 589 (1984); Gerber v. Hickman, 291 F.3d 617, 621 (9th Cir. 2002) (en banc) (“it is well-settled 25 that prisoners have no constitutional right while incarcerated to contact visits or conjugal visits.”) 26 (quoted in Shallowhorn v. Molina, 572 Fed.Appx. 545, 547 (2014)). “[I]t is well-settled that prisoners 27 have no constitutional right while incarcerated to contact visits.” Dunn v. Castro, 621 F.3d 1196, 1202 28 (9th Cir. 2010). Accordingly, this claim is not a cognizable basis for relief. 5 1 Although it is well established that the First Amendment protects parent-child association, 2 Board of Dir. v. Rotary Club, 481 U.S. 537, 545, 107 S.Ct. 1940, 95 L.Ed.2d 474 (1987), and a parent 3 generally has a “fundamental liberty interest” in “the companionship and society of his or her child,” 4 Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 753, 102 S.Ct. 1388, 71 L.Ed.2d 599 (1982), it nonetheless 5 remains true that those rights can be significantly curtailed during incarceration. See Overton v. 6 Bazzetta, 539 U.S. 126, 131, 133, 123 S.Ct. 2162 (2003); see Turner v. Safeley, 482 U.S. 78, 89-91, 7 107 S.Ct. 2254 (1987) (we held that four factors are relevant in deciding whether a prison regulation 8 affecting a constitutional right that survives incarceration withstands constitutional challenge: whether 9 the regulation has a “ ‘valid, rational connection’ ” to a legitimate governmental interest; whether 10 alternative means are open to inmates to exercise the asserted right; what impact an accommodation of 11 the right would have on guards and inmates and prison resources; and whether there are “ready 12 alternatives” to the regulation.) 13 14 15 16 Plaintiff has failed to state a cognizable claim as to his classification. Plaintiff has also failed to state a cognizable claim as to contact visits with his daughter. Leave to amend will be granted. D. Inmate Grievance Process Plaintiff appears to bring suit against the defendants based on the handling and denial of his 17 inmate appeals (grievances), including failure to correct his classification. However, Plaintiff cannot 18 pursue any claims against staff relating to their involvement in the administrative processing or review 19 of his prisoner grievances. Prisoners have no stand-alone due process rights related to the 20 administrative grievance process. See Mann v. Adams, 855 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1988); see also 21 Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 860 (9th Cir. 2003) (holding that there is no liberty interest entitling 22 inmates to a specific grievance process). Because there is no right to any particular grievance process, 23 it is impossible for due process to have been violated by ignoring or failing to properly process 24 grievances. To state a claim under section 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate personal involvement in 25 the underlying violation of his rights, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677; Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 26 (9th Cir. 2002), and liability may not be based merely on Plaintiff's dissatisfaction with the 27 administrative process or a decision on an appeal, Ramirez, 334 F.3d at 860; Mann, 855 F.2d at 640. 28 Prison officials are not required under federal law to process inmate grievances in a specific way or to 6 1 respond to them in a favorable manner. Because there is no right to any particular grievance process, 2 plaintiff cannot state a cognizable civil rights claim for a violation of his due process rights based on 3 allegations that prison officials ignored or failed to properly process grievances. See, e.g., Wright v. 4 Shannon, 2010 WL 445203 at *5 (E.D. Cal. Feb. 2, 2010) (plaintiff's allegations that prison officials 5 denied or ignored his inmate appeals failed to state a cognizable claim under the First Amendment). 6 To the extent Plaintiff is attempting to state a claim for failure to process his inmate appeal, he 7 is informed that there is no right to any particular grievance process and failure to properly process a 8 grievance does not violate his due process rights. Similarly, a defendant cannot be liable where the 9 defendant’s only involvement is in the appeal process. E. Official Capacity 10 11 Plaintiff sues each Defendant in their individual capacity and in their official capacity. 12 Plaintiff is hereby informed that “[t]he Eleventh Amendment bars suits for money damages in 13 federal court against a state, its agencies, and state officials in their official capacities.” Aholelei v. 14 Dept. of Public Safety, 488 F.3d 1144, 1147 (9th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted). Suits for injunctive 15 relief are also generally barred. See Nat'l Audubon Soc'y v. Davis, 307 F.3d 835, 847 (9th Cir. 2002). 16 However, the Eleventh Amendment does not bar suits seeking damages against state officials in their 17 personal capacities, Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 30 (1991); Porter v. Jones, 319 F.3d 483, 491 (9th 18 Cir. 2003), or suits for injunctive relief brought against state officials in their official capacities, Austin 19 v. State Indus. Ins. System, 939 F.2d 676, 680 fn.2 (9th Cir. 1991). 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 Thus, Plaintiff may only proceed against any defendant for money damages in their individual capacity. IV. Conclusion and Order The Court finds that the first amended complaint fails to state any cognizable claim upon which relief may be granted. The Court will grant Plaintiff an opportunity to cure the deficiencies identified above which Plaintiff believes, in good faith, are curable. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000). If Plaintiff chooses to amend his complaint, he may not change the nature of this suit by adding 28 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 new, unrelated claims in his first amended complaint. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007) (no “buckshot” complaints). The amended complaint should be brief, Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a), but it must state what each named defendant did that led to the deprivation of Plaintiff’s constitutional rights, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79, 129 S.Ct. at 1948-49. Although accepted as true, “[f]actual allegations must be [sufficient] to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . .” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). Finally, Plaintiff is advised that an amended complaint supersedes the original complaint. Lacey, 693 F.3d at 927. Therefore, unless the Court orders otherwise, Plaintiff’s amended complaint must be “complete in itself without reference to the prior or superseded pleading.” Local Rule 220. 10 Based on the foregoing, it is HEREBY ORDERED that: 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 1. Plaintiff’s first amended complaint filed on March 17, 2017 (ECF No. 9) is dismissed for the failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted with leave to amend; 2. The Clerk’s Office shall send to Plaintiff a civil rights complaint form; 3. Within thirty (30) days from the date of service of this order, Plaintiff shall file a second amended complaint or a notice of voluntary dismissal; and 4. If Plaintiff fails to comply with this order, this action will be dismissed for failure to state a claim and failure to obey a court order.. IT IS SO ORDERED. 20 21 Dated: /s/ Barbara October 5, 2017 A. McAuliffe _ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 8

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?