Wright v. Macomber et al

Filing 14

ORDER signed by Magistrate Judge Kendall J. Newman on 3/24/2017 DISMISSING plaintiff's amended complaint with leave to file a second amended complaint within 30 days.(Yin, K)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 DOMINIC VA’SHON WRIGHT, 12 Plaintiff, 13 14 No. 2:16-cv-2054 JAM KJN P v. ORDER JEFF MACOMBER, et al., 15 Defendants. 16 17 Plaintiff is a state prisoner, proceeding without counsel, with a civil rights action pursuant 18 to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On December 8, 2016, the undersigned dismissed plaintiff’s complaint with 19 leave to amend. (ECF No. 8.) Pending before the court is plaintiff’s amended complaint. (ECF 20 No. 13.) For the reasons stated herein, the amended complaint is dismissed with leave to amend. 21 Plaintiff’s Claims Named as defendants are Warden Macomber, Associate Warden Eldridge, Correctional 22 23 Counselor Hontz, Captain Roth, Correctional Officer Masterson and Reames.1 24 Plaintiff alleges that on September 3, 2014, defendant Macomber told plaintiff that 25 defendant Roth had a “personal problem” with plaintiff. (Id. at 5.) On September 4, 2014, 26 27 28 1 Defendant Reames is not listed as a defendant in the paragraphs of the complaint listing the defendants. (See ECF No. 13 at 2.) However, plaintiff identifies Reames as a defendant in the discussion of his claims. (Id. at 6.) 1 1 plaintiff was involved in an incident on the yard. (Id.) Plaintiff suffered a broken jaw after 2 fighting with two other inmates. (Id. at 5, 7.) Defendant Roth allegedly placed plaintiff in 3 administrative segregation (“ad seg”) without medical attention and filed charges against plaintiff. 4 (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff alleges that defendant Roth released the other two inmates involved in the 5 incident from their cages without placing them in ad seg pending an investigation, which would 6 have been normal procedure. (Id.) 7 Plaintiff alleges that he filed emergency 602s regarding his placement in ad seg and 8 requesting medical attention. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he wrote to defendant Macomber but was 9 “put off” to someone else. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he was denied access to an Institutional 10 Classification Committee (“ICC”) after his placement in ad seg, in violation of regulations. (Id.) 11 Plaintiff alleges that every inmate has the right to hear why they are being charged and placed in 12 ad seg. (Id.) 13 Plaintiff alleges that on October 18, 2014, he filed a grievance challenging his placement 14 in ad seg. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that defendant Hontz came to ad seg to speak with plaintiff 15 regarding the grievance. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he pointed out the errors in the paperwork that 16 was filed to place him in ad seg. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that defendant Hontz told plaintiff, “We’ll 17 have to bring you back to committee and correct the charges.” (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff alleges that 18 defendant Hontz also said, “We only put [plaintiff] here (ad seg) for a while, so you act right on 19 the yard.” (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that defendant Hontz knew that the paperwork was false and 20 asked plaintiff to drop the grievance. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he was held in ad seg from 21 September 4, 2014, to October 9, 2015. (Id.) 22 Plaintiff alleges that defendant Eldridge heard the 602 that plaintiff filed on October 18, 23 2014. (Id.) Defendant Eldridge allegedly filed a false statement and allowed the ad seg 24 placement order to stand. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that defendant Eldridge allowed defendant 25 Roth’s personal vendetta against plaintiff to continue. (Id.) 26 Plaintiff alleges that defendant Masterson filed false (disciplinary) charges against 27 plaintiff based on the September 4, 2014 incident. (Id. at 7.) Plaintiff alleges that defendant 28 Masterson falsely stated that plaintiff was the problem in the incident. (Id.) 2 1 Plaintiff alleges that defendant Reames knew that defendant Masterson was going to file a 2 false report against plaintiff based on the September 4, 2014 incident. (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff alleges 3 claims that on August 25, 2014, defendant Masterson falsely charged plaintiff with possessing a 4 knife. (Id. at 6-7.) Plaintiff alleges that defendant Reames investigated this charge and found no 5 merit it to. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that defendant Reames knew that the charges based on the 6 September 4, 2014 incident were false because defendant Masterson had filed false charges 7 against him on August 25, 2014. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that on September 4, 2014, defendant 8 Reames told plaintiff, “If you don’t talk up now, Masterson is going to get you.” (Id. at 6.) 9 Plaintiff alleges that defendant Reames failed to report defendant Masterson’s unprofessional 10 behavior. (Id.) 11 Discussion 12 Alleged Due Process Claims Based on Placement in Ad Seg and Disciplinary Charges 13 Plaintiff alleges that defendant Roth placed plaintiff in ad seg on September 4, 2014, and 14 denied him medical care because defendant Roth had a “personal problem” with plaintiff. 15 Plaintiff appears to allege that defendants Hontz, Eldridge and Masterson conspired with 16 defendant Roth to “continue” defendant Roth’s “vendetta” against him by filing false disciplinary 17 charges and apparently ordering plaintiff’s retention in ad seg. 18 There is no due process right to be free from false disciplinary charges. The falsification 19 of a disciplinary report does not state a standalone constitutional claim. See Luster v. Amezcua, 20 2017 WL 772141 at *5 (E.D. Cal. 2017). Specifically, “the fact that a prisoner may have been 21 innocent of disciplinary charges brought against him and incorrectly held in administrative 22 segregation does not raise a due process issue. The Constitution demands due process, not error- 23 free decision-making.” Jones v. Woodward, 2015 WL 1014257, *2 (E.D. Cal. 2015) (citing 24 Ricker v. Leapley, 25 F.3d 1406, 1410 (8th Cir. 1994); McCrae v. Hankins, 720 F.2d 863, 868 25 (5th Cir. 1983)). Therefore, plaintiff has no protected liberty interest in freedom from false 26 claims against him. 27 28 Second, the due process clause itself does not confer on inmates a liberty interest in being confined in the general prison population instead of administrative segregation. See Hewitt v. 3 1 Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 466-68 (1983); see also May v. Baldwin, 109 F.3d 557, 565 (9th Cir. 1997) 2 (convicted inmate’s due process claim fails because he has no liberty interest in freedom from 3 state action taken within sentence imposed and administrative segregation falls within the terms 4 of confinement ordinarily contemplated by a sentence) (quotations omitted); Resnick v. Hayes, 5 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000) (plaintiff's placement and retention in the SHU was within 6 range of confinement normally expected by inmates in relation to ordinary incidents of prison life 7 and, therefore, plaintiff had no protected liberty interest in being free from confinement in the 8 SHU) (quotations omitted). 9 Under state law, the existence of a liberty interest created by prison regulations is 10 determined by focusing on the nature of the deprivation. Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 481-84 11 (1995). Liberty interests created by state law are “generally limited to freedom from restraint 12 which ... imposes atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary 13 incidents of prison life.” Id. at 484; Myron v. Terhune, 476 F.3d 716, 718 (9th Cir. 2007). Here, 14 plaintiff has not shown that his retention in ad seg imposed atypical and significant hardship on 15 him. A plaintiff must assert a “dramatic departure” from the standard conditions of confinement 16 before due process concerns are implicated. Sandin, 515 U.S. at 485–86; see also Keenan, 83 17 F.3d at 1088–89. 18 Accordingly, for the reasons stated above, the undersigned does not find that plaintiff has 19 stated a potentially colorable due process claim based on his placement and retention in ad seg 20 and the allegedly false disciplinary charges filed against him. 21 Retaliation 22 Plaintiff may be claiming that defendant Roth ordered his placement in ad seg and denied 23 him medical care for retaliatory reasons. Plaintiff may be claiming that defendants Hontz, 24 Eldridge and Masterson conspired with defendant Roth to retaliate against plaintiff. 25 To prevail on a claim for retaliation, a plaintiff must demonstrate (1) a state actor took 26 some adverse action against him or her; (2) because of (3) the prisoner's protected conduct and 27 such action (4) chilled the prisoner's exercise of his or her First Amendment rights and (5) the 28 action did not reasonably advance a legitimate correctional goal. Rhodes v. Robinson, 408 F.3d 4 1 559, 567-68 (9th Cir. 2004). To satisfy the causation element of a First Amendment retaliation 2 claim, Plaintiff must show that “his protected conduct was the substantial or motivating factor 3 behind the defendant's conduct.” Brodheim v. Cry, 584 F.3d 1262, 1271 (9th Cir. 2009). 4 Plaintiff has not plead a potentially colorable retaliation claim because he does not allege 5 that he engaged in protected conduct that was a substantial or motivating factor behind defendant 6 Roth’s conduct. If plaintiff files an amended complaint, he must clarify the “personal problems” 7 that defendant Roth had with him. 8 Plaintiff’s claim that defendant Macomber told plaintiff that defendant Roth had “personal 9 problems” with plaintiff does not, standing alone, state a potentially colorable claim for relief. If 10 plaintiff files an amended complaint, he shall clarify whether defendant Macomber provided him 11 with any additional information regarding the nature of the “personal problems.” 12 Eighth Amendment 13 Plaintiff alleges that defendant Roth failed to provide medical attention for plaintiff’s 14 15 broken jaw. “[T]o maintain an Eighth Amendment claim based on prison medical treatment, an inmate 16 must show ‘deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.’” Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 17 1096 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976)). The two-part test for 18 deliberate indifference requires the plaintiff to show (1) “‘a serious medical need’ by 19 demonstrating that ‘failure to treat a prisoner's condition could result in further significant injury 20 or the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain,’” and (2) “the defendant's response to the need 21 was deliberately indifferent.” Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096 (quoting McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 22 1059 (9th Cir. 1992), overruled on other grounds by WMX Techs., Inc. v. Miller, 104 F.3d 1133, 23 1136 (9th Cir. 1997) (en banc) (internal quotations omitted)). 24 Deliberate indifference is shown by “a purposeful act or failure to respond to a prisoner's 25 pain or possible medical need, and harm caused by the indifference.” Id. (citing McGuckin, 974 26 F.2d at 1060). Deliberate indifference may be manifested “when prison officials deny, delay or 27 intentionally interfere with medical treatment, or it may be shown by the way in which prison 28 physicians provide medical care.” Id. Where a prisoner is alleging a delay in receiving medical 5 1 treatment, the delay must have led to further harm in order for the prisoner to make a claim of 2 deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. McGuckin at 1060 (citing Shapely v. Nevada 3 Bd. of State Prison Comm'rs, 766 F.2d 404, 407 (9th Cir. 1985)). 4 The undersigned cannot determine whether plaintiff has stated a potentially colorable 5 Eighth Amendment claim against defendant Roth based on his failure to provide plaintiff with 6 medical care for his broken jaw. Specifically, plaintiff has not pled sufficient facts demonstrating 7 that defendant Roth acted with deliberate indifference. Plaintiff has pled no facts demonstrating 8 that defendant Roth had knowledge that plaintiff had a broken jaw. Plaintiff does not allege, for 9 example, that he told defendant Roth that he was in pain and required medical care. Accordingly, 10 this claim is dismissed with leave to amend. 11 Claims Against Defendant Reames 12 Because plaintiff has not stated potentially colorable claims against defendants Roth, 13 Eldridge, Hontz and Masterson, plaintiff has not stated a potentially colorable claim against 14 defendant Reames for allegedly failing to report their misconduct. 15 Heck v. Humphrey 16 In the December 8, 2016 order dismissing the original complaint with leave to amend, the 17 undersigned advised plaintiff that his claims challenging the prison disciplinary conviction may 18 be barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). Pursuant to Heck, a plaintiff cannot bring 19 a § 1983 action arising out of alleged unconstitutional activities that resulted in his criminal 20 conviction unless the conviction is first reversed, expunged, set aside or otherwise called into 21 question. Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-87. This “favorable termination” rule applies to prison 22 disciplinary proceedings, if those proceedings resulted in the loss of good-time or behavior 23 credits. Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 646-48 (1997). 24 The December 8, 2016 order directed plaintiff to address, in the amended complaint, 25 whether the alleged false disciplinary charges resulted in a conviction and what punishment, if 26 any, plaintiff received. Plaintiff’s amended complaint does not address this issue. If plaintiff 27 files a second amended complaint challenging a prison disciplinary conviction, he shall address 28 this issue. 6 1 Accordingly, for the reasons discussed above, plaintiff’s amended complaint is dismissed 2 with leave to amend. If plaintiff files a second amended complaint, he shall address the issues 3 discussed above. 4 Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff’s amended complaint (ECF No. 5 13) is dismissed with leave to file a second amended complaint within thirty days of the date of 6 this order. Failure to file a second amended complaint will result in dismissal of this action. 7 Dated: March 24, 2017 8 9 10 11 12 Wr2054.ame 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 7

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