Almeida v. Ducart et al

Filing 7

ORDER OF SERVICE re 1 Complaint filed by Carlos H. Almeida. Signed by Judge James Donato on 6/27/16. (lrcS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 6/27/2016)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 CARLOS H. ALMEIDA, Plaintiff, 8 9 10 ORDER OF SERVICE v. CLARK E. DUCART, et al., Defendants. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California Case No. 16-cv-02689-JD 12 13 14 Plaintiff, a state prisoner, has filed a pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. DISCUSSION 15 16 STANDARD OF REVIEW 17 Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek 18 redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. 19 § 1915A(a). In its review, the Court must identify any cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims 20 which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek 21 monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. at 1915A(b)(1),(2). Pro se 22 pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep’t, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th 23 Cir. 1990). 24 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement of the 25 claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Although a complaint “does not need detailed 26 factual allegations, . . . a plaintiff’s obligation to provide the ‘grounds’ of his ‘entitle[ment] to 27 relief’ requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a 28 cause of action will not do. . . . Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above 1 the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations 2 omitted). A complaint must proffer “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its 3 face.” Id. at 570. The United States Supreme Court has explained the “plausible on its face” 4 standard of Twombly: “While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they 5 must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court 6 should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement 7 to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). 8 9 10 To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that: (1) a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). United States District Court Northern District of California 11 LEGAL CLAIMS 12 Plaintiff alleges that he was improperly validated as a gang member and placed in the 13 Secure Housing Unit (“SHU”) and improperly retained there. He argues this violated due process, 14 the Eighth Amendment, equal protection, and related state laws. 15 16 Due Process The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects prisoners from being 17 deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 18 539, 556 (1974). The procedural guarantees of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments’ Due 19 Process Clauses apply only when a constitutionally protected liberty or property interest is at 20 stake. See Ingraham v. Wright, 430 U.S. 651, 672-73 (1977). Liberty interests can arise both 21 from the Constitution and from state law. See Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 221 (2005); 22 Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 466 (1983). The Due Process Clause itself does not confer on 23 inmates a liberty interest in avoiding “more adverse conditions of confinement.” Id. The Due 24 Process Clause itself does not confer on inmates a liberty interest in being confined in the general 25 prison population instead of administrative segregation. See Hewitt, 459 U.S. at 466-68. 26 With respect to liberty interests arising from state law, the existence of a liberty interest 27 created by prison regulations is determined by focusing on the nature of the deprivation. Sandin 28 v. Connor, 515 U.S. 472, 481-84 (1995). Liberty interests created by prison regulations are 2 1 limited to freedom from restraint which “imposes atypical and significant hardship on the inmate 2 in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life.” Id. at 484. When conducting the Sandin 3 inquiry, Courts should look to Eighth Amendment standards as well as the prisoners’ conditions of 4 confinement, the duration of the sanction, and whether the sanctions will affect the length of the 5 prisoners’ sentence. See Serrano, 345 F.3d at 1078. The placement of an inmate in the SHU 6 indeterminately may amount to a deprivation of a liberty interest of “real substance” within the 7 meaning of Sandin. See Wilkinson, 545 U.S. at 224. 8 The assignment of validated gang members to the SHU is an administrative measure rather than a disciplinary measure, and is “essentially a matter of administrative segregation.” Bruce v. 10 Ylst, 351 F.3d 1283, 1287 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting Munoz v. Rowland, 104 F.3d 1096, 1098 (9th 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 9 Cir. 1997)). As such, a prisoner is entitled to the minimal procedural protections set forth in 12 Toussaint, such as notice, an opportunity to be heard, and periodic review. Bruce, 351 F.3d at 13 1287 (citing Toussaint, 801 F.2d at 1100). Due process also requires that there be an evidentiary 14 basis for the prison officials’ decision to place an inmate in segregation for administrative reasons. 15 Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455 (1985); Toussaint, 801 F.2d at 1104-05. This standard 16 is met if there is ‘some evidence’ from which the conclusion of the administrative tribunal could 17 be deduced. Id. at 1105. The standard is only “minimally stringent” and the relevant inquiry is 18 whether there is any evidence in the record that could support the conclusion reached by the prison 19 decision-makers. Cato v. Rushen, 824 F.2d 703, 705 (9th Cir.1987). The “some evidence” 20 standard applies to an inmate’s placement in the SHU for gang affiliation. See Bruce, 351 F.3d at 21 1287-88. 22 When a prisoner is placed in administrative segregation, prison officials must, within a 23 reasonable time after the prisoner’s placement, conduct an informal, non-adversary review of the 24 evidence justifying the decision to segregate the prisoner. See Hewitt, 459 U.S. at 476, abrogated 25 in part on other grounds by Sandin, 515 U.S. 472 (1995). The Supreme Court has stated that five 26 days is a reasonable time for the post-placement review. See Hewitt, 459 U.S. at 477. Before the 27 review, the prisoner must receive some notice of the charges and be given an opportunity to 28 respond to the charges. See id. at 476. The prisoner, however, is not entitled to “detailed written 3 1 notice of charges, representation of counsel or counsel-substitute, an opportunity to present 2 witnesses, or a written decision describing the reasons for placing the prisoner in administrative 3 segregation.” Toussaint, 801 F.2d at 1100-01 (citations omitted). After the prisoner has been 4 placed in administrative segregation, prison officials must periodically review the initial 5 placement. See Hewitt, 459 U.S. at 477 n.9. 6 Plaintiff argues that on August 14, 2012, defendants Beeson and Burt improperly validated 7 him as a gang member in violation of due process which resulted in placement in the SHU. He 8 states that defendants Gongora, Neal, Beal and Ducart violated due process by maintaining 9 plaintiff in the SHU as a validated gang member during several classification reviews. These 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 claims are sufficient to proceed. Eighth Amendment The Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons, but neither does it permit 13 inhumane ones. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). The treatment a prisoner 14 receives in prison and the conditions under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under the 15 Eighth Amendment. See Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993). In its prohibition of “cruel 16 and unusual punishment,” the Eighth Amendment places restraints on prison officials, who may 17 not, for example, use excessive force against prisoners. See Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6-7 18 (1992). The Amendment also imposes duties on these officials, who must provide all prisoners 19 with the basic necessities of life such as food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, medical care and 20 personal safety. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 832. 21 A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment when two requirements are met: (1) the 22 deprivation alleged must be, objectively, sufficiently serious, Farmer, at 834 (citing Wilson v. 23 Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991)), and (2) the prison official possesses a sufficiently culpable state 24 of mind, id. (citing Wilson, 501 U.S. at 297). 25 Plaintiff argues that his placement in the SHU for the last four years violated the Eighth 26 Amendment. He states that he has suffered severe mental and physical pain spending twenty-two 27 and a half hours in a windowless cell. This claim is sufficient to proceed. 28 4 Equal Protection 1 2 “The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment commands that no State shall 3 ‘deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,’ which is essentially a 4 direction that all persons similarly situated should be treated alike.” City of Cleburne v. Cleburne 5 Living Center, 473 U.S. 432, 439 (1985) (quoting Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 216 (1982)). 6 7 Plaintiff, who states he is Hispanic, contends that Hispanics are more easily validated as gang members than other races. This claim is sufficient to proceed. Remaining Claims 8 Plaintiff also raises related state claims to the federal claims above which are sufficient to 10 proceed. Plaintiff also names as a defendant, Jeffrey Beard, the former director of the California 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 9 Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Plaintiff argues that he is responsible in his role as 12 a supervisor. 13 Supervisor defendants are entitled to qualified immunity where the allegations against 14 them are simply “bald” or “conclusory” because such allegations do not “plausibly” establish the 15 supervisors’ personal involvement in their subordinates’ constitutional wrong, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 16 675-84 (noting no vicarious liability under Section 1983 or Bivens actions), and unfairly subject 17 the supervisor defendants to the expense of discovery and continued litigation, Henry A. v. 18 Willden, 678 F.3d 991, 1004 (9th Cir. 2012) (general allegations about supervisors’ oversight 19 responsibilities and knowledge of independent reports documenting the challenged conduct failed 20 to state a claim for supervisor liability). So it is insufficient for a plaintiff only to allege that 21 supervisors knew about the constitutional violation and that they generally created policies and 22 procedures that led to the violation, without alleging “a specific policy” or “a specific event” 23 instigated by them that led to the constitutional violations. Hydrick v. Hunter, 669 F.3d 937, 942 24 (9th Cir. 2012). Under no circumstances is there respondeat superior liability under section 1983, 25 which means there is no liability under section 1983 solely because one is purportedly responsible 26 for the actions or omissions of another. See Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). 27 28 This defendant is dismissed from this action because plaintiff has failed to alleged any involvement in the underlying claims. 5 CONCLUSION 1 2 1. The clerk shall issue a summons and the United States Marshal shall serve, without 3 prepayment of fees, copies of the complaint with attachments and copies of this order on the 4 following defendants: J. Beeson and R. Burt, Special Agents at the Office of Correctional Safety 5 in Sacramento, CA; Warden Clark E. Ducart, Assistant Deputy Warden R. Bell, Correctional 6 Counselor D. Gongora and Correctional Counselor B. Neal all at Pelican Bay State Prison. 7 Defendant Beard is dismissed from this action. 8 9 2. In order to expedite the resolution of this case, the Court orders as follows: a. No later than sixty days from the date of service, defendant shall file a motion for summary judgment or other dispositive motion. The motion shall be supported by 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 adequate factual documentation and shall conform in all respects to Federal Rule of Civil 12 Procedure 56, and shall include as exhibits all records and incident reports stemming from the 13 events at issue. If defendant is of the opinion that this case cannot be resolved by summary 14 judgment, he shall so inform the Court prior to the date his summary judgment motion is due. All 15 papers filed with the Court shall be promptly served on the plaintiff. 16 b. At the time the dispositive motion is served, defendant shall also serve, on a 17 separate paper, the appropriate notice or notices required by Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952, 953- 18 954 (9th Cir. 1998) (en banc), and Wyatt v. Terhune, 315 F.3d 1108, 1120 n. 4 (9th Cir. 2003). 19 See Woods v. Carey, 684 F.3d 934, 940-941 (9th Cir. 2012) (Rand and Wyatt notices must be 20 given at the time motion for summary judgment or motion to dismiss for nonexhaustion is filed, 21 not earlier); Rand at 960 (separate paper requirement). 22 c. Plaintiff’s opposition to the dispositive motion, if any, shall be filed with 23 the Court and served upon defendant no later than thirty days from the date the motion was served 24 upon him. Plaintiff must read the attached page headed “NOTICE -- WARNING,” which is 25 provided to him pursuant to Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952, 953-954 (9th Cir. 1998) (en banc), 26 and Klingele v. Eikenberry, 849 F.2d 409, 411-12 (9th Cir. 1988). 27 28 If defendant files a motion for summary judgment claiming that plaintiff failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies as required by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), plaintiff should take 6 1 note of the attached page headed “NOTICE -- WARNING (EXHAUSTION),” which is provided 2 to him as required by Wyatt v. Terhune, 315 F.3d 1108, 1120 n. 4 (9th Cir. 2003). d. 3 4 days after the opposition is served upon him. e. 5 6 7 If defendant wishes to file a reply brief, he shall do so no later than fifteen The motion shall be deemed submitted as of the date the reply brief is due. No hearing will be held on the motion unless the Court so orders at a later date. 3. All communications by plaintiff with the Court must be served on defendant, or 8 defendant’s counsel once counsel has been designated, by mailing a true copy of the document to 9 defendants or defendants’ counsel. 10 4. Discovery may be taken in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. United States District Court Northern District of California 11 No further Court order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(a)(2) is required before the 12 parties may conduct discovery. 13 5. It is plaintiff’s responsibility to prosecute this case. Plaintiff must keep the Court 14 informed of any change of address by filing a separate paper with the clerk headed “Notice of 15 Change of Address.” He also must comply with the Court’s orders in a timely fashion. Failure to 16 do so may result in the dismissal of this action for failure to prosecute pursuant to Federal Rule of 17 Civil Procedure 41(b). 18 19 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: June 27, 2016 20 21 JAMES DONATO United States District Judge 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 7 1 2 NOTICE -- WARNING (SUMMARY JUDGMENT) If defendants move for summary judgment, they are seeking to have your case dismissed. 3 A motion for summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure will, if 4 granted, end your case. 5 Rule 56 tells you what you must do in order to oppose a motion for summary judgment. 6 Generally, summary judgment must be granted when there is no genuine issue of material fact-- 7 that is, if there is no real dispute about any fact that would affect the result of your case, the party 8 who asked for summary judgment is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, which will end your 9 case. When a party you are suing makes a motion for summary judgment that is properly supported by declarations (or other sworn testimony), you cannot simply rely on what your 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 complaint says. Instead, you must set out specific facts in declarations, depositions, answers to 12 interrogatories, or authenticated documents, as provided in Rule 56(e), that contradict the facts 13 shown in the defendant’s declarations and documents and show that there is a genuine issue of 14 material fact for trial. If you do not submit your own evidence in opposition, summary judgment, 15 if appropriate, may be entered against you. If summary judgment is granted, your case will be 16 dismissed and there will be no trial. 17 18 19 20 NOTICE -- WARNING (EXHAUSTION) If defendants file a motion for summary judgment for failure to exhaust, they are seeking to have your case dismissed. If the motion is granted it will end your case. You have the right to present any evidence you may have which tends to show that you did 21 exhaust your administrative remedies. Such evidence may be in the form of declarations 22 (statements signed under penalty of perjury) or authenticated documents, that is, documents 23 accompanied by a declaration showing where they came from and why they are authentic, or other 24 sworn papers, such as answers to interrogatories or depositions. 25 26 If defendants file a motion for summary judgment for failure to exhaust and it is granted, your case will be dismissed and there will be no trial. 27 28 8 1 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 2 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 3 4 CARLOS H. ALMEIDA, Case No. 16-cv-02689-JD Plaintiff, 5 v. CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE 6 7 CLARK E. DUCART, et al., Defendants. 8 9 10 I, the undersigned, hereby certify that I am an employee in the Office of the Clerk, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 That on June 27, 2016, I SERVED a true and correct copy(ies) of the attached, by placing said copy(ies) in a postage paid envelope addressed to the person(s) hereinafter listed, by depositing said envelope in the U.S. Mail, or by placing said copy(ies) into an inter-office delivery receptacle located in the Clerk's office. 16 17 18 Carlos H. Almeida G30247 P.O. Box 7500 Crescent City, CA 95532 19 20 21 Dated: June 27, 2016 22 23 Susan Y. Soong Clerk, United States District Court 24 25 26 27 By:________________________ LISA R. CLARK, Deputy Clerk to the Honorable JAMES DONATO 28 9

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?