Yandell v. Cate et al

Filing 26

ORDER DISMISSING CASE, ***Civil Case Terminated. Signed by Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton on 3/6/13. (Attachments: # 1 Certificate/Proof of Service)(nah, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 3/6/2013)

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1 2 3 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 4 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 5 OAKLAND DIVISION 6 7 RONALD YANDELL, 8 Plaintiff, vs. 9 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 12 No. C 10-5811 PJH (PR) ORDER DISMISSING CASE MATHEW CATE, FRANCISCO JACQUEZ, G. D. LEWIS, C. COUNTESS, J. E. PIEREN, D. BARNEBURG, J. L. McKINNEY and G. WILLIAMS, Defendants. 13 / 14 15 This is a civil rights case filed pro se by a state prisoner. The court previously 16 granted defendants’ motion to dismiss and dismissed the majority of plaintiff’s claims with 17 prejudice. Docket No. 21. Plaintiff was provided an opportunity to file a second amended 18 complaint regarding his First and Eighth Amendment claims related to his gang 19 revalidation. Plaintiff has filed a second amended complaint that the court will screen.1 DISCUSSION 20 21 22 A. Standard of Review Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners 23 seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 24 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review the court must identify any cognizable claims, and 25 dismiss any claims which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may 26 be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. at 27 28 1 Plaintiff repeats claims in the second amended complaint that have already been dismissed with prejudice that the court need not address again. 1 1915A(b)(1),(2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police 2 Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). 3 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of 4 the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." "Specific facts are not necessary; 5 the statement need only '"give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . . claim is and the 6 grounds upon which it rests."'" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (citations 7 omitted). Although in order to state a claim a complaint “does not need detailed factual 8 allegations, . . . a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds’ of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' 9 requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. . . . Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) 12 (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is 13 plausible on its face." Id. at 570. The United States Supreme Court has recently explained 14 the “plausible on its face” standard of Twombly: “While legal conclusions can provide the 15 framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are 16 well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine 17 whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 18 1937, 1950 (2009). 19 To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential 20 elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was 21 violated, and (2) that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under the 22 color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). 23 B. Legal Claims 24 In 2010 plaintiff was revalidated as a gang member and continued to reside in the 25 Secured Housing Unit (“SHU”). One of the pieces of evidence used to revalidate plaintiff 26 was a photograph he possessed of an American flag with shamrocks instead of stars. 27 Plaintiff previously conceded that the US flag with shamrocks instead of stars is used by 28 the Aryan Brotherhood, but stated the use of shamrocks is not exclusive to the Aryan 2 1 Brotherhood and is also a symbol of his Irish-American heritage. Docket No. 9 at 9-10. 2 Plaintiff states that being punished for having this image violates the First Amendment. 3 Plaintiff also argues that residing in the SHU has caused physical harm based on the 4 sedentary and solitary lifestyle. Plaintiff only briefly discusses specific harms he suffered 5 stating that he is “suffering from physical injuries including but not limited to disuse atrophy 6 in the back, lower extremity muscles, muscle contractures, accelerated joint deterioration in 7 the hips, and knees, pain, stiffness, anxiety and headaches....” Docket No. 25 at 12. 8 Plaintiff provides no other details regarding his Eighth Amendment claim other than general 9 statements that being placed in the SHU and solitary confinement is detrimental to his 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 health. In the prior complaint and opposition to motion to dismiss, plaintiff cited the First 12 Amendment, but provided little support for this claim and what constituted the First 13 Amendment violation. Similarly, plaintiff also alleged a violation of the Eighth Amendment 14 due to his extended placement in the SHU. Plaintiff generally described that a sedentary 15 lifestyle is not healthy and he is suffering atrophy in the lower extremities, accelerated joint 16 deterioration, stiffness, anxiety and headaches. Plaintiff provided no other details or 17 information and did not describe how any of the named defendants are connected, other 18 than presumably they participated in the revalidation process. Plaintiff was provided an 19 opportunity to amend these claims to set forth additional facts, unfortunately his second 20 amended complaint repeats the same vague and conclusory allegations as the prior 21 complaint. 22 Plaintiff is again informed that the Supreme Court has long recognized that “(l)awful 23 incarceration brings about the necessary withdrawal or limitation of many privileges and 24 rights, a retraction justified by the considerations underlying our penal system.” Price v. 25 Johnston, 334 U.S. 266, 285 (1948) overruled on other grounds; Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 26 817, 822 (1974). “The fact of confinement and the needs of the penal institution impose 27 limitations on constitutional rights, including those derived from the First Amendment, which 28 are implicit in incarceration.” Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners' Labor Union, Inc., 433 U.S. 3 1 119, 125 (1977). While an inmate does retain First Amendment rights that are not 2 inconsistent with his status as a prisoner, a regulation that impinges upon First Amendment 3 rights is valid if it is reasonably related to a legitimate penological interest. Shaw v. 4 Murphy, 532 U.S. 223, 229 (2001). It is clear that prison officials have a “legitimate 5 penological interest in stopping prison gang activity.” Bruce v. Ylst, 351 F.3d 1283, 1289 6 (9th Cir. 2003). As the photograph plaintiff possessed is related to gang activity, 7 defendants had a legitimate reason to confiscate this item, regardless of plaintiff’s intent 8 and if it was only a symbol of his Irish-American heritage. 9 Plaintiff’s claim that he is being denied the right to associate with certain people due to the confiscation of his pictures of the flag also fails. It is well established that the First 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 Amendment right to freedom of association is among the rights least compatible with 12 incarceration, see Overton v. Bazzetta, 539 U.S. 126, 131 (2003), and such right “may be 13 curtailed whenever the institution's officials, in the exercise of their informed discretion, 14 reasonably conclude that such associations ... possess the likelihood of disruption to prison 15 order or stability.” Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners' Labor Union, 433 U.S. 119, 132 16 (1977). It cannot be disputed that the prison has a legitimate interest in preserving the 17 safety of its inmates and staff, which includes preventing gang violence. See Bruce at 18 1289. 19 Moreover, a prison official violates the Eighth Amendment's proscription of cruel and 20 unusual punishment where he or she deprives a prisoner of the minimal civilized measure 21 of life's necessities with a “sufficiently culpable state of mind.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 22 825, 834 (1994). To state such an Eighth Amendment claim, a prisoner must allege facts 23 showing that (1) the defendant prison official's conduct deprived him or her of the minimal 24 civilized measure of life's necessities and (2) that the defendant acted with deliberate 25 indifference to the prisoner's health or safety. Id. 26 While plaintiff has cited the Eighth Amendment and presented a few broad 27 allegations regarding a sedentary lifestyle in the SHU, he has alleged no facts in his second 28 amended complaint that show inhumane or dangerous conditions or that show that any 4 1 defendant acted with deliberate indifference to his health or safety. Simply stating that 2 residing in a cell caused him physical problems without identifying specific defendants or 3 more precise facts concerning the problems is insufficient to state a claim. See Iqbal. 4 The second amended complaint is dismissed without leave to amend as plaintiff has 5 already been provided opportunities to amend and it is clear no amount of amendment will 6 cure the deficiencies the court has repeatedly identified. 7 8 9 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 CONCLUSION The second amended complaint is DISMISSED with prejudice for the reasons set forth above and this case is CLOSED. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: March 6, 2013 12 PHYLLIS J. HAMILTON United States District Judge 13 14 G:\PRO-SE\PJH\CR.10\Yandell5811.dis.wpd 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5

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