Graham v. Santa Cruz Co. Jail et al

Filing 8

ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND. Signed by Magistrate Judge Kandis A. Westmore on 9/24/14. (Attachments: # 1 Certificate/Proof of Service)(sisS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/24/2014)

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1 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 2 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 3 4 5 MATTHEW JAMES GRAHAM, Case No. C 14-2845 KAW (PR) Plaintiff, 6 7 ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND v. SANTA CRUZ COUNTY JAIL, et al., Defendants. 8 9 10 Plaintiff Matthew James Graham, a state prisoner incarcerated at Santa Cruz County Jail United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 (“SCCJ”), has filed a pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging the violation 13 of his constitutional rights by SCCJ and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak. Plaintiff has 14 consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge over this action. 15 Plaintiff has filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) with a completed IFP 16 application, which is granted in a separate order. The Court now addresses the claims asserted in 17 Plaintiff’s complaint. 18 19 20 DISCUSSION I. Standard of Review A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks 21 redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. 22 § 1915A(a). In its review, the court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims 23 that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or seek 24 monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se 25 pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th 26 Cir. 1988). 27 28 To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that 1 the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. 2 Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). Liability may be imposed on an individual defendant under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 if the 3 4 plaintiff can show that the defendant’s actions both actually and proximately caused the 5 deprivation of a federally protected right. Lemire v. Caifornia Dep’t of Corrections & 6 Rehabilitation, 726 F.3d 1062, 1074 (9th Cir. 2013); Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 7 1988); Harris v. City of Roseburg, 664 F.2d 1121, 1125 (9th Cir. 1981). A person deprives 8 another of a constitutional right within the meaning of § 1983 if he does an affirmative act, 9 participates in another's affirmative act or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do, that causes the deprivation of which the plaintiff complains. Leer, 844 F.2d at 633. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 II. 12 Plaintiff’s Claims Plaintiff's brief complaint alleges that, due to overcrowding, the following conditions exist 13 at SCCJ: (1) over fifty-four inmates must use one shower; (2) over 244 inmates must use one 14 toilet; (3) space in the day room, dining room and recreation room has been reduced because 15 additional bunks have been added; and (4) there is no way to dry towels. Plaintiff requests 16 injuctive relief of reducing the jail poplulation to the maximum allowed by state law. 17 The Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons, and overcrowding itself is not a 18 per se violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. See 19 Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 349 (1981); Hoptowit v. Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1249-50 (9th Cir. 20 1982), abrogated on other grounds by Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472 (1995). However, the 21 Constitution is violated when overcrowding results in specific effects forming the basis for an 22 Eighth Amendment violation, such as reduction in services and an increase in violence 23 disproportionate to the simple increase in numbers. Id. at 1249; see Akao v. Shimoda, 832 F.2d 24 119, 120 (9th Cir. 1987) (allegations of increase in stress, tension, communicable diseases, and 25 confrontations between inmates due to overcrowding states 8th Amendment claim). A court may 26 hold jail crowding unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment only if "an individual plaintiff 27 proves that the crowding causes the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment of that inmate." 18 28 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(1). 2 1 Plaintiff's general allegations about overcrowding do not state an Eighth Amendment claim 2 for cruel and unusual punishment due to unsafe prison conditions. However, Plaintiff may be able 3 to allege specific instances in which the overcrowding results in unsafe conditions that affect him 4 directly. Plaintiff is granted leave to add such allegations in an amended complaint. CONCLUSION 5 6 Based on the foregoing, the Court orders as follows: 7 1. The complaint is DISMISSED with leave to amend in accordance with the standards set forth above. The amended complaint must be filed within twenty-eight (28) days of the date this 9 Order is filed and must include the caption and civil case number used in this Order and the words 10 AMENDED COMPLAINT on the first page. Because an amended complaint completely replaces 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 8 the original complaint, Plaintiff must include in it all the claims he wishes to present. See Ferdik 12 v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1262 (9th Cir. 1992). Plaintiff may not incorporate material from the 13 original complaint by reference. Failure to amend within the designated time will result in the 14 dismissal of this action. 15 2. It is Plaintiff's responsibility to prosecute this case. Plaintiff must keep the Court 16 informed of any change of address by filing a separate paper with the clerk headed “Notice of 17 Change of Address,” and must comply with the Court's orders in a timely fashion. Failure to do so 18 may result in the dismissal of this action for failure to prosecute pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil 19 Procedure 41(b). 20 IT IS SO ORDERED. 21 22 23 Dated: 9/24/14 ____________________________________ KANDIS A. WESTMORE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 24 25 26 27 28 3

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