United States District Court, N.D. California
October 24, 2005.
ANTONIO JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
ALAMEDA COUNTY, ALAMEDA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, and CALIFORNIA U.S. MARSHALS, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: MAXINE CHESNEY, District Judge
ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND
Plaintiff, an inmate at the Alameda County Jail proceeding pro
se, filed the above-titled civil rights action under
42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleges that while in jail, he was attacked and beaten
by eleven other inmates, and that the defendants failed to
In a separate order filed concurrently herewith, plaintiff has
been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
A. Standard of Review
A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any
case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity
or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the court must identify any cognizable
claims and dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or seek
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.
See id. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings, however, must be
liberally construed. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't,
901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988). 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 the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under
the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48
B. Legal Claim
The Eighth Amendment requires that prison officials take
reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of prisoners. Farmer
v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). In particular, prison
officials have a duty to protect prisoners from violence at the
hands of other prisoners. Id. at 833. The failure of prison
officials to protect inmates from attacks by other inmates or
from dangerous conditions at the prison violates the Eighth
Amendment when two requirements are met: (1) the deprivation
alleged is, objectively, sufficiently serious; and (2) the prison
official is, subjectively, deliberately indifferent to inmate
safety. Id. at 834.*fn1 Thus, the attack plaintiff alleges
herein may have been the result of a constitutional violation.
Plaintiff, however, has not named any individual as a defendant
in his complaint, nor does he allege how any individual(s) caused
him to suffer the deprivations he alleges. See Leer v.
Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988) (holding liability may
be imposed on individual defendant under § 1983 if plaintiff can
show defendant proximately caused deprivation of federally
protected right); see also Chuman v. Wright, 76 F.3d 292,
294 (9th Cir. 1996) (holding defendant cannot be held liable
based on membership in group, absent showing of individual
participation in unlawful conduct). Rather, plaintiff names two
county government entities as defendants, Alameda County and the
Alameda County Sheriff's Department.*fn2 Local governments
are "persons" subject to liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 where
official policy or custom causes a constitutional tort. See
Monell v. Dep't of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978).
Nevertheless, to impose municipal liability under § 1983 for a
violation of constitutional rights, a plaintiff must show: (1)
that the plaintiff possessed a constitutional right of which he or she was deprived; (2) that the municipality
had a policy; (3) that this policy amounts to deliberate
indifference to the plaintiff's constitutional rights; and (4)
that the policy is the moving force behind the constitutional
violation. See Plumeau v. School Dist. #40 County of Yamhill,
130 F.3d 432, 438 (9th Cir. 1997). Here, plaintiff does not
allege that the defendants he named have a policy that was
deliberately indifferent to his constitutional rights, and that
such policy was the moving force behind the constitutional
deprivation he allegedly suffered. Accordingly, plaintiff fails
to state a cognizable claim under § 1983 against the defendants
named in the complaint.
Plaintiff will be given leave to amend the complaint to cure
these deficiencies, if he can do so in good faith.
1. Plaintiff's complaint is DISMISSED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.
Within thirty (30) days of the date this order is filed,
plaintiff may file an AMENDED COMPLAINT correcting the
deficiencies described above. Plaintiff shall include in the
caption both the case number of this action (No. C 05-3367 MMC
(PR)), and the phrase "AMENDED COMPLAINT."
2. The amended complaint supersedes the initial complaint and
may not incorporate by reference any parts of the original
complaint; plaintiff must include in the amended complaint all
the allegations and claims he wishes to present. If plaintiff
fails to timely file an amended complaint in conformity with this
order, the complaint will be dismissed.
3. It is plaintiffs' responsibility to prosecute this case.
Plaintiff must keep the Court informed of any change of address
and must comply with the court's orders in a timely fashion.
Failure to do so may result in the dismissal of this action,
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b), for failure to
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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