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Buchanan v. Williams

August 25, 2008

WHITTIER BUCHANAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
W.W. WILLIAMS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RE DISMISSAL OF ACTION FOR FAILURE TO STATE A COGNIZABLE CLAIM FOR RELIEF

I. Screening Order

A. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis and pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On October 9, 2007, the Court dismissed plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim and granted plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on November 16, 2007.

The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious," that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),(2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

"Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions," none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Pursuant to Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). "Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. A court may dismiss a complaint only if it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations. Id. at 514. "'The issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims. Indeed it may appear on the face of the pleadings that a recovery is very remote and unlikely but that is not the test.'" Jackson v. Carey, 353 F.3d 750, 755 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)); see also Austin v. Terhune, 367 F.3d 1167, 1171 (9th Cir. 2004) ("'Pleadings need suffice only to put the opposing party on notice of the claim . . . .'" (quoting Fontana v. Haskin, 262 F.3d 871, 977 (9th Cir. 2001))). However, "the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations." Neitze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). "[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled." Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).

B. Plaintiff's Claims

Plaintiff is a state prisoner who was housed at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in Corcoran during the events at issue in this action. The defendants named in this action are Warden Adams; Captain Hansen; Lieutenants Ybarra and Baires; Sergeants Smith and Stohls; and Officers Williams, McGuire, Young and Boozeman. Plaintiff is seeking money damages.

Plaintiff alleges that on September 17, 2005 while in the day room, defendant Williams called his name and motioned for him to come to him to discuss a chess set. Plaintiff alleges that as defendant Williams handed him his chess set, Williams pushed him toward his wheelchair. Plaintiff alleges that when he turned around, he knew by the look on his face that defendant Williams had pushed him. Plaintiff alleges that defendants McGuire and Young were present during the incident. Plaintiff contends Sergeant Smith and Lieutenant Ybarra were the supervising officers on duty at the time.

Plaintiff alleges that despite having been the victim of the assault, as a result of this incident, he was falsely charged with battery on a peace officer and issued a rules violation. Plaintiff alleges he was held in administrative segregation as a result of the false charge. Plaintiff contends that defendants Ybarra, Baires, Boozeman, Hansen and Stohl were involved in covering up the assault and issuing the false rules violation.

1. Due Process Claim

The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides:

Every person who, under color of [state law] . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution . . . shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.

42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. "Section 1983 . . . creates a cause of action for violations of the federal Constitution and laws." Sweaney v. Ada County, Idaho, 119 F.3d 1385, 1391 (9th Cir. 1997) (internal quotations omitted.) "To the extent that the violation of a state law amounts to the deprivation of a state-created interest that reaches ...


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