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Farha v. Silva

January 12, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Wunderlich United States Magistrate Judge


I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Mauwai Farha ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

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. 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)).

II. Plaintiff's Claims

A. Summary of Complaint

Plaintiff was incarcerated at the California State Prison in Corcoran, California ("Corcoran") at the time the events in his complaint took place. Plaintiff's complaint alleges the use excessive force and denial of medical treatment constituting cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Plaintiff also alleges racial discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff names B. Silva, V. Pierce, Swain, Banks, A. Wimbly, J. Williams, Riddle, and one John Doe as a defendant. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.

Plaintiff's complaint alleges that on May 5, 2004 he was incarcerated in the Administrative Segregation Section at Corcoran. Plaintiff alleges that he was mistreated by prison officials because he is Arab-American. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Swain, Banks and V. Pierce removed him from his cell, placed Plaintiff in a holding cage, and ordered Plaintiff to strip naked. The three defendants laughed at and verbally ridiculed Plaintiff while he was naked. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Pierce ridiculed him by making a statement comparing Plaintiff to an Iraqi prisoner. Fifteen minutes later, Correctional Officer Scott (not named as a defendant) gave Plaintiff his boxers. Several minutes later, the three defendants returned, tightly handcuffed Plaintiff and returned him to his assigned cell with only his boxers on.

Plaintiff flooded his toilet to get the attention of Defendant Sgt. B. Silva. Plaintiff's requests to see the Medical Technical Assistant to look at his hands were refused. Defendants Silva, Swain, Banks and Pierce later searched Plaintiff's cell and confiscated various medications they found.

Later that night, Plaintiff made requests to Defendants Wimbly and Williams for medical attention because he felt suicidal. Plaintiff's requests were denied. Soon after, an unnamed Sergeant (Defendant Doe) approached Plaintiff and ordered him to cuff up. Plaintiff was escorted outside and was allegedly beaten by Defendants Wimbly, Williams, Riddle and the Sergeant (Doe).

B. Eighth Amendment Cruel and Unusual Punishment

The Eighth Amendment prohibits the imposition of cruel and unusual punishments and "embodies 'broad and idealistic concepts of dignity, civilized standards, humanity and decency.'" Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102 (1976) (quoting Jackson v. Bishop, 404 F.2d 571, 579 (8th Cir. 1968)). "[A] prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only when two requirements are met. First, the deprivation alleged must be, objectively, 'sufficiently serious[;]' a prison official's act or omission must result in the denial of 'the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities.' . . . The second requirement follows from the principle that 'only the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain implicates the Eighth Amendment.' To violate the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause, a prison official must have a 'sufficiently culpable state of mind.'" Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994) (citations omitted); see also Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 299-300 (1991) (discussing subjective requirement); Johnson v. Lewis, 217 ...

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