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Arnold v. Sullivan

January 29, 2009

ROBERT LEE ARNOLD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
W. J. SULLIVAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, WITH LEAVE TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT WITHIN THIRTY DAYS (DOC. 1)

Screening Order

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Robert Lee Arnold ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed this action on May 7, 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 § 1915A9(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 statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds on which it rests." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 12. 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 is a state prisoner at California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi ("Tehachapi") who alleges that Defendant K. Thysen, Correctional Counselor II, and Defendant John Doe erroneously classified him with "R" suffix based on a crime for which Plaintiff was acquitted.*fn1 Plaintiff sought to have the "R" suffix removed from his custody classification, but Defendants refused to remove it. Plaintiff alleges that the erroneous classification deprives him of family visits and the opportunity to participate in various activities, and places him in physical danger from other prisoners. Plaintiff alleges that the erroneous classification violates the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the Eighth Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, a restraining order, and injunctive relief from Defendants W. J. Sullivan, Warden at Tehachapi, K. Thysen and John Doe.

B. Eighth Amendment

1. Conditions of Confinement

Plaintiff alleges that the erroneous classification violates the Eighth Amendment, which protects prisoners from inhumane methods of punishment and from inhumane conditions of confinement. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). Extreme deprivations are required to make out a conditions of confinement claim, and only those deprivations denying the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities are sufficiently grave to form the basis of an Eighth Amendment violation. Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 9 (1992) (citations and quotations omitted). In order to state a claim for violation of the Eighth Amendment, the plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to support a claim that prison officials knew of and disregarded a substantial risk of serious harm to the plaintiff. E.g., Farmer, 511 U.S. at 847; Frost v. Agnos, 152 F.3d 1124, 1128 (9th Cir. 1998).

The assignment of the "R" suffix and the resulting increase in custody status, and elimination of family visitations, opportunities to participate in programs, and privileges are not the type of deprivations sufficiently grave to rise to the level of an Eighth Amendment violation. ...


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