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Perez v. Clark

February 3, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandra M. Snyder United States Magistrate Judge


Findings and Recommendations Following Screening of Amended Complaint

I. Procedural History

Plaintiff Daniel R. Perez ("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 February 15, 2008. On October 3, 2008, the Court issued an order finding that the complaint stated claims under the Eighth Amendment against Defendants Olmos, Perez, Sanchez, Paz, and Munoz for use of excessive physical force, against Defendant Munoz for the unconstitutional conditions of confinement in cell 232, and against Defendants Marquez, Jimenez, Haines, and Talle for denial of medical care, but did not state any other cognizable claims. Plaintiff was ordered to either file an amended complaint or notify the Court of his willingness to proceed only on the claims found to be cognizable. On November 5, 2008, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint.

II. Screening Requirement

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)).

III. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint

A. Summary of Allegations

Plaintiff is currently housed at Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad. The events giving rise to the claims at issue in this action allegedly occurred at California State Prison-Corcoran. Plaintiff names prison staff members Clark, Roberson, Castello, Silva, Blanks Olmos, Perez, Sanchez, Paz, Munoz, Marquez, Jimenez, Haines, and Talle as defendants, and alleges claims for violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Plaintiff alleges that after refusing to accept a cellmate who was a danger to him, he was placed in cell 232 by Defendant Munoz as punishment. The cell was located in a unit for mental health patients on medication and Plaintiff was subjected to loud banging day and night. Plaintiff alleges that inmates without mental health issues are not supposed to be housed in that unit, and he was unable to sleep, read, or think for many days, which included days he was in court.

On September 28, 2006, after returning from court and refusing to return to cell 232, Plaintiff was told he was going to be placed in a regular administrative segregation unit. After being restrained, Plaintiff realized he was being taken to cell 232 and let his legs go limp. Defendants Olmos, Perez, Sanchez, Paz, and Munoz proceeding to slam him to the ground, beat him, and kick him. Plaintiff alleges that he was taken to a holding cell and Defendant Perez placed the lanyard triangle attached to Plaintiff's handcuffs approximately nine feet in the air, which forced Plaintiff to stand on his toes to avoid tearing his shoulder blades and experiencing even greater pain. Plaintiff alleges that in addition to extreme pain and other injuries, he suffered tendon and ligament damage as a result of the incident.

Plaintiff was subsequently re-housed in cell 117 in the same unit. Plaintiff was placed on management cell status and had only the pair of boxers he was wearing. Plaintiff did not have a mattress, a blanket, clothing, toilet paper, toothpaste, or a toothbrush. Plaintiff alleges his cell was right next to an exterior door that was left open day and night, subjecting him to cold air. Plaintiff was on management cell status for ten days, and during that time, Plaintiff ...

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