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Cramer v. Schwarzenegger

March 2, 2009

MATTHEW B. CRAMER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, DEFENDANT.



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 Matthew B. Cramer ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 12132 (Americans with Disabilities Act) and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed this action on June 16, 2008.

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

Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi. The only defendant named in the complaint is Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Plaintiff alleges discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. As relief, Plaintiff seeks recognition by the Court of the potential discrimination.

The basis for Plaintiff's claims is the ineligibility of disabled inmates to qualify for conservation camp work assignments. Inmates assigned to conservation camps in Work Group F earn two days credit for every day of qualifying performance. Cal. Code Regs., tit. 15 § 3044(b)(1) (West 2009). Plaintiff alleges he is being discriminated against on the basis of his age and disability because he is not eligible for conservation camp placement and would like to earn two-for-one credits.

A. ADA Claim

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) "prohibit[s] discrimination on the basis of disability." Lovell v. Chandler, 303 F.3d 1039, 1052 (9th Cir. 2002). "To establish a violation of Title II of the ADA, a plaintiff must show that (1) [he] is a qualified individual with a disability; (2) [he] was excluded from participation in or otherwise discriminated against with regard to a public entity's services, programs, or activities; and (3) such exclusion or discrimination was by reason of [his] disability." Lovell, 303 F.3d at 1052.

Plaintiff may be able to state a claim based on his exclusion from placement at a conservation camp as a result of his disability. However, Title II applies to public entities and Plaintiff has not named the public entity allegedly responsible for discriminating against him as a defendant. Because Plaintiff has not linked his claim to a proper defendant, he fails to state a claim.

B. Equal Protection Claim

Under section 1983, Plaintiff is required to show that the defendant(s) (1) acted under color of state law, and (2) committed conduct which deprived Plaintiff of a federal right. Hydrick v. Hunter, 500 F.3d 978, 987 (9th Cir. 2007). "A person deprives another of a constitutional right, where that person 'does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts, or omits to perform an act which [that person] is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made.'" Id. at 988 (quoting Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978)). "[T]he 'requisite causal connection can be established not only by some kind of direct, personal participation in the deprivation, but also by ...


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