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Demerson v. Warden of SATF

April 30, 2009

EDWARD DEMERSON PLAINTIFF,
v.
WARDEN OF SATF, ET. AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (Doc. 42)

I. SCREENING ORDER

Edward Demerson ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. Plaintiff filed his Complaint on March 6, 2006. (Doc. 1.) Subsequent to both motions for leave to file amend the Complaint (granted prior to screening) and extensions of time to file, on February 8, 2008, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint. (Doc. 42.)

A. 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)).

B. Summary of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint

At the time of the issues complained of in his complaint, Plaintiff was a state prisoner at Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison ("SATF") in Corcoran, California. In his First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff now names nineteen defendants and seeks monetary damages.

Unfortunately, Plaintiff attempts to pursue a number of unrelated claims in his First Amended Complaint -- to wit: (1) a March 18, 2005 incident of provoking a fight amongst inmates and subsequent acts alleged against Defendants Correctional Officers Reyna, Reynoso, and Morgan, Sergeants Curtiss and Padilla, Captain Wan, Lieutenants Odle, Pineda, and Gallagher, MTA Hernandez, Warden Hense, Director Woodford, and Appeals Coordinator N. Grannis (Doc. 42, pp. 9-17); (2) a May 31, 2005 incident of being placed in a stripped cell alleged against Sergeants Davis and Smith, Lieutenants Alva and Beelers, Captain Diaz, and Warden Adams (Id. pp. 18-21); (3) an October 19, 2005 incident of being placed in a stripped cell alleged against Sergeant Munoz (Id. pg. 21); (4) an issue where his terminally ill father was turned away from visiting Plaintiff without specifying which Defendants were responsible (Id. pp. 22-23); (5) exposure to ammonia type chemicals used to mop the floors alleged against Sergeant Davis (Id. pg. 22); and (6) a denial of physical therapy alleged against Sergeant Davis (Id. pg. 23).

" 'A party asserting a claim to relief as an original claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim, may join, either as independent or as alternate claims, as many claims, legal, equitable, or maritime, as the party has against an opposing party.' Thus multiple claims against a single party are fine, but Claim A against Defendant 1 should not be joined with unrelated Claim B against Defendant 2. Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits, not only to prevent the sort of morass [a multiple claim, multiple defendant] suit produce[s], but also to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees-for the Prison Litigation Reform Act limits to 3 the number of frivolous suits or appeals that any prisoner may file without prepayment of the required fees. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g)." George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007) quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 18(a).

Plaintiff's allegations regarding the March 18, 2005 incident of attempting to provoke a fight and subsequent acts alleged against Defendants Correctional Officers Reyna, Reynoso, and Morgan, Sergeants Curtiss and Padilla, Captain Wan, Lieutenants Odle, Pineda, Gallagher, MTA Hernandez, Warden Hense, Director Woodford, and Appeals Coordinator N. Grannis (Doc. 42, pp. 9-17) are related such that, when grouped in one pleading, they do not violate Rule 18(a). These are the only claims the Court will screen in this order. All of Plaintiff's other claims, against all other defendants are not related and are hereby dismissed without prejudice for failing to comply with Rule 18(a). If Plaintiff chooses to pursue his other claims, he must file separate pleadings/complaints for each unrelated claim against different defendants. Further, if Plaintiff feels that he is able to show that any of the other claims raised in his First Amended Complaint are related to the March 18, 2005 incident, such that he should be allowed to pursue them in this action, he should make every effort to show as much in a second amended complaint. However, Plaintiff is advised that if he chooses to file a second amended complaint, and fails to comply with Rule 18(a), the Court will count all frivolous/non-cognizable unrelated claims that are dismissed therein as strikes such that he may be barred from filing in forma pauperis in the future.

As to the March 18, 2005 incident, Plaintiff alleges that, on that date, C/O's Renya and Reynoso and Sgt. Curtiss had Plaintiff placed in the shower while his cell was searched. (Doc. 42, pg. 8.) When Plaintiff returned, he noticed his personal belongings had hardly been touched, but that his cell-mate's possessions were ransacked. (Id. at pg. 8.) C/O Renya told Plaintiff that he was going to tell Plaintiff's "cellie" that his items were ransacked because of Plaintiff. (Id.) C/O Renya told C/O Reynoso to let him out of the section so he could get Plaintiff's "cellie" to deal with Plaintiff. (Id.) C/O Reynoso complied. (Id.) C/O Renya carried out his verbalized intent. (Id. at pg. 9.) Plaintiff's "cellie" returned and, while not yet in the cell, threatened to "kick [Plaintiff's] ass" and told Plaintiff to get out. (Id.) Plaintiff packed his property. (Id.) C/O Reynoso opened the cell door slightly and Plaintiff placed his typewriter and law books out side the cell door. (Id.) C/O Reynoso then closed the cell door from the control tower. (Id.) C/O Reynoso called Sgt. Curtiss who came to the cell and, along with C/Os Renya and Reynoso, heard Plaintiff's "cellie" continue to threaten Plaintiff. (Id.) Sgt. Curtiss told the "cellie" to enter the cell when the door was opened. (Id.) When the door opened Plaintiff's "cellie" entered the cell and Plaintiff exited the cell -- despite C/O Reynoso trying to close the cell door before Plaintiff could exit. (Id.) Sgt. Curtiss told Plaintiff to get back in the cell and Plaintiff refused out of fear. (Id. at pg. 10.) Sgt. Curtiss placed one hand cuff on Plaintiff who refused to give his other arm for cuffing. (Id.) Sgt. Curtiss yanked Plaintiff backwards causing him to fall on one knee. (Id.) Sgt. Curtiss told C/O Renya to take Plaintiff down and both pounced on Plaintiff's back, knee, and neck -- cuffing Plaintiff with additional assistance from C/O Morgan. (Id.) C/O Morgan placed the handcuffs on Plaintiff extremely tight and then yanked up causing extreme pain and causing the cuffs to cut into his wrists. (Id.) Plaintiff advised C/O Morgan that he needed a walker to ambulate, but Sgt. Curtiss said Plaintiff could not have his walker. (Id.) So C/O Morgan drug Plaintiff approximately 100 yards to the office holding cage -- where he was left in the tight cuffs which caused his hands to swell. (Id.) Sgt. Curtiss placed Plaintiff's law books and typewriter back in the cell and allowed his "cellie" to have his way and take whatever he wanted, which amounted to $130-$150 of Plaintiff's personal property. (Id. at pg. 12.)

Later, MTA Hernandez interviewed Plaintiff, and Plaintiff asked for medical attention for his neck, back, wrists, and swollen hands. (Id. at pg. 11.) MTA Hernandez refused to take Plaintiff's vitals or to provide any medical attention or referral. (Id.)

Lt. Odle fabricated a 114 lock-up order and told two C/Os to transport Plaintiff to Ad-Seg -- disregarding Plaintiff's need for medical attention. (Id.) Capt. Wan rewrote the lock-up order contradicting Lt. Odle. (Id.) The next day, while still in Ad-Seg, Plaintiff had to be taken to an institutional hospital to get shots of Toradol for pain. (Id.) Plaintiff was then taken to another Ad-Seg unit and was placed on "Management Cell Status" where he remained for one year and was then taken to the SHU. (Id.) While in Ad-Seg, pending a disciplinary hearing, Sgt. Curtiss, C/O Renya, C/O Reynoso, C/O Morgan, and Lt. Odle conspired and fabricated false disciplinary charges (RVR) for the purpose of covering up their retaliation of excessive force, their staff sponsored gladiator cell fights, and their failure to protect Plaintiff. (Id. at pg. 12.) Sgt. Padilla reviewed the RVR and went along with the "conspiracy in the fabrication of false disciplinary charges." (Id.)

Plaintiff claims that he was wrongfully placed in Ad-Seg and wrongfully placed on Management Cell Status pending the disciplinary hearing. (Id. at pg. 13.) Lt. Pineda was the disciplinary hearing officer, and he denied Plaintiff's requests both to call both Lt. Odle as a witness (for writing a lock up order contrary to Capt. Wan's) and to call an inmate who had "crucial" testimony. (Id.) Lt. Pineda allowed Plaintiff to telephonically call C/O Renya and C/O Reynoso as witnesses, but cut off their testimony and hung up on them as they were about to give testimony that would have favored Plaintiff. (Id.) Lt. Pineda also did not consider the evidence gathered by the "I.E. investigative employee." (Id.) Plaintiff was found guilty and had "time taken" of 150 days and was given a term of 18 months in the SHU, and "two time implemented strip cell status." (Id.)

Plaintiff filed an inmate appeal regarding the whole scenario and was denied at all levels by Lt. Gallagher, Warden L. Hense, Chief I.A. Coordinator N. Grannis, and Director Woodford. (Id. at pp. 13-16.) Plaintiff also alleges that Director Woodford is liable for failing to supervise, train, manage, control, and care for custody of inmates and the inmate appeals process. (Id.)

Plaintiff has stated some cognizable claims, and may be able to amend to correct deficiencies in his pleading so as to state additional cognizable claims. Thus, he is being given the applicable standards based on the March 18, 2005 incident and leave to file a second amended complaint.

C. Claims for Relief

1. Supervisory Liability

Defendants Sergeants Curtiss and Padilla, Captain Wan, Lieutenants Odle, Pineda, Gallagher, MTA Hernandez, Warden Hense, Director Woodford, and Appeals Coordinator N. Grannis all hold supervisory positions.

Supervisory personnel are generally not liable under section 1983 for the actions of their employees under a theory of respondeat superior and, therefore, when a named defendant holds a supervisory position, the causal link between him and the claimed constitutional violation must be specifically alleged. See Fayle v. Stapley, 607 F.2d 858, 862 (9th Cir. 1979); Mosher v. Saalfeld, 589 F.2d 438, 441 (9th Cir. 1978), cert. denied, 442 U.S. 941 (1979). To state a claim for relief under section 1983 based on a theory of supervisory liability, Plaintiff must allege some facts that would support a claim that supervisory defendants either: personally participated in the alleged deprivation of constitutional rights; knew of the violations and failed to act to prevent them; or promulgated or "implemented a policy so deficient that the policy 'itself is a repudiation of constitutional rights' and is 'the moving force of the constitutional violation.'" Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 646 (9th Cir. 1989) (internal citations omitted); Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Although federal pleading standards are broad, some facts must be alleged to support claims under section 1983. See Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 168 (1993).

Plaintiff's allegations as to personal participation in alleged constitutional deprivation(s); knowledge of violations and failure to act to prevent them; or promulgation or "implement[ation] [of] a policy so deficient that the policy 'itself is a repudiation of constitutional rights' and is 'the moving force of the constitutional violation'" (Hansen v. Black at 646) by Sergeants Curtiss and Padilla, Captain Wan, Lieutenants Odle, Pineda, Gallagher, MTA Hernandez, Warden Hense, Director Woodford, and Appeals Coordinator N. Grannis will be discussed in detail in the subsequent sections.

a. Failure to Train

Further, Plaintiff alleges that a number of the defendants failed to properly train subordinates. In City of Canton, Ohio v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378 (1989), the Supreme Court held that, under certain circumstances, a municipality may be held liable based on the failure to train its employees. This Court finds no authority for the extension ofCity of Canton and its progeny to a state prison official being sued in his personal capacity. It appears to this Court, following a review of the relevant case law, that the cases involving failure to train are limited to suits against city and county entities. This is not to say that Plaintiff cannot allege facts involving the failure to train that are sufficient to state a claim under a theory of supervisory ...


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