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Buchanan v. Santos

May 7, 2009

WHITTIER BUCHANAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
A. SANTOS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER REQUIRING PLAINTIFF EITHER TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT OR TO NOTIFY COURT OF WILLINGNESS TO PROCEED ONLY ON CLAIMS FOUND TO BE COGNIZABLE (DOC. 1) RESPONSE DUE WITHIN THIRTY DAYS

Screening Order

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Whittier Buchanan ("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 August 11, 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 this action. 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 is a state prisoner who was transferred to the Pleasant Valley State Prison on October 23, 2007. While Plaintiff was waiting in the R & R building to be processed into Pleasant Valley, Defendant Santos called Plaintiff's name and took him outside, where Defendant Santos demanded to know what Plaintiff said to Defendant Collins, and said that Defendant Collins told him Plaintiff had gotten smart with her. Defendant Santos then slammed Plaintiff against the wall and told him not to mess with the female guards in Pleasant Valley. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Santos' actions were unjustified. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants McBryde and Duty were aware of Defendant Santos' actions but chose to ignore the incident.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants McBryde and Duty then gave all the newly transferred prisoners a speech telling them not to mess with the women, and not to come to the officers for help if they end up owing others money for bets or drugs. Defendants McBryde and Duty told the newly transferred prisoners to "'suck','fuck', or 'fight'" if they wanted to solve their own debt. (Compl. p.3c.)

Plaintiff alleges that after he submitted an inmate grievance against Defendant Reyes for confiscating Plaintiff's straw hat, other guards who are also members of the Green Wall prison guard gang started to verbally harass Plaintiff as a retaliation for filing an inmate grievance against Defendant Reyes, a member of the Green Wall gang. Plaintiff specifically alleges that Defendants Mendoza and Garrison retaliated against him for filing an inmate grievance against Defendant Reyes.

B. Eighth Amendment

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Santos violated the Eighth Amendment when he slammed Plaintiff into a wall, causing him a lump on his forehand, and warned him against "messing with our women." (Compl. p.3b.) The unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain violates the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause of the Eighth Amendment. Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 5 (1992) (citations omitted). When a prison security measure is undertaken in response to an incident, the question of whether the measures taken inflicted unnecessary and wanton pain and suffering depends on "whether force was applied in a good faith effort to maintain or restore discipline or maliciously and sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm." Id. at 6.

The infliction of pain in the course of a prison security measure "does not amount to cruel and unusual punishment simply because it may appear in retrospect that the degree of force authorized or applied was unreasonable, and hence unnecessary." Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986); see also Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1. Prison administrators "should be accorded wide-ranging deference in the adoption and execution of policies and practices that in their judgment are needed to preserve internal ...


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