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Fagan v. Fresno County Jail

May 20, 2009

TINSLEY FAGAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FRESNO COUNTY JAIL, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING DEFENDANTS FRESNO COUNTY JAIL, HERR, GIBBS AND ASHIAER FROM ACTION (Doc. 1)

Order Following Screening of Complaint

I. Procedural History

Plaintiff Tinsley Fagan ("Plaintiff") is a federal 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 November 3, 2008. Plaintiff filed consent to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction on December 15, 2008.

On March 24, 2009, the Court issued an order finding that Plaintiff's complaint states cognizable claims against Defendants John Doe 1 (Warden) and John Doe 2 (Captain) regarding the lack of sunlight and fresh air, but does not state any claims against defendants Fresno County Jail, Herr, Gibbs, and Ashiaer. The Court ordered Plaintiff to either file an amended complaint or notify the Court of his willingness to proceed only on the claims found to be cognizable. On April 28, 2009, Plaintiff notified the Court that he does not wish to amend and is willing to proceed on the claims found cognizable. Based on Plaintiff's notice, this Order now issues.

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. Summary of Plaintiff's Complaint

The events giving rise to the claims at issue in this action allegedly occurred at Fresno County Jail in Fresno. Plaintiff alleges a violation of the United States Constitution stemming from his conditions of confinement at Fresno County Jail between February 6, 2008 to September 18, 2008.

Plaintiff alleges that he was transferred to Fresno County Jail from FDC-Dublin, a federal facility, on February 6, 2008 to await criminal charges for aggravated assault on a prison guard. Plaintiff states that he was placed in Special Housing Unit ("SHU") at Fresno County Jail and was confined without any outdoor recreation, sunlight, or fresh air for seven months, until he was transferred out on September 18, 2008. Plaintiff states that he was informed by defendant Ashiaer in March 2008 that high risk inmates were not permitted outdoor recreation, and directed Plaintiff to speak to the block sergeants. Plaintiff states that in April 2008, defendant Block Sergeant Gibbs also informed him that high risk inmates to do not receive outdoor recreation per policy. Plaintiff states that a week later he spoke with defendant Herr, who told Plaintiff to file a grievance. Plaintiff alleges that the policy was established by defendant Warden John Doe and defendant Captain John Doe.

Under section 1983, Plaintiff is required to show that Defendants (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 setting in motion a series of acts by others which the actor knows or reasonably should know would cause others to inflict the constitutional injury.'" Id. (quoting Johnson at 743-44).

The Eighth Amendment protects prisoners from inhumane methods of punishment and from inhumane conditions of confinement. Morgan v. Morgensen, 465 F.3d 1041, 1045 (9th Cir. 2006). 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, 112 S.Ct. 995 (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 v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 847, 114 S.Ct. 1970 (1994); Frost v. Agnos, 152 F.3d 1124, 1128 (9th Cir. 1998).

The Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment only protects convicted prisoners. Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 (1979); Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 395 n.10 (1989). Although the rights of pre-trial detainees are analyzed under the Due Process Clause rather than the Eighth Amendment, ...


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