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Jones v. Huckabay

June 9, 2009


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


(Doc. 1)

Screening Order

Plaintiff Brian Jones 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 his complaint on March 24, 2008.

I. 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, supra, 534 U.S. at 512. A court may dismiss a complaint only if it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations. Id. at 514. "'The issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims. Indeed it may appear on the face of the pleadings that a recovery is very remote and unlikely but that is not the test.'" Jackson v. Carey, 353 F.3d 750, 755 (9th Cir. 2003), quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); see also Austin v. Terhune, 367 F.3d 1167, 1171 (9th Cir. 2004) ("'Pleadings need suffice only to put the opposing party on notice of the claim . . . .'"), quoting Fontana v. Haskin, 262 F.3d 871, 977 (9th Cir. 2001). However, "the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations." Neitzke 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 Claim

A. Summary of Complaint

Before being transferred to Pleasant Valley State Prison ("PVSP"), Plaintiff, now a resident of the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility ("SATF"), had completed the General Educational Development diploma ("GED") and vocational training in meat cutting and graphic arts, earning certificates of completion in each. Accordingly, upon arrival at PVSP, Plaintiff requested a support services assignment in lieu of additional vocational training but was assigned to kitchen support services pending an opening in graphic arts training. Ultimately, Plaintiff was assigned to graphic arts training despite both his protests that he had previously completed the program and the instructor's repeated requests that Plaintiff be returned to a support services position. Plaintiff filed a grievance but was ultimately reassigned to graphic arts training on March 15, 2006. When Plaintiff protested that he had previously completed that training sequence, he was placed on "C-status," which resulted in confiscation of Plaintiff's personal property and suspension of various institutional privileges.

On March 18, 2006, Plaintiff received a newly purchased television. On March 29, 2006, Defendant Diaz directed Plaintiff to sign paperwork deducting funds from Plaintiff's trust account to ship the television home. Diaz denied Plaintiff's request that his television be stored pending resolution of his then-pending inmate appeal and demanded that Plaintiff surrender the television. Plaintiff retreated to his cell, covering the windows and refusing to come out or uncover until he had an opportunity to speak to the on-duty lieutenant.

One hour later, Defendants Diaz, Huckabay, Soares and Dutcher appeared at Plaintiff's cell and demanded Plaintiff's television. Plaintiff refused to surrender the television until he was allowed to speak to a lieutenant. Defendant Huckabay advised Plaintiff that he would not be permitted to speak with a lieutenant and would be beaten if he did not surrender the television within thirty seconds. Huckabay ordered Defendant Hasseltine, the control booth officer, to open Plaintiff's cell and ordered Plaintiff to be handcuffed. When Plaintiff again requested the lieutenant, Soares sprayed Plaintiff's facer with pepper spray. Plaintiff then knelt, back to the officers, to be handcuffed, but was pulled from his cell, stomped, kicked, and beaten with batons.

Plaintiff incurred a broken nose, chipped teeth, a broken tooth, multiple lacerations to his face and head, lacerations to both elbows, bruising over the kidney area, spinal cord injury, and nerve damage to both wrists. As a result, he experiences severe physical pain, ...

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