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Williams v. California Dep't of Corrections and Rehabilitation

June 19, 2009

JOHN WESLEY WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gregory G. Hollows United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se. He seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and has requested authority pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 to proceed in forma pauperis. This proceeding was referred to this court by Local Rule 72-302 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

Plaintiff has submitted a declaration that makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Accordingly, the request to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted.

Plaintiff is required to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for this action. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a), 1915(b)(1). Plaintiff is currently without funds. Accordingly, the court will not assess an initial partial filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Plaintiff is obligated to make monthly payments of twenty percent of the preceding month's income credited to plaintiff's prison trust account. These payments shall be collected and forwarded by the appropriate agency to the Clerk of the Court each time the amount in plaintiff's account exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee is paid in full. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

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).

A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). The court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis. See Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989); Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.

A complaint must contain more than a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action;" it must contain factual allegations sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007). "The pleading must contain something more...than...a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action." Id., quoting 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure 1216, pp. 235-235 (3d ed. 2004). In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Rex Hospital Trustees, 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976), construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969).

This is plaintiff's eleventh civil rights complaint since 2005. Plaintiff's complaint contains more than 200 pages including exhibits. Plaintiff, an inmate with a self described psychiatric disability, alleges that the fourteen defendants all conspired to deprive him of his constitutional rights. As with plaintiff's other complaints, he seems to believe that any prison decision concerning him, is in retaliation for filing grievances and lawsuits. Plaintiff alleges that on August 11, 2006, Leiber, Holmes and Baughman retaliated against plaintiff for legal activity and transferred him to administrative segregation. On August 17, 2006, plaintiff alleges that Ramos, Mendoza, Lopez and Leach were deliberately indifferent under the Eighth Amendment, by not taking any action when plaintiff threatened to commit suicide. When, a short while later, plaintiff cut his own wrists, the defendants did not timely obtain medical assistance for plaintiff.

Plaintiff accuses Mendoza of destroying his personal property when plaintiff was in the medical center on August 18, 2006. Plaintiff also contends that Baughman handcuffed and placed him in a holding cell for several hours without water, medication or a bathroom break and plaintiff was forced to stand for more than 90 minutes despite leg problems and Baughman never obtained medical treatment for plaintiff. On January 8, 2007, plaintiff alleges that Crane vandalized his cell and stole his postal stamps.

Plaintiff contends that Grannis conspired under the code of silence by rejecting all of plaintiff's grievances and appeals. Plaintiff alleges Hutchinson attempted to provoke plaintiff with a menacing look and stance and then called him names. Plaintiff alleges that all defendants conspired in the above actions as part of the code of silence. Plaintiff states that a "conclave" was held in 2007, with several of the defendants present, to discuss the conspiracy. Plaintiff also claims that several of the defendants repeatedly harassed and annoyed him, by calling him names.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 18(a) provides: "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." George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). "Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits[.]" Id.

It is true that Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a) provides that "[a]ll persons...may be joined in one action as defendants if there is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative, any right to relief in respect of or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences and if any question of law or fact common to all will arise in the action." However, "[a] buckshot complaint that would be rejected if filed by a free person--say, a suit complaining that A defrauded the plaintiff, B defamed him, C punched him, D failed to pay a debt, and E infringed his copyright, all in different transactions -- should be rejected if filed by a prisoners." Id. at 607.

As described above, plaintiff's complaint includes many unrelated claims against more than a dozen defendants. Pursuant to George v. Smith, supra, plaintiff may not proceed with these unrelated claims regarding different defendants in this action. Accordingly, the complaint is dismissed with leave to amend, within thirty (30) days. An amended complaint should include related claims only. Failure to file an amended complaint will result in an order dismissing these defendants from this action.

The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides as follows: Every person who, under color of [state law]... subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States... to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution... shall be liable to the party ...


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