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Hall v. Pliler

July 9, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Craig M. Kellison United States Magistrate Judge


Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court is defendants' motion for summary judgment (Doc. 72).*fn1


A. Plaintiff's Allegations

This action proceeds on plaintiff's original complaint. Plaintiff does not set forth any specific constitutional claims but, rather, outlines in mostly chronological order a series of factual allegations. One paragraph of the complaint, however, appears to be a general statement of the nature of his claims. Plaintiff states:

I've never filed a lawsuit before*fn2 and I'm having a hard time trying to hold my emotions in check with regards to civil service employees premeditated and sophisticated malice and inhumane treatment they are subjecting me to, and I've only been convicted of a petty theft of two coffee jars with a total cost of $9.98 and these people (staff) are committing [sic] a federal offense against me, by conspiracy under the color of law, and they have wage an attack knowingly with so many staff to seek the advantage to oppress my rights, confronting me with so many and numerous acts of misconduct that the writing of this civil rights complaint with details to me the criteria for the court to take action because I'm a victim of crimes pursuant to federal laws and state laws by prison staff. I need "HELP" just to get this complaint filed right, so they (staff) don't get away with their crimes against me and the laws of the legal community or courts or laws of land....(emphasis in original).

Plaintiff states that he arrived at California State Prison -- Sacramento ("CSPSac.") on May 31, 2001. According to plaintiff, upon his arrival be was mistreated by correctional officers. Specifically, he claims that officer Andrade placed handcuffs on him too tight causing him to "cry[] out loud in pain for four hours."*fn3 He also claims that officers Matthews, Turner, Villasenor, Ranzany, Ugalino, and Gonzales harassed him by denying him food and showers, and by "opening and closing my cell door continually" and "coming by my cell door whispering threats."*fn4 He also alleges that these officers made "fraudulent and false disciplinary allegations to make my time of imprisonment longer." Plaintiff further asserts that these officers sent "prison gang members to my cell door trying to intimidate me and terrorize me by try to pick a fight with me...." He states that the officers acted "in retaliation for me filing inmate appeals on staff."

Plaintiff alleges that he sent a "formal complaint CDC 602 and cover letter" to the prison warden, C. Pliler, on June 3, 2001. He states that this complaint was "obstructed from being process by D. Kimbrell...." Plaintiff then sent warden Pliler another grievance on June 6, 2001, outlining "inhumane mistreatment, conspiracy to deprive rights, threats of violence, racism" and other alleged staff misconduct. Plaintiff claims that "C. Pliler, warden, did nothing whatsoever to alleviate or even address the life threatening serious condition of my confinement by any conventional means to address my concerns...."

Next, plaintiff alleges that, on June 13, 2001, he was assigned to be housed in the general population "for the sole purpose to have me attacked." He states that this assignment was made notwithstanding his having submitted "formal letters to the warden and [classification] committee members" regarding alleged staff misconduct and safety concerns.

Plaintiff states that "during this period of time" there was a lock-down of "more than half of the African American inmates on Facility C-Yard" due to "staff assaults on inmates or inmates and staff fights." He states that he was "one of the few African Americans not on lock-down." According to plaintiff, on June 18, 2001, correctional officer Matthews ordered him transferred to "the Block where the violent incidence with staff happen." Plaintiff states that he refused to be transferred and that "the same day, some staff I did not know came to my cell saying 'you're going to get it!'" Plaintiff adds: "That evening C/O Gonzales... alleged fraudulently that I was masturbating to get [me] removed and placed in administrative segregation." He states that he was placed in a "holding cage" but was later released back to his cell after "Sgt. Featherly determined that the allegations was false...."*fn5 Plaintiff claims that ultimately he was placed in administrative segregation on June 20, 2001, because he submitted an inmate grievance "to expose the prostitution racket by staff that flourish... by a code of silence and secrecy."

According to plaintiff, between June 20, 2001, and July 25, 2001, officer Ranzany "came to Facility-A ad. seg. and threaten me, making his finger like a gun and pointing it at me." Plaintiff states that he sent "another complaint" to the warden the following day. Plaintiff adds: "All the time custody staff was manipulating to some degree mental health staff to provide them a cover." He alleges that mental health staff were "manipulated to write very fraudulent and false mental health records documentations." He states that he filed "a number of complaints" against mental health personnel. Plaintiff claims that, as warden, Pliler is responsible for his custody yet "allowed false and fraudulent documents to be produce by mental health staff against my right to refuse, denying me equal protection and due process intentionally." He states that he submitted an inmate grievance on June 2, 2001, documenting his claims related to mental health documents.

Plaintiff claims that, on June 6, 2001, a prison psychiatrist, Dr. Johnson, "wrote a false and fraudulent record that I was hostile, angry, belligerent." Plaintiff states that he "has only said very kindly that I did not want to talk to him and I have a right to refuse according to CDC rules and regulations." He states that he wrote a letter to the chief psychiatrist, Dr. Peterson, regarding the problem but that Dr. Peterson "used this as an opportunity to attack me" and responded by saying that plaintiff is having difficulty organizing his thoughts. According to plaintiff, on June 13, 2001, a prison psychologist, Dr. Shoemaker, "initially wrote somewhat the truth of what took place" but that the doctor "would later go and back-date and add documents that I displayed paranoid thoughts...." (emphasis in original). Plaintiff states that he submitted his "third complaint" regarding these issues on June 20, 2001.

Next, plaintiff states that, on June 27, 2001, Dr. Clavere, a prison psychologist, and G. Phillippi, a licensed clinical social worker, "sign and falsified fraudulent documents to assign me to a mental health enhance Outpatient Program (EOP)." (emphasis in original). He claims that "[t]his was all a cover-up... because of me exercising my rights to complaint [sic] about the corruption, violence, and prostitution racket by CDC civil service employees...." He adds that Dr. Kelly, the chief prison psychologist, was an "active participant." Plaintiff states that he never demonstrated any behavior to warrant an EOP placement.

Continuing his allegations relating to mental health care, plaintiff claims that, on July 4, 2001, he filed a "complaint" with the Sacramento County Superior Court "regarding the criminal activities at CSP-Sacramento by mental health staff and custody staff." He adds that, though the "complaint," which was filed as a petition for writ of habeas corpus, was denied, on July 10, 2001, he was removed from the "EOP fraudulent assignment but not the unit or mental health." According to plaintiff, on July 19, 2001, Dr. Baxter, another prison psychologist, betrayed his trust by falsely reporting that plaintiff suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder and that he was manic depressive. Plaintiff states that, on July 29, 2001, he conducted an "Olson" review of his mental health file where he requested copies of documents. He states that the documents he received were back-dated and fraudulent.

Plaintiff states that, on August 8, 2001, he "finally manage to get a CSP-Sacramento investigation interview." He claims that, after this interview, officer Rogel said "Now we gone put a knot on your head," and officer Lord said "We gone get your ass when you go to GP." He alleges that, on August 24, 2001, he was transferred to a facility in Los Angeles on "out-to-court" status where he was attacked by another inmate.

Next, plaintiff alleges that, on October 14, 2001, he was denied a shower by officer Smith.*fn6 He also claims that, on December 15, 2001, officer Smith "put foreign particles in my food that would choke me." He adds that officer Smith "made threats and harass me between these two dates." Plaintiff states that, on October 24, 2001, officer Shrode told plaintiff "We'll get you, you are by yourself" and, while the officer was walking away, he added: "We gone kill that bastard." According to plaintiff, on November 2, 2001, officers Chastain and Mini "sign fraudulent and false documents to sent me to Facility B, by deliberate indifference and totally a reckless disregards for my health and safety to set the stage for me to be assaulted or murdered, because I went on tape about staff and inmates attempts and threats on my life...."*fn7

Plaintiff states that he received "another fraudulent and false reviews of guilty findings for not following a order to go to A-Yard on Nov. 28, 2001."*fn8 He alleges that, on January 31, 2002, associate warden Chastain and officers Martel and Mini "again with deliberate indifference and totally reckless disregards for my health and safety sign fraudulent documentations and record to remove me from Ad. Seg. and send me back to C-Yard for the sole purpose to bring about my murder or assault in retaliation for all my writing and complaints on staff misconduct." He states that "[e]ven Capt. Mandeville provided a false... report that does not address, nor cover the true risk, especially threats by Sgt. Rogel and Sgt. Murphy and controlled inmate(s) element."*fn9

Next, plaintiff states that, on December 2, 2001, "the same C/O Gonzales that I wrote a complaint about making false allegations of masturbation to Sgt. Featherly on June 19, 2001,... found her way from C-Yard to A-Yard and to my Ad. Seg. unit by the support of Lt. Gold and other staff, and wrote a fraudulent allegation of masturbation to turn my lock-up to take time from me." Plaintiff claims that officer Gold denied him the opportunity to call a witness at a rules violation hearing resulting from the December 2, 2001, rules violation. He adds that associate warden Goughnour "upheld the due process violation and fraudulent report."

Turning back to his claims relating to documents in his mental health file, plaintiff states that, on December 10, 2001, "P. Vancor, heath care analyst, provided my first level review, and gave me a false disposition to my mental health appeal, protecting staff and denied the appeal...."*fn10 He states that he sent a "third or fourth complaint to the medical board of California." According to plaintiff, on January 5, 2002, "Dr. M. Jaffe, chief psychiatrist, did the same thing at the second level review as P. Vancor did at the first level of review...." Plaintiff states that, on January 15, 2002, Dr. Ewing, a staff psychiatrist, "wrote a fraudulent assessment that I had antisocial personality disorder." Plaintiff adds that he continued to refuse mental health services and that, on January 23, 2002, Dr. Judy Ringerson, an outside psychologist, removed plaintiff's name from the mental health program. He claims that "[a]fter the first hour of talking to me she said she's removing me from the program."

Next, plaintiff returns to his allegations regarding his being ordered to return to the general population despite risks to his safety. He claims that, on January 31, 2002, officer May ordered him to return to the general population and threatened him with a rules violation charge if he did not comply.*fn11 Plaintiff did not comply and officer May charged him with a rules violation. Plaintiff states that this rules violation was "classified" by officer Schroeder, he was found guilty by officer Johnson, and the finding was upheld by officers Connor and associate warden Goughnour.*fn12 Plaintiff states that he was placed in administrative segregation as a result of this violation and that such placement was in violation of his due process rights because he "never received a CDC-114 lock-up order." He states that he was in administrative segregation from January 31, 2002, through March 12, 2002, without an appropriate lock-up order.

Adding to his claims about grievances filed concerning mental health issues, plaintiff alleges that, on February 2, 2002, officer Vancor and Dr. Whelan, a prison psychologist, "denied another appeal I had on all mental health staff in my case."*fn13 Plaintiff adds the following regarding his retaliation claims:

On 2-28-02, the retaliation continued for trying to exercise my rights to utilize the inmate appeal system, guards terrorized me, c/o Minyard said "Hall, think, we'll get you!" C/O Minyard was as serious as a heart attack.

He alleges that, on March 3, 2002, officer Ash was "again hitting his hands like he was stabbing somebody while looking at me with mad expression," and that, "[o]n or about 3-24-02, C/O Minyard said 'I'll have the Mexicans stab you!'"*fn14

The remainder of plaintiff's allegations, which cover the period from March 18, 2002, through July 15, 2002, do not relate to correctional staff who were named as defendants in the complaint.

These allegations appear to give rise to, at best, the following claims: (1) violation of the Eighth Amendment based on denial of food and showers; (2) violation of the Eighth Amendment based on returning plaintiff to the general population in disregard for plaintiff's safety; (3) violation of the Eighth Amendment based on handcuffs being put on too tightly; (4) violations of due process relating to disciplinary proceedings; and (5) retaliation. Plaintiff also alleges numerous facts regarding "fraudulent and false" documents placed in his mental health file which resulted in improper EOP and/or CCCMS classification and unwanted mental health treatment. The court finds that such allegations do not state any cognizable claim under § 1983 because plaintiff does not have any right to a particular classification. See Moody v. Daggett, 429 U.S. 78, 88 n.9 (1976); Frost v. Agnos, 152 F.3d 1124, 1130 (9th Cir. 1998); Duffy v. Riveland, 98 F.3d 447, 457 (9th Cir. 1996); Hernandez v. Johnston, 833 F.3d 1316, 1318 (9th Cir. 1987).

Plaintiff also does not state any cognizable claim based on his generalized allegations of a conspiracy. Such allegations are conclusory and vague in that plaintiff has not alleged any particular agreement among any particular defendants to violate his constitutional rights. Plaintiff uses the word "conspiracy" in passing throughout the complaint, but does not offer any factual allegations to establish that defendants conspired to violate his rights. Plaintiff's conclusory allegation of a conspiracy is insufficient. See Price v. Hawai'i, 939 F.3d 702, 708-09 (9th Cir. 1991).

B. The Parties' Evidence

Defendants admit the allegations in the complaint that they were employed in the following capacities during the times relevant to this case:

Prison Administrators Pliler, Rosario, Stiles, and Goughnour Facility Captains Vance and Connor Correctional Lieutenants Gold and Kimbrell*fn15 Correctional Sergeants Rogel and Murphy Correctional Officers Ranzany, Ugalino, Shrode, and Lord Mental Health Staff Ewing, Kelly, Clavere, Shoemaker, Baxter, Dr. Johnson, Peterson, Jaffe, and Phillippi Defendants outline facts in three categories -- (1) "Hall's Incarceration at CSPSac."; (2) "Hall's Mental health Treatment at CSP-Sac."; and (3) "Administrative Grievances" -- as follows:

Incarceration at CSP-Sac.

1. On June 15, 2001, officer Villasenor charged plaintiff with a rules violation for disobeying two orders to return to his cell and then becoming argumentative with staff;

2. On June 20, 2001, plaintiff reported to staff that his safety might be in jeopardy if he remained in the C-Facility General Population;

3. In response to this complaint, plaintiff was placed in administrative segregation for his safety and an investigation was ordered;

4. A hearing on plaintiff's rules violation was held on July 11, 2001, and plaintiff was found guilty;*fn16

5. On July 12, 2002, plaintiff was charged with another rules violation for refusing to relinquish his food tray when ordered to do so;

6. A disciplinary hearing on this rules violation was held on August 8, 2001, and plaintiff was found guilty;

7. On August 15, 2001, plaintiff was interviewed by an investigating officer in relation to plaintiff's report of June 20, 2001;

8. The investigating officer reported the following: On August 15, 2001, I conducted an audio/video interview with HALL. He stated he arrived via special transport on May 31, 2001, from California State Prison -- Los Angeles (LAC). HALL conveyed since his arrival, he has realized staff at SAC are involved in corruption, organized crime, and a plot to murder him. HALL came to this conclusion based on his prior reports of staff misconduct while housed at other institutions, and he believes all the institutions are working together as a tag team against him.

HALL further stated when staff spoke to him, they pointed their index finger towards him with their thumb upward. HALL interpreted this as a threat because the hand gesture resembled a gun. In addition, staff would tell him to go to bed, and he felt very disrespected because he is 42 years old.

HALL was only assigned to B-Block approximately one month before he was placed in Ad/Seg. While HALL was housed in the block, Officer Rafferty escorted a Psychologist to HALL's cell on several occasions because of his bizarre behavior. HALL was uncooperative and would yell at the Psychologist stating he would sue everyone. According to Officer Rafferty, the other inmates would not socialize with HALL because he was very loud and acted very bizarre.

A subsequent review of HALL's central file indicates he is non-affiliated with a history of non-complying behavior. HALL's disciplinary history overview consists of a 5-month Security Housing Unit (SHU) term for Threat of Force and Violence to Non-Inmate, Disrespect Towards Staff, Indecent Exposure/Masturbation (3 RVR's noted), Assault on Non-Inmate w/o SBI -- 12-month SHU term served, Disobeying Orders, and Refusing to Relinquish a Food Tray. According to his CDC 812, there are no listed enemies or confidential information.

HALL may have mental health issues. As HALL stated during the interview, he admits things may mean something different, but it is his interpretation of situations that causes him to react. It is my recommendation that Mental Health staff continue to closely monitor HALL's behavior, and he is referred to Institutional ...

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