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Henslee v. Wilson

August 17, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irma E. Gonzalez, Chief Judge United States District Court


In his Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"), plaintiff Lance R. Henslee makes three claims:

(1) an Eighth Amendment failure to protect claim; (2) an Eighth Amendment excessive force claim; and (3) a First Amendment claim for retaliation. Presently, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiff did not file an opposition and the Court took this matter under submission without oral argument.


I. The Parties

Plaintiff Lance R. Henslee is a California inmate currently incarcerated at High Desert State Prison in Susanville, California. (SAC ¶ 62.) Defendant C. Wilson, John Doe #1 ("Officer Wilson"), John Doe #2, and John Doe #3 reside in San Diego and are employed as a Correctional Officers with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"). (SAC at 2). Defendant V. Sosa ("Sgt. Sosa") resides in San Diego and is employed as a Correctional Sergeant. Id.

II. Factual Background

Plaintiff alleges the following facts. On August 13, 2007, while alone in his cell, Plaintiff called Officer Newsham to report that his cellmate had previously threatened him. Approximately five minutes later, Sgt. Sosa approached Plaintiff's cell and asked him about the problem. Plaintiff reiterated his concern and asked Sgt. Sosa to prevent his cellmate from returning because the cellmate was "acting bizarre" and had threatened Plaintiff. (SAC ¶ 6.) Sgt. Sosa stated he would place Plaintiff's cellmate in a holding cell upon his return, where he would remain until he was rehoused.

Approximately fifteen minutes later, Plaintiff saw Officer Wilson escorting Plaintiff's handcuffed cellmate into the housing unit. Officer Wilson stopped to talk with Sgt. Sosa, shook his head "no" several times, and looked at Plaintiff's cell door. Officer Wilson grabbed Plaintiff's cellmate and walked him over to the cell while Sgt. Sosa and four other officers watched from their posts. When they reached the cell door, Officer Wilson told Plaintiff to "cuff-up."*fn1 (SAC ¶ 16.) In response, Plaintiff informed Officer Wilson of his prior conversation with Sgt. Sosa and voiced his concern that his cellmate's return would spark serious violence. Officer Wilson told Plaintiff to go to the back of the cell or Wilson would enter the cell to fight him.

Plaintiff, uncuffed, walked to the back of the cell and Officer Wilson motioned the tower officer to open the cell door. As the cell door opened, Plaintiff again asked Officer Wilson not to put his cellmate back in the cell. Officer Wilson told Plaintiff to sit at the rear of the cell. Officer Wilson maneuvered Plaintiff's cellmate into the cell and told the tower to close the door.

Fearing for his safety, Plaintiff waited until the door was closed and then immediately pinned his cellmate to the door to prevent Officer Wilson from removing his handcuffs through the food tray port. Officer Wilson asked the tower officer to open the door. As the cell door was opening, Plaintiff released his cellmate and returned to the rear of the cell. Officer Wilson removed the cellmate, sprayed Plaintiff with pepper-spray, and informed Plaintiff of his intention to write him up for battery of an inmate. Officer Wilson took the cellmate to a holding cell where the cellmate was kept until he was rehoused.

Officer Wilson returned and verbally threatened neighboring inmates against being witnesses for Plaintiff. Thereafter, Officer Wilson allegedly threatened Plaintiff against filing a complaint and said "things could get a lot worse if [Plaintiff] pursued the matter." (SAC ¶ 39.) While passing out dinner trays that evening, Officer Wilson allegedly removed most of the food from Plaintiff's tray and asked Plaintiff how he liked the "diet tray." (SAC ¶ 40.) Officer Wilson then came to Plaintiff's cell door holding a letter and told Plaintiff "he was sending [Plaintiff's] letter back to the mailroom and that [Plaintiff] would not be receiving anything while he was working." (SAC ¶ 41).

On August 14, 2007, Plaintiff filed a staff complaint against Sgt. Sosa and Officer Wilson, alleging a failure to protect and excessive force. On August 22, 2007, the prison conducted an Institutional Classification Committee Hearing. (SAC ¶ 55-57). Officer Wilson escorted Plaintiff to the hearing and told Plaintiff "he did not want to hear [Plaintiff] say his name at all." (SAC ¶ 57). Officer Wilson threatened to withhold evening meals, showers, and mail. Id. After the hearing, Officer Wilson escorted Plaintiff back to Building 7, made sure Plaintiff missed his shower, gave Plaintiff a "diet tray," and withheld Plaintiff's mail. (SAC ¶ 58).

Subsequently, Chief Deputy Warden Silva Garcia ordered Plaintiff be rehoused at a different facility. (SAC ΒΆ 59). When Plaintiff received his property after his move to Facility 3, Plaintiff's T.V. was stolen and ...

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