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Dodds v. Lascano

September 25, 2009


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


Screening Order

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Jaymar Dodds ("Plaintiff"), a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on April 13, 2009. 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).

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)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusion are not. Id. at 1949.

II. Summary of Plaintiff's Claims

Plaintiff brings this action for violation of the First, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. Plaintiff names Sgt. E. Lascano, Lt. J. Hamlin, Correctional Officer

B. Williams and Correctional Officer M. Rivera as defendants

A. Eighth Amendment - Conditions of Confinement

The events giving rise to this action allegedly occurred at Kern Valley State Prison ("KVSP"), where Plaintiff is presently incarcerated. Plaintiff alleges that on November 1, 2007, a cell search was conducted at KVSP. Plaintiff alleges that defendants Lascano, Williams and Rivera ordered Plaintiff from his cell. Plaintiff alleges that he was drugged/dragged in front of the unit counselor's office, and ordered strip searched while others were present. Plaintiff alleges that defendant Lascano authorized defendants Williams and Rivera to confiscate Plaintiff's bed linens, clothing, legal property, and personal property. Plaintiff alleges that he was subsequently informed by prison staff that his property was under investigation and would not be immediately returned. Plaintiff contends that he was left in his cell for five or six days without a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap or his personal property. Plaintiff contends that he suffered from cold temperatures without state-issued clothing and bed linens. Plaintiff alleges that he informed defendants Lascano and Williams of the problems but they did nothing to assist him.

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).

Plaintiff's allegations that defendants Williams and Lascano were involved in the confiscation of his clothing, bed linens and personal hygiene items, and knew of Plaintiff's complaints and failed to do anything, are sufficient to state a claim against them for violation of the Eighth Amendment. However, Plaintiff fails to state a cognizable Eighth Amendment claim against defendant Rivera. Defendant Rivera's role in confiscating Plaintiff's property, without more, does not sufficiently demonstrate that he knew of and disregarded an excessive risk to Plaintiff's health or safety. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837.

B. Fourth and Eighth Amendments - Strip Search

It is not clear whether Plaintiff is further alleging that the body cavity search, conducted in the view of a female staff member and other inmates, impinged ...

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