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Corona v. Knowles

November 4, 2009

MARIA DEL ROSARIO CORONA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MIKE KNOWLES, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT

(Document 42)

Plaintiff Maria del Rosario Corona ("Plaintiff") filed the instant motion for leave to file a First Amended Complaint on September 15, 2009. Pursuant to Local Rule 78-230(h), the Court deemed the matter suitable for decision without oral argument.

BACKGROUND

Oscar Cruz, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed the instant civil rights action on February 19, 2008. He alleged violations of the Eighth Amendment and his equal protection and due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment based on a lockdown at Kern Valley State Prison ("KVSP"). He named Wardens Mike Knowles and Chris Chrones, as well as S. Fraunheim, Facility D Captain, as Defendants.

On May 1, 2009, Defendants filed a Suggestion of Death, indicating that Mr. Cruz died of a stab wound to the abdomen on March 18, 2009, while in custody.

Defendants Chrones and Fraunheim answered the complaint on June 2, 2009. Defendant Knowles answered on June 19, 2009.

On June 22, 2009, the Court granted Maria del RosarioCorona's motion to substitute in as Plaintiff. Ms. Corona ("Plaintiff"), Mr. Cruz's mother and successor in interest, is represented by counsel.

On September 15, 2009, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file a First Amended Complaint. Defendants filed a late opposition on October 14, 2009. Plaintiff filed her reply on October 20, 2009, after receiving an extension from the Court.

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

In his complaint, Mr. Cruz alleged that shortly after he entered KVSP in March 2006, he was placed in the highest work/privilege category. He was also classified as Southern Hispanic. On May 31, 2006, several inmates attacked staff during the evening meal and all inmates, regardless of classification, were placed on lockdown. Mr. Cruz was not involved in the attack.

On June 23, 2006, after certain inmates were restored to a modified program, KVSP issued a Program Status Report ("PSR") regarding Hispanic Inmates. Based on information that the May 31, 2006, attack involved only Southern Hispanic inmates, the PSR advised that all inmates, excluding Southern Hispanics, were to return to a normal program.

Through November 8, 2006, when the final PSR issued to return Southern Hispanics to a normal program, Mr. Cruz was subject to loss of privileges to varying degrees. Most importantly, from May 31, 2006, through November 8, 2006, Southern Hispanics, including Mr. Cruz, were not allowed recreation yard time. He alleged that as a result of the lack of physical activities, he suffered from low back pain. Mr. Cruz further alleges that the lockdown was not an isolated occurrence, but a practice adopted by KVSP.

Mr. Cruz alleged causes of action for (1) violation of his right to be free from discrimination under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; (2) violation of his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment; and (3) violation of his due process rights based on his allegation that the deprivation of privileges amounted to punishment without due process. He requested declaratory and injunctive relief to stop KVSP's practice of ordering lengthy racially-discriminatory lockdowns, as well as compensatory and punitive damages. Specifically, Mr. Cruz requested that a permanent injunction issue to ...


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