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Zavala v. Chrones

January 6, 2010

KEITH ZAVALA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHRIS CHRONES, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER DISMISSING CERTAIN CLAIMS AND DEFENDANTS (Doc. 6)

Order Following Screening

Plaintiff Keith Zavala, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on August 3, 2009. On August 28, 2009, Plaintiff filed his first amended civil rights complaint. The Court screened Plaintiff's first amended complaint on December 1, 2009, and found that it states a cognizable claim against Defendant Martin for violation of the Eighth Amendment, but failed to state any other cognizable claims. The Court ordered that Plaintiff either file an amended complaint curing the deficiencies identified, or submit written notice of his willingness to proceed only against Defendant Martin. On December 31, 2009, Plaintiff filed notice of his intent to not amend his complaint and to proceed only against Defendant Martin. The Court thus issues the following Order.

I. Screening Requirement

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. Plaintiff's Claims

Plaintiff, who is currently housed at Kern Valley State Prison ("KVSP") in Delano, brings this action for violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

A. Eighth Amendment Claims

Plaintiff alleges that on June 19, 2007, he attended an Institution Classification Committee ("ICC") hearing before Defendants Chrones, Smith, Kays and Chandler. At the time of the hearing Plaintiff was housed in the Administrative Segregation Unit ("ASU"). During the hearing, an officer from KVSP Internal Gang Investigations ("KVSP-IGI") presented evidence that Plaintiff would be assaulted if released from ASU. The information was based on a letter written by a prison inmate and associate of the Mexican Mafia gang. Plaintiff contends that Defendants Chrones, Smith, Kays and Chandler elected to release Plaintiff from ASU to Facility B. On September 15, 2007, Plaintiff was attacked by two inmates and stabbed approximately twenty-two times.

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).

Although prison conditions may be restrictive and harsh, prison officials must provide prisoners with food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, medical care, and personal safety. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832-33 (1994) (internal citations and quotations omitted). Prison officials have a duty to take reasonable steps to protect inmates from physical abuse. Id. at 833; Hearns v. Terhune, 413 F.3d 1036, 1040 (9th Cir. 2005). The failure of prison officials to protect inmates from attacks by other inmates may rise to the level of an Eighth Amendment violation where prison officials know of and disregard a substantial risk of serious harm to the plaintiff. E.g., Farmer at 847; Hearns at 1040.

1. Defendants Chrones, Smith, Kays, Chandler and Soto

Plaintiff contends that Defendants Chrones, Smith, Kays and Chandler acted with deliberate indifference in releasing Plaintiff into Facility B despite knowledge of a threat made against him. Plaintiff further contends that Defendant Soto, Captain of Facility B, also acted with deliberate indifference by failing to take any action to protect Plaintiff after ...


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