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Wright v. Shannon

February 2, 2010

RAYMOND WRIGHT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
R. SHANNON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER REQUIRING PLAINTIFF EITHER TO NOTIFY COURT OF WILLINGNESS TO PROCEED ONLY ON CERTAIN CLAIMS, OR TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT

(Doc. 33)

RESPONSE DUE WITHIN 30 DAYS

Plaintiff Raymond Wright ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and was incarcerated at Pleasant Valley State Prison ("PVSP") at the time the events in his complaint took place. Plaintiff is suing under section 1983 for the violation of his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff names R. Shannon, T. Hudgins, E. Parks, M. C. Voss, James A. Yates, J. M. Mattingly, J. L. Scott, L. Fugate, D. Huckaby, R. Lantz, J. Collier, C. O. Redding, S. Deshazo, John Doe #1, John Doe #2, E. Zamora, A. Romero, J. A. Perez, I. Villa, L. Wiest, "Third Watch Central Control Defendants," and Rumbles as defendants. For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that Plaintiff's complaint states some cognizable claims. Plaintiff will be ordered to either notify the Court of his willingness to proceed only on his Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Rumbles and John Doe #1, or to file an amended complaint which cures the deficiencies in his claims.

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).

In determining whether a complaint fails to state a claim, the Court uses the same pleading standard used under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Under Rule 8(a), 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). "[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require 'detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). "[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "[A] complaint [that] pleads facts that are 'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability . . . 'stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Further, although a court must accept as true all factual allegations contained in a complaint, a court need not accept a plaintiff's legal conclusions as true. Id. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

II. Background

A. Procedural Background

Plaintiff filed the original complaint in this action on November 11, 2005. (Doc. #1.) Plaintiff filed his first amended complaint on March 9, 2006. (Doc. #15.) After filing multiple motions to amend his complaint (Docs. #28, 30) the Court granted Plaintiff leave to amend (Doc. #32) and Plaintiff filed his second amended complaint on November 21, 2006 (Doc. #33). This action proceeds on Plaintiff's second amended complaint.

B. Factual Background

Plaintiff alleges that his constitutional rights were violated by Defendants while he was incarcerated at PVSP. Plaintiff's complaint claims that his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments were violated by prison officials who ignored Plaintiff's inmate appeals, found Plaintiff guilty of a false rules violation report, and retaliated against Plaintiff by housing him with a dangerous cellmate. Plaintiff's complaint seeks compensatory and punitive damages.*fn1

1. Claims Against R. Shannon, T. Hudgins, E. Parks, and M. C. Voss

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants R. Shannon, T. Hudgins, E. Parks, and M. C. Voss are inmate appeals coordinators at PVSP. Plaintiff claims that Shannon, Hudgins, Parks, and Voss implemented a "greenwall" code of silence whereby Plaintiff's inmate appeals complaining about prison officials' misconduct would be delayed, denied, or ignored. Specifically, Plaintiff attempted to file an inmate appeal complaining about the fact that he was found guilty of a false rules violation (attempting to escape). Plaintiff claims that the appeals coordinators would use an endless list of excuses to frustrate Plaintiff's "right to appeal," such as instructing Plaintiff to exclude attached documentation or requesting Plaintiff to rewrite appeals. Plaintiff also claims that appeals coordinators would wrongfully screen out or simply trash Plaintiff's appeals. Plaintiff claims their actions violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

2. Claims Against James A. Yates

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant James A. Yates is the warden at PVSP. Plaintiff alleges that Yates was fully aware of the existence of a surveillance tape that would have served as exculpatory evidence in Plaintiff's rules violation hearing for attempted escape. Plaintiff claims that Yates should have instructed his subordinates to review the surveillance tape in order to prove Plaintiff's innocence. Plaintiff also claims that he forwarded a complaint to Yates about appeals coordinators denying and ignoring his inmate appeals. Yates later ignored a note from Plaintiff requesting that Yates return the complaint back to him. Plaintiff claims that Yates' actions violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

3. Claims Against J. M. Mattingly

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant J. M. Mattingly is the associate warden at PVSP and is responsible for ensuring that inmates are safely housed. Plaintiff also alleges that Mattingly has the authority to overturn findings of guilt for rules violations. Plaintiff claims that he submitted a "request for interview" to Mattingly concerning the confidential inmate witnesses used by prison officials to find Plaintiff guilty of attempting to escape. Plaintiff complained that the witnesses should have undergone a polygraph test to determine the reliability of their testimony. Plaintiff also complained that most of Plaintiff's witnesses were not allowed to attend the rules violation hearing. Plaintiff submitted a second "request for interview" that complained about the investigative employee's failure to ask Plaintiff's "star witness" certain questions that Plaintiff provided. Plaintiff submitted a third "request for interview" that complained about the "prejudiced" hearing.

Plaintiff also claims that Mattingly is responsible for the safe housing of "protective custody prisoners." Plaintiff alleges that he was housed with at least 10 different incompatible cellmates in retaliation for filing staff complaints, which resulted in three in-cell fights with cellmates. Plaintiff claims that Mattingly violated Plaintiff's rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

4. Claims Against J. L. Scott

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant J. L. Scott is a lieutenant at PVSP. Scott officiated Plaintiff's rules violation hearing for attempted escape. Plaintiff complains that Scott prohibited 13 of Plaintiff's witnesses from attending the hearing and only allowed adverse witnesses to attend. Plaintiff was found guilty of the rules violation. As a result, Plaintiff lost 120 days of credits, lost his "privilege group A1A status", lost privileges, lost his prison job, and suffered mental and physical pain from elevated blood pressure and weight loss due to the stress of worrying about whether he would be criminally prosecuted. Plaintiff claims that Scott violated Plaintiff's rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

5. Claims Against Deshazo and John Doe #2

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Deshazo and John Doe #2 are officers at PVSP. Plaintiff claims Deshazo sexually assaulted Plaintiff. Plaintiff claims that John Doe #2 should be included as a defendant and that his identity will be sought during discovery. However, Plaintiff does not state what John Doe #2 did or failed to do. Plaintiff claims that Deshazo and John Doe #2 violated Plaintiff's rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

6. Claims Against E. Zamora

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant E. Zamora is an officer at PVSP. Plaintiff claims Zamora wrongfully confiscated Plaintiff's personal property and refused to respond to Plaintiff's complaints. Plaintiff claims that Zamora violated Plaintiff's rights under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

7. Claims Against J. A. Perez, I. Villa, L. Wiest and A. Romero

Plaintiff alleges that J. A. Perez is an investigative services unit officer, I. Villa is an officer, L. Wiest is employed as "free kitchen staff," and A. Romero is a kitchen officer at PVSP. Plaintiff complains that Perez, Villa, Wiest, and Romero authored a false incident report that was used to find Plaintiff guilty of attempting to escape. Plaintiff claims that Perez, Villa, Wiest, and Romero violated his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

8. Claims Against Rumbles and John Doe #1

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Rumbles and John Doe #1 are officers at PVSP. Plaintiff complains that Rumbles sexually harassed Plaintiff and twice challenged Plaintiff to a physical altercation. Plaintiff also claims that Rumbles had another guard, John Doe #1, physically assault Plaintiff. John Doe #1 secured Plaintiff's handcuffs tightly and roughly escorted Plaintiff to a holding cell. Plaintiff claims that Rumbles and John Doe #1 violated Plaintiff's rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

9. Claims Against Central Control Defendants

Plaintiff alleges that "Central Control Staff" at PVSP violated his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. The Central Control Defendants accused Plaintiff of not being in his assigned cell during count and Plaintiff was accused of delaying count. Plaintiff claims that he was supposed to be at his assigned kitchen job and that his excuse was confirmed by the "daily movement sheet." Plaintiff claims that Central Control Defendants violated Plaintiff's rights under the Eighth Amendment and under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

10. Claims Against Huckaby, Lantz, Fugate and Redding

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Huckaby and Lantz are third watch sergeants at PVSP. Fugate is a counselor at PVSP and Redding is a floor officer at PVSP. Huckaby "reviewed and supervised" Plaintiff's rules violation for attempted escape. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Fugate knew that inmate Lyons threatened to kill Plaintiff. Fugate did not alert Plaintiff of the threat despite the fact that Plaintiff encountered inmate Lyons on numerous occasions, giving Lyons multiple opportunities to carry out his threat.

On July 29, 2005, Plaintiff informed Defendants Redding and Huckaby of numerous threats that inmate Ford made against Plaintiff. Plaintiff complains that Redding and Huckaby did nothing to protect Plaintiff. Plaintiff staged a suicide attempt to protect himself. When Plaintiff was released from suicide watch, Plaintiff told Huckaby and Defendant Latz about multiple enemies that resided on "Facility A." Huckaby and Lantz attempted to force Plaintiff to remain in "Facility A" despite the threats. After Plaintiff was housed in Facility A, Plaintiff flooded the tier so that he would be placed in the administrative segregation unit ("ASU"). Plaintiff claims that he submitted an appeal to Defendant Redding that addressed Plaintiff's safety issues. However, Plaintiff does not allege what Redding did with the appeal, and it is unclear how Redding's response violated Plaintiff's rights.

11. Claims Against J. Collier

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant J. Collier is a third watch relief ASU sergeant at PVSP. Plaintiff does not provide any allegations as to what Collier did or failed to do. Plaintiff only concludes that he is "raising a retaliatory claim for initiating and maintaining lawsuits on PVSP officials along with threatening to subject Plaintiff to cruel and ...


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