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Hayes v. Dovey

April 22, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Barry Ted Moskowitz United States District Judge


In this prisoner civil rights case, Dontay Hayes ("Plaintiff"), is proceeding in pro se and in forma pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Defendants Bourland, Janda, Giurbino and Still filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 12(b)(6) [Doc. No. 16]. Defendant Woodford filed a separate Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint [Doc. No. 23]. Plaintiff has filed an Opposition to both Motions to which Defendants have filed a Reply.

I. Factual Background

In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment was violated when Defendants deprived him of outdoor exercise for approximately eight months while the prison was on lockdown. (See Compl. at 3.) Plaintiff was housed at Calipatria State Prison ("CAL") in 2005 and 2006. (Id. at 1.) Plaintiff alleges that from August 2005 to May 2006*fn1 he was "confined to a double bunk cell twenty four (24) hours a day, seven days a week with the exception of shower periods." (Id. at 3.) As a result, Plaintiff claims he suffered from "headaches, muscle cramps, stress, anxiety and depression." (Id.) Plaintiff further alleges that the lockdown remained in place long after the threat of security to the institution had passed and Defendants continued the lockdown "as a means to punish." (Id. at 5.)

II. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint

Defendants Bourland, Janda, Dovey, Giurbino and Still seek dismissal of Plaintiff's Complaint on the grounds that: (1) Plaintiff's claim for monetary damages against all the Defendants in their official capacities is barred by the Eleventh Amendment; (2) Plaintiff has failed to state an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Still, Janda and Bourland; (3) Plaintiff has failed to state a plausible claim for relief against Defendant Dovey; and (4) Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity.

A. FED.R.CIV.P. 12(b)(6) Standard of Review

A Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal may be based on either a "'lack of a cognizable legal theory' or 'the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory.'" Johnson v. Riverside Healthcare System, LP, 534 F.3d 1116, 1121-22 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990)). In other words, the plaintiff's complaint must provide a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that [he] is entitled to relief." Id. (citing FED.R.CIV.P. 8(a)(2)).

A motion to dismiss should be granted if plaintiff fails to proffer "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. ----, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) .

In addition, factual allegations asserted by pro se petitioners, "however inartfully pleaded," are held "to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519-20 (1972). Thus, where a plaintiff appears in propria persona in a civil rights case, the Court must construe the pleadings liberally and afford plaintiff any benefit of the doubt. See Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dept., 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988).

B. Eleventh Amendment Immunity

All named Defendants seek dismissal of Plaintiff's damages claims to the extent they are based on acts taken in their official capacities. While the Eleventh Amendment bars a prisoner's section 1983 claims against state actors sued in their official capacities, Will v. Michigan, 491 U.S. 58, 66 (1989), it does not bar damage actions against state officials in their personalor individual capacities. Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 31 (1991); Pena v. Gardner, 976 F.2d 469, 472-73 (9th Cir. 1992). When a state actor is alleged to have violated both federal and state law and is sued for damages under section 1983 in his individual or personal capacity, there is no Eleventh Amendment bar, even if state law provides for indemnification. Ashker v. California Department of Corrections, 112 F.3d 392, 395 (9th Cir. 1997). Here, Plaintiff clearly indicates an intent to sue Defendants in both their individual and official capacities. (See Compl. at 2.) Thus, the Court GRANTS all Defendants' Motion to Dismiss on Eleventh Amendment grounds, with prejudice, only to the extent that Plaintiff seeks monetary damages against them in their official capacities.

C. Eighth Amendment claims against Defendants Still, Janda and Bourland

Defendants Still, Janda and Bourland move to dismiss Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment allegations against them on the ground that he has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. "Whatever rights one may lose at the prison gates, ... the full protections of the eighth amendment most certainly remain in force. The whole point of the amendment is to protect persons convicted of crimes." Spain v. Procunier, 600 F.2d 189, 193-94 (9th Cir. 1979) (citation omitted). The Eighth Amendment, however, is not a basis for broad prison reform. It requires neither that prisons be comfortable nor that they provide every amenity that one might find desirable. Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347, 349 (1981); Hoptowit v. Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1246 (9th Cir. 1981). Rather, the Eighth Amendment proscribes the "unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain," which includes those sanctions that are "so ...

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