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Boone v. Baca

June 10, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Jay C. Gandhi United States Magistrate Judge



On May 6, 2010, plaintiff Velton Boone ("Plaintiff"), a California prisoner incarcerated at North Kern State Prison and proceeding pro se, lodged a civil rights complaint ("Complaint") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Compl. at 1-2.) The Complaint names four defendants: (1) Sheriff Lee Baca ("Sheriff Baca"); (2) Deputy Erskin; (3) Deputy Patterson; and (4) Deputy Krase (collectively "Defendants"). (Id. at 3-4.) Each defendant is sued in both his or her individual and official capacities. (Id.) Plaintiff also requested to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.


Plaintiff alleges that on April 17, 2008, at the "Los Angeles County Jail[,]" Plaintiff was "kicked and beaten by" Deputies Krase, Erskin, and Patterson. (Compl. at 2-3, 5.) Specifically, Plaintiff claims that while he was "en route 'to' court[,]" and "after submitting to an unnecessary strip search[,]" Deputies Krase and Patterson "grabbed" Plaintiff "by each arm[,]" "slung [him] down [to] the [g]round[,]" "handcuffed" him, and then proceeded to beat him. (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff also states that while Deputies Krase and Patterson "punch[ed] and kick[ed]" him, Deputy Erskin "proceed[ed] to beat [Plaintiff] on [his] right leg ... continuously with his flashlight until [Plaintiff] passed out." (Id.) As a result of the incident, Plaintiff alleges that he has "constant pain in [his] back[,] leg[,] and shoulder." (Id. at 6.)

Based upon these factual allegations, Plaintiff alleges a violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment and seeks "punitive damages for pain and suffering[.]" (Compl. at 5-6.)


The Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") obligates the Court to review complaints filed by all persons proceeding in forma pauperis, and by those, like Plaintiff, who are "incarcerated or detained in any facility [and] accused of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the terms or conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or diversionary program." See 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)-(h) and 1915A. Under these provisions, the Court must sua sponte dismiss any prisoner civil rights action and all other in forma pauperis complaints, or any portions thereof, which are frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim, or seek damages from defendants who are immune. Id.; see also Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). Dismissal for failure to state a claim "can be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory." Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dept., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988, as amended Feb. 27, 1990 and May 11, 1990).

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, 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). While Rule 8 does not require "detailed factual allegations," a complaint must provide "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. Thus, a complaint must contain "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads enough factual content to allow a court "to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff must allege that:

(1) the conduct he complains of was committed by a person acting under color of state law; and (2) that the conduct violated a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. Humphries v. County of Los Angeles, 554 F.3d 1170, 1184 (9th Cir. 2009, as amended Jan. 15, 2009 and Jan. 30, 2009), cert. granted in part, 130 S.Ct. 1501 (2010) (citing West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988)).


A. Plaintiff Fails to State a Claim Against Sheriff Bacain his Individual Capacity

Although the Complaint names Sheriff Baca as a defendant, Plaintiff fails to allege any conduct or involvement whatsoever by Sheriff Baca in the alleged incident giving rise to Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim. In fact, other than naming Sheriff Baca, the Complaint fails to say anything, at all, about him. "In order for a person acting under color of state law to be liable under section 1983[,] there must be a showing of personal participation in the alleged rights deprivation: there is no respondeat superior liability under section 1983." Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002); see also Ewing v. City of Stockton, 588 F.3d 1218, 1235 (9th Cir. 2009). Given that there are no allegations against Sheriff Baca, much less allegations of personal involvement, Plaintiff fails to state a claim against Sheriff Baca. Id.; see also Redman v. County of San Diego, 942 F.2d 1435, 1446 (9th Cir. 1991), cert denied, 502 U.S. 1074 (1992) (supervisor only liable under ยง 1983 if (1) he or she was personally involved in constitutional deprivation, or (2) a sufficient causal connection exists "between the ...

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