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Royal v. Knight

July 19, 2010

MARLIN LATTEREAL ROYAL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
S. KNIGHT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER REQUIRING PLAINTIFF TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT OR NOTIFY COURT OF WILLINGNESS TO PROCEED ONLY ON CLAIMS FOUND TO BE COGNIZABLE

(Doc. 1)

Plaintiff Marlin Royal ("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 ("CDCR") and is currently incarcerated at CSP Lancaster. However, the events described in Plaintiff's complaint occurred while Plaintiff was incarcerated at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison ("CSATF/SP") in Corcoran, California. Plaintiff is suing under Section 1983 for the violation of his rights under the First and Eighth Amendments. Plaintiff names Correctional Officer S. Knight, Sergeant K. Turner, Gardner, T. Akin, A. Lyons, J. Cronjager, A. F. Hernandez, Ken Clark, and B. Murberger as defendants. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's complaint is dismissed with leave to file an amended complaint within thirty (30) days.

I. Screening Requirement

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an 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. Factual Background

Plaintiff alleges that he was physically assaulted and retaliated against after he complained about his missing television. On January 28, 2009, Plaintiff complained to Defendant S. Knight about his missing television. Knight allegedly told Plaintiff to "shut the fuck up." (Compl. 4, ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff asked Knight not to speak to him in that manner. Knight replied by saying "I told you to shut the fuck up your[sic] a[sic] inmate I do not have to respect you." (Compl. 4, ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff told Knight again not to speak to him in that manner. Knight then began screaming at Plaintiff and sent Plaintiff back to his cell. When Plaintiff asked Knight why he was so angry, Knight allegedly grabbed Plaintiff's shoulder and pushed him into his cell and injured Plaintiff's shoulder on the cell frame.

After the incident, Plaintiff filed an inmate complaint against Defendant Knight. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Knight kept the television from Plaintiff for three (3) months and on March 25, 2009, Knight warned him to watch his back unless he dropped the complaint. At some point, Sergeant K. Turner ("Defendant Turner") requested that Plaintiff report to his office. Defendant Turner allegedly warned Plaintiff that correctional officers "stick together over inmates" and warned Plaintiff that he would face further problems in the future unless he dropped the complaint.

Plaintiff dropped one of his complaints regarding missing property in return for Defendant Turner's promise that he would deliver the television and keep Defendant Knight away. However, Plaintiff alleges that on April 1, 2009, Defendant Knight placed him in an isolation cell for making threats on an inmate.*fn1 Plaintiff claims that he was falsely accused of making the threats and the charges were later dropped. However, during this time, Plaintiff alleges that his personal property went missing and he was deprived from religious materials, lawyer addresses, and visiting/phone access. Plaintiff claims that he was falsely accused of making the threats and that the charges were later dropped.

III. Discussion

The Supreme Court has instructed the federal courts to liberally construe the inartful pleading of pro se litigants. It is settled that allegations from prisoners, however inartfully pleaded, are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1137 (9th Cir. 1987) (internal citations and quotations omitted); see also Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364. 365 (1982) (per curiam). The rule of liberal construction is "particularly important in civil rights cases." Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1261 (9th Cir. 1992).

Plaintiff makes no specific allegations as to which of his rights have been violated. However, the Court notes that Plaintiff requests relief "due to the unnessary [sic] misuse of force and retailiation [sic]." Given the Court's duty to liberally construe Plaintiff's complaint, the Court ...


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