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McKinney v. Corrections and Rehabilitation

August 13, 2010

GREGORY MCKINNEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING DISMISSAL OF CERTAIN CLAIMS CA DEPARTMENT OF (Doc. 18) OBJECTIONS DUE WITHIN 30 DAYS

Plaintiff Gregory McKinney ("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 Kern Valley State Prison ("KVSP"). Plaintiff is suing under Section 1983 for the violation of his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff names Susan Hubbard, Mike Knowles, Hedgpeth, K. Harrington, J. Castro, S.L. Kays, and J. Soto as defendants. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will recommend that this action proceed on Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims against Defendants Hedgpeth, Harrington, Castro, Kays, and Soto. The Court will recommend that Plaintiff's remaining claims be dismissed for failure to state a claim.

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 a Prisoner Civil Rights Complaint on April 24, 2009. (Doc.1.) On September 3, 2009, the court issued an order dismissing Plaintiff's complaint, with leave to file an amended complaint within thirty (30) days. (Doc. 11.) On October 13, 2009, Plaintiff submitted a motion for an extension of time. (Doc. 14.) The court granted Plaintiff's motion on October 20, 2009, allowing until November 23, 2009 for Plaintiff to file an amended complaint. (Doc. 15.) On November 24, 2009, Plaintiff filed his first amended complaint. (Doc. 18.) This action proceeds on Plaintiff's first amended complaint.

B. Factual Background

Plaintiff claims that Defendants Hubbard, Knowles, Hedgpeth, Harrington, Castro, Kays, and Soto "promulgated and implemented a policy which instruct[sic], authorize[sic], and permit[sic] subordinates to impose repeated and consecutive lockdowns where KVSP inmates, including Plaintiff , are held confined to cell quarters without adequate exercise yard for durations which vary." (Am. Compl. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief ¶ 9, ECF No. 18.) Plaintiff claims that the policy violates his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Plaintiff vaguely alleges that the policy permits subordinate "to impose more strenuous lockdowns on african american inmates, including Plaintiff, than others based on race and status as prisoner." (Am. Compl. ¶ 10, ECF No. 18.) Plaintiff claims that "Under the Civil Service Act, KVSP employ[s] predominately hispanic officers who extend obvious preferential treatment towards hispanic inmates, and is the moving force behind the deprivations being challenged herein." (Am. Compl. ¶ 12, ECF No. 18.)

Plaintiff claims that he has suffered continuous and successive lockdowns since July 2007 for reasons such as violence between inmates, racial disputes between inmates, officer trainings, assaults on staff members by inmates, and assaults on inmates by staff. Plaintiff claims that the successive lockdowns resulted in the denial of outdoor exercise. As a result, Plaintiff suffers muscle cramps in his legs, back pain, headaches, stress, and anxiety. Plaintiff claims that the lockdowns persist even after the disruptive inmates are removed from the general population and, therefore, do not relate to any legitimate penological goals.

On July 25, 2007, Plaintiff requested to be transferred from KVSP due to the harsh conditions caused by the lockdowns. Defendant Soto denied Plaintiff's request. Plaintiff claims that the denial constituted ...


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