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Gonzalez v. Doe

September 20, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Thomas J. Whelan United States District Judge


On October 10, 2007, Plaintiff Edwin N. Gonzalez ("Plaintiff"), a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, commenced this action seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") on November 5, 2009. (Doc. No. 32.) On December 18, 2009, Defendants John Doe, et. al. (collectively "Defendants") filed a motion to dismiss. (Doc. No. 35.) On July 28, 2010, Magistrate Judge Louisa S. Porter filed a Report and Recommendation ("Report"), recommending that the Court grant Defendants' motion and dismiss the SAC in its entirety. (Doc. No. 43.)

On August 17, 2010, Plaintiff timely filed his objections to the Report.*fn1 (Doc. No. 45.) Defendants filed their reply on September 9, 2010. (Doc. No. 46.) The Court decides the matter on the papers submitted and without oral argument. See Civil Local Rule 7.1(d.1). For the reasons outlined below, the Court ADOPTS the Report and GRANTS Defendants' motion to dismiss.


Plaintiff is a prisoner currently incarcerated at Ironwood State Prison, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis on his Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. No. 32 at 1.) Defendants are a collection of correctional officers, counselors, and supervising administrators at Calipatria and Ironwood State Prisons. (Id. at 3.) The following description of events is taken from the parties' pleadings and is not to be construed as findings of fact by the Court.

On January 4, 2006, while Plaintiff was an inmate at Calipatria State Prison, he was questioned by Defendant Tamayo about yard incidents and a list of inmates' names found in his personal belongings. (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff explained that the list was for the purpose of filing a group appeal on the basis of religion. (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff denied knowledge of the yard incidents, but Defendant Tamayo allegedly told Plaintiff if "he has to go again for [P]laintiff, that this time things were going to be like the 'old days,' and that [Defendant Tamayo] personally would go inside [P]laintiff's cell and drag him out for his actions." (Id. at 6.)

On January 6, 2006, Defendant Preciado searched Plaintiff's cell and stated that prison officials had received confidential information from an informant concerning Plaintiff. (Id. at 7.) When the search did not reveal anything to corroborate the information, Defendant Preciado informed Plaintiff that "the confidential information is no longer credible and will no longer be considered." (Id. at 7.)

Plaintiff was subsequently transferred to Ironwood, where he learned that confidential information had been placed in his prison file. (Id. at 7.) He submitted a 602 appeal requesting to see the confidential information, or in the alternative, that the information be removed or corrected. (SAC at Exh. C5.) Defendant Bates denied the appeal at the informal level on June 17, 2006. (Id.)

On July 17, 2006, Defendant Rettagliata denied Plaintiff's appeal at the first formal level. (Id. at Exh. C6.) As part of the procedure for that decision, Defendant Retaggliatta interviewed Plaintiff. (SAC at 8.) Defendant Retaggliatta allegedly asked Plaintiff why he was concerned about the contents of his file if he was a "lifer," and said the information would remain in Plaintiff's record because prison officials at Calipatria State Prison had "found Plaintiff guilty in part." (Id. at 8.) This comment confused Plaintiff because he maintains that he had never been charged with any misbehavior at Calipatria. (Id. at 8.)

On September 18, 2006, Defendants Payton and Ryan denied Plaintiff's appeal at the second formal level. (Id. at Exh. C3.) Finally, on December 28, 2006, Plaintiff's appeal was denied at the Director's Level, which held Plaintiff did not have a right to view the confidential portion of his file. (Id. at Exh. C1.) That decision, in part, reads:

The appellant is advised that he does not have the right to view the confidential portion of his C-File... The memorandum was approved for placement in [Plaintiff's] Confidential Folder within his C-file. Before authorizing this placement, the approving authority ensured that the memorandum contained the necessary elements to establish it as "confidential." Information which, if known to the inmate, would endanger the safety of any person or information which would jeopardize the security of the institution must be kept confidential. Pursuant to the CCR 3450(d), "No inmate or parolee shall prepare, handle, or destroy any portion of a departmental record containing confidential information as that term is defined in Section 3321.


While his second level appeal was pending, some prisoners assaulted Plaintiff at Ironwood. (SAC at 9.) He sustained serious wounds and was placed in a medical unit. (Id. at 9.) While Plaintiff was receiving medical care, Defendant Payton told Plaintiff he was being placed under contraband watch*fn2 due to the confidential information in his file. (Id. at 9.) Plaintiff remained on contraband watch for four days. (Id. at 9.)

On March 12, 2008, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC"), seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that prison officials deprived him of his Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights by placing and maintaining false confidential information in his prison file. (Doc. No. 9.) On July 2, 2009, the Court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss without prejudice. (Doc. No. 31.)

On November 5, 2009, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") against the following Defendants in their official and individual capacities: F. Hector, Associate Warden; S.J. Ryan, Deputy Warden; M.D. Payton, Facility Captain; Y. Rettagliatta, Correctional Counselor; R. Bates, Correctional Counselor; Preciado, Correctional Sergeant; and Tamayo, Correctional Officer. (Doc. No. 32.) Defendants Hector, Ryan, Payton, and Rettagliatta are employed at Ironwood, and Defendants Preciado and Tamayo are employed at Calipatria. (Id. at 3-4.)

In his SAC, Plaintiff asserts three claims: (1) a First Amendment violation because Defendants retaliated against him for filing grievance appeals; (2) an Eighth Amendment violation because Defendants "subject[ed] Plaintiff to the tortures of 'potty watch' [contraband watch surveillance];" and (3) a Fourteenth Amendment Due Process violation because Defendants placed and maintained false confidential information in his file. (SAC at 10-17.) Plaintiff seeks injunctive and declaratory relief, as well as compensatory, punitive, nominal, and mental anguish damages, and attorneys' fees and costs. (Id. at 18-19.)

On December 18, 2009, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's SAC. (Doc. No. 35.) Defendants present seven grounds to dismiss the action: (1) that Plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies; (2) that Defendants are immune from suits in their official capacities under the Eleventh Amendment; (3) that Plaintiff has failed to state a sufficient claim for First Amendment retaliation against any of the Defendants; (4) that Plaintiff has failed to state an Eighth Amendment claim; (5) that Plaintiff has failed to state a Fourteenth Amendment due process claim; (6) that qualified immunity protects Defendants from liability for damages in their individual ...

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