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Timothy Hoban v. California Department of Corrections

December 9, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael J. United States Magistrate Judge


(ECF No. 1)

Plaintiff Timothy Hoban ("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 initiated this action on October 5, 2009 and his original Complaint is currently before the Court for screening.

For the reasons explained below, the Court finds that Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.


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).

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). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 1949-50.


Plaintiff, a level III security offender, arrived at Kern Valley State Prison ("KVSP") in May 2009 and has been continuously housed in the Delta Gymnasium there. He alleges that, as an occupant of the Delta Gymnasium, he has no access to rehabilitation programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous ("AA") or Narcotics Anonymous ("NA") or to self-help educational classes or vocational training. He also contends that Defendants have failed to provide religious services or programs to residents of the Delta Gymnasium. He contends that Level III security inmates housed elsewhere at KVSP have access to all of these programs, as well as the ability to possess personal televisions, fans, and other electrical appliances.

Plaintiff alleges that these deprivations violated his First Amendment right to freedom of religion, Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, and his Fourteenth Amendment rights of Due Process and Equal Protection.

Plaintiff names the following Defendants: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"); K. Harrington-Warden of KVSP; D. Ortiz-Associate Warden; L.L. Woods-Delta Facility Captain; R. Grissom-Associate Warden; and M.D. Biter-Chief Deputy Warden.

Plaintiff seeks a court order requiring CDCR to reassess and reclassify inmates currently being house in the Delta Gymnasium and to offer appropriate programming to all inmates.


A. California Department of Corrections as a Defendant

Plaintiff names the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR") as a Defendant in this action. "State agencies . . . are not 'persons' within the meaning of § 1983, and are therefore not amenable to suit under that statute." Maldonado v. Harris, 370 F.3d 945, 951 (9th Cir. 2004) (citing Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 70 (1989)). CDCR is a state agency and thus not a "person" under § 1983. See Christman v. Micheletti, 302 F. App'x 742, 743 (9th Cir. 2008) ("The district court properly dismissed [the plaintiff's] claims against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation because the state agency is not a 'person' under section 1983."); see also Gilbreath v. Cutter Biological, Inc., 931 F.2d 1320, 1327 (9th Cir. 1991) ("[A]rms of the State such as the Arizona Department of Corrections are not 'persons' under section 1983.") (internal quotation marks omitted); Coleman v. Cal. Dep't of Corr. & Rehab., No. CV 06-2606-JFW (PJW), 2009 WL 648987, at *3 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 10, 2009) (concluding that CDCR was not a "person" subject to suit under § 1983).

In addition, "[i]n the absence of a waiver by the state or a valid congressional override, [u]nder the eleventh amendment, agencies of the state are immune from private damage actions or suits for injunctive relief brought in federal court." Dittman v. California, 191 F.3d 1020, 1025 (9th Cir. 1999). "The State of California has not waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity with respect to claims brought under § 1983 in federal court . . . ." Id. at 1025-26; see also Brown v. Cal. Dep't of Corr., 554 F.3d 747, 752 (9th Cir. 2009). ...

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