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Marciano Plata v. James A. Yates

February 15, 2011



(ECF. No. 1)

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Marciano Plata ("Plaintiff") is a former state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently pending before the Court is the complaint, filed February 4, 2010. (Compl., ECF No. 1.)

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 "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted," or that "seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

In determining whether a complaint states a claim, the Court looks to the pleading standard 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. 554, 555 (2007)).

Under section 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949-50; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). "[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.'" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (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. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949. "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. Complaint Allegations

Although Plaintiff is currently out of custody and residing in Eloy, Arizona, this action was filed while he was in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"). On May 13, 2009, while housed at Pleasant Valley State Prison, Plaintiff was being transported to a medical appointment. Defendants Torres and Dhillon placed mechanical restraints, including "the black box" on his hands. (Compl. ¶ 14, ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants did this in a sadistic and malicious manner causing him pain and cuts on his wrists. Both Defendants made it plain that they were purposely inflicting pain due to Plaintiff's involvement in a previous lawsuit, Plata v. Schwarzennegar, which resulted in the CDCR medical system being placed in receivership. (Id.) When Plaintiff complained that they were hurting him, Defendants Torres and Dhillon laughed and tightened the restraints causing the circulation to be cut off to his hands resulting in numbness. The pain to Plaintiff's hands and wrists became unbearable and he requested that he be taken back to the prison. (Id., ¶ 15.) Plaintiff received scars to his wrists and permanent nerve damage due to Defendants use of the restraints. (Id., ¶ 16.)

Plaintiff claims that Defendants V. Carr, Nancy Bair and M. Medina "purposely and intentionally engaged in a cover-up of the injuries and knowingly and intelligently falsified medical and other documents claiming there [was] no injury." (Id., ¶ 17.) On May 14, 2009, Plaintiff complained to the Prison Law Office regarding the manner in which the restraints were applied and Defendant Ronald Hanson ordered that Plaintiff be reexamined by medical personnel. (Id., ¶ 18.) Plaintiff was reexamined by an unknown nurse who documented his injuries on May 15, 2009. Plaintiff again contacted the Prison Law Office and complained he was not being treated for his injuries and filed an administrative appeal on May 24, 2009. (Id., ¶ 19.) On June 5, 2009, Defendant Hanson wrote a rule violation report in retaliation for the prior law suit filed by Plaintiff and his filing a grievance regarding his incident. (Id., ¶ 20.)

First Cause of Action

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Yates and Hanson implemented a policy and failed to adequately train and supervise Defendants Torres and Dhillon in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Id., ¶ 23.) Defendants Torres and Dhillon used excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Id., ¶ 24.)

Second Cause of Action

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Hanson, Carr, Torres, Dhillon, Bair, and Medina violated Plaintiff's rights under the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments by retaliating against him for his involvement in the prior law suit and filing a grievance regarding these incidents. (Id., ¶ 30.)

Plaintiff is seeking declaratory relief that the use of the black box is unconstitutional, injunctive relief for medical care to repair the damage to his wrists, hands, and fingers, punitive and compensatory damages and costs, (id., p. 12:20-28), and brings suit against the following Defendants:

Warden James Yates, in his official and individual capacities, as he is responsible for the health and safety of the inmates at the institution. Defendant Yates is also responsible for implementing the "black box" policy, is aware of injuries ...

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