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Donovan L. Haley v. Custody Official - Gipson

February 28, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Andrew J. Guilford United States District Judge


For the reasons discussed below, the Complaint is dismissed with leave to amend. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).


The pro se Plaintiff filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. section 1983 on January 28, 2011, naming as Defendants the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and "Custody Officer Gipson," sued in his official and individual capacity. Plaintiff alleges that, while Plaintiff was an inmate at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, Defendant Gipson assertedly subjected Plaintiff to excessive force and failed to provide medical care to Plaintiff.

Plaintiff allegedly suffers from mental illness and hypertension (Complaint, p. 2). Plaintiff alleges that, on November 16, 2010, after Plaintiff complied with another deputy's request for assistance in moving a mattress, Defendant Gipson confronted Plaintiff and ordered Plaintiff into a stairwell (id., p. 5). Allegedly in conspiracy with another deputy, Gipson assertedly placed mechanical wrist restraints on Plaintiff (id.). Both deputies allegedly ignored Plaintiff's complaints of pain (id.).

Gipson allegedly propelled Plaintiff into a "'make shift torture chamber' supply closet" and assertedly choked, beat, shoved and verbally assaulted Plaintiff while the other deputy allegedly watched (id., p. 6). Gipson allegedly pressed his thumb against Plaintiff's jaw, assertedly causing Plaintiff to become lightheaded and to fall to the floor (id.). Gipson and two other deputies allegedly locked Plaintiff in a "rec area," assertedly ignoring Plaintiff's screams of pain and requests to be taken to the clinic because of claims of neck and chest pain (id., pp. 6-7). According to Plaintiff, Plaintiff lost feeling in his left hand and screamed in pain, but purportedly could not use an emergency button on the wall because of the restraints (id., p. 7).

Approximately ten minutes later, the two "co-conspirator" deputies allegedly appeared (id.). Plaintiff allegedly asked the deputies to remove the restraints, and assertedly said he (Plaintiff) was having chest pains and his hand hurt (id.). The deputies allegedly took Plaintiff to his cell, where a deputy assertedly removed the restraints (id., pp. 7-8). Plaintiff allegedly said his left wrist was bleeding and Plaintiff assertedly had no feeling in his left hand (id., p. 8). One deputy reportedly said nothing was wrong with Plaintiff, and the deputies allegedly left (id.).

Plaintiff alleges that he was the victim of excessive force and that deputies failed to provide Plaintiff medical treatment, assertedly in violation of the Constitution. Plaintiff also appears to attempt to assert a claim for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. section 12321 et seq. ("ADA"). Plaintiff also alleges violations of various provisions of the California Penal Code and state regulations. Plaintiff further alleges that deputies failed to respond properly to Plaintiff's inmate grievance. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages and (apparently) a declaration that the alleged use of force and mechanical restraints was unjustified (see Complaint, p. 9).


It is unclear whom Plaintiff intends to sue in this action. Although the caption identifies only the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and Defendant Gipson as Defendants, the body of the Complaint appears to allege wrongdoing by other deputies. A complaint is subject to dismissal if "one cannot determine from the complaint who is being sued, [and] for what relief . . ." McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 1996); see also F. R. Civ. P. 10(a) (title of complaint "must name all the parties").

The official capacity claims against Defendant Gipson must be construed as claims against the County. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165-66 (1985). Plaintiff may not sue the County on a theory of respondeat superior, which is not a theory of liability cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1948 (2009); Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 325 (1981); Gibson v. County of Washoe, Nev., 290 F.3d 1175, 1185 (9th Cir. 2002), cert. denied, 537 U.S. 1106 (2003). A municipal entity may be held liable only if the alleged wrongdoing was committed pursuant to a municipal policy, custom or usage. See Board of County Commissioners of Bryan County, Oklahoma v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 402-04 (1997); Monell v. New York City Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978). Plaintiff has failed to allege facts from which one plausibly could infer the existence of such a municipal policy, custom or usage; Plaintiff's conclusory allegations are insufficient. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949.

It is axiomatic that, to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. section 1983, the plaintiff must allege a violation of a right secured by the constitution or federal law. Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535 (1982), overruled on other grounds, Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327 (1986); Haygood v. Younger, 769 F.2d 1350, 1353 (9th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 478 U.S. 1020 (1986). Plaintiff's allegations of state law violations do not suffice to plead a section 1983 claim. See Cornejo v. County of San Diego, 504 F.3d 853, 855 n.2 (9th Cir. 2007) ("a claim for violation of state law is not cognizable under § 1983") (citation omitted); Lowell v. Poway Unif. Sch. Dist., 90 F.3d 367, 370-71 (9th Cir. 1996) ("To the extent that the violation of a state law amounts to the deprivation of a state-created interest that reaches beyond that guaranteed by the federal Constitution, Section 1983 offers no redress"; citation omitted).

It appears that Plaintiff was a jail detainee at the time of the alleged incident. To the extent Plaintiff purports to allege claims under the Eighth Amendment, the Complaint is insufficient. The Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment applies only after conviction. Pierce v. Multnomah County, Oregon, 76 F.3d 1032, 1042 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 519 U.S. 1006 (1996).*fn1

To the extent that Plaintiff alleges that jail officials unconstitutionally failed to respond properly to Plaintiff's inmate grievance, the Complaint is insufficient. "[A]n inmate has no due process rights regarding the proper handling of grievances." Wise v. Washington State Dep't of Corrections, 244 Fed. App'x 106, 108 (9th Cir. 2007), cert. denied, 562 U.S. 1282 (2008); ...

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