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Ronald A. Rogers v. Chris Grijalva

March 4, 2011


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


Plaintiff Ronald A. Rogers ("Plaintiff") is a civil detainee proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is currently detained at Coalinga State Hospital in Coalinga, California. Plaintiff is suing under Section 1983 for the violation of his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff names Chris Grijalva, Jose Perez, John Sanzberro, and Does 1-10*fn1 as defendants. Plaintiff has consented to jurisdiction by U.S. Magistrate Judge. (Doc. #8.)

For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that Plaintiff's first amended complaint states some cognizable claims. The Court will dismiss the non-cognizable claims from Plaintiff's first amended complaint without leave to amend.

I. Screening

Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis in this action. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court shall dismiss any action brought in forma pauperis at any time if the Court determines that the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

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 the original complaint in this action on July 24, 2009. (Doc. #1.) The Court screened Plaintiff's original complaint on March 3, 2010. The Court found that Plaintiff's original complaint stated some cognizable claims and found that some claims were non-cognizable. The Court ordered Plaintiff to either file an amended complaint or inform the Court that he wishes to proceed only on the claims found to be cognizable by the Court.

On May 12, 2010, Plaintiff filed his first amended complaint. (Doc. #14.) This action proceeds on Plaintiff's first amended complaint.

B. Factual Background

Plaintiff's complaint describes four incidents that occurred between January 29, 2009, and May 21, 2009. Plaintiff contends that Defendants harassed him by awakening him when he was asleep, searching his person and property for contraband, placing him in restraints, involuntarily administering medications, and drawing his blood. Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment, the Due Process Clause, and the Equal Protection Clause.

Plaintiff alleges that on January 29, 2009, Defendants Jose Perez and Chris Grijalva, along with Julio Zuniga (not named as a defendant in this action), entered Plaintiff's room at 1:30 p.m. and awakened him while searching his room. Plaintiff alleges that he is a "day sleeper" and has repeatedly asked staff at Coalinga State Hospital to refrain from awakening him during the day. Plaintiff contends that the "lack of sleep is literally killing plaintiff." (Verified First Am. Compl. for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and for Money Damages ¶ 17, ECF No. 14.) Plaintiff's allegations suggest that the searches are performed in a harassing manner. Plaintiff alleges that a few days earlier, Defendant Perez intentionally awakened Plaintiff by knocking on his door and calling out his name very loudly. When Plaintiff did not respond, Perez approached Plaintiff in his bed and screamed Plaintiff's name and told him that someone named Ruben wanted to talk to him.

Plaintiff alleges that on January 31, 2009, Defendants Grijalva and Perez awakened him again while searching the area around his bed. Perez was on his knees searching bags of food underneath Plaintiff's bed while Grijalva was on the other side of Plaintiff's bed searching a locker. A third staff member was standing at the foot of Plaintiff's bed. Plaintiff cursed at Defendants for waking him up then left to use the restroom. When Plaintiff returned, the Defendants were still searching Plaintiff's property. Plaintiff claims "there was no one overseeing the illegal search, not even Ward Government members as required." (First Am. Compl. ΒΆ 27, ECF No. 14.) Plaintiff then overheard Defendant Perez on the telephone asking the medical department about Plaintiff's prescription for a walking cane. ...

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