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Barry S. Jameson, et al v. Scott Rawers

March 8, 2011

BARRY S. JAMESON, ET AL.,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
SCOTT RAWERS, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER THAT PLAINTIFF IS TO FILE A SIXTH AMENDED COMPLAINT OR NOTIFY THE COURT THAT HE IS WILLING TO PROCEED ONLY ON HIS MEDICAL CARE CLAIM

(ECF No. 31)

PLAINTIFF'S RESPONSE DUE NOT LATER THAN APRIL 15, 2011

SCREENING ORDER

Plaintiff Barry S. Jameson ("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.*fn1 Plaintiff initiated this action on May 12, 2003. (ECF No. 1.) He has been granted leave to amend his complaint four times-three times on his motion and once at the Court's request.

Before the Court for screening is Plaintiff's April 20, 2006 Fifth Amended Complaint.*fn2 (ECF No. 31.)

I. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

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). Though Plaintiff has filed five complaints in this action, none of those have been substantively screened by the Court.

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.

II. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

At the time Plaintiff filed his Fifth Amended Complaint, he was incarcerated at Pleasant Valley State Prison ("PVSP") in Coalinga, California. Prior to his confinement at PVSP, he had been incarcerated at Avenal State Prison ("ASP"). In his six-count Complaint, Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief from various defendant prison officials at both facilities.

Count One alleges that prison guards and administrative officials at ASP violated Plaintiff's Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights by inciting inmate violence and failing to protect him from that violence. (Fifth Am. Compl. pp. 6-14.) Plaintiff claims that Defendants were aware that two factions of prisoners within the Administrative Segregation Unit ("ASU") were enemies and that any interaction between the factions would result in violence. Despite this knowledge, prison officials assigned inmates of the rival factions to the same exercise yard and released inmates from the warring factions into the yard at the same time for the purpose of inciting violence.

On January 6, 2003, Plaintiff was released into the exercise yard at the same time as a number of members of the rival faction. A fight broke out and Plaintiff suffered scrapes and bruises, a broken hand, and broken ribs. Plaintiff was also struck in the head by an "exact impact bullet" shot by a guard. The Defendants named in the first cause of action are various guards and administrative officials at ASP.

Count Two alleges that Plaintiff was denied medical care following the above-described incident. (Fifth Am. Compl. pp. 13-18.) Among other things, he claims that his injured hand was not x-rayed for at least five weeks after the incident and that, even after x-rays showed that his hand was broken, he received no treatment or pain medication. He claims his hand is permanently disfigured and causes significant pain. Plaintiff also alleges that he suffers from headaches as a result of a "dent" in his skull from the bullet. The Defendants named in the second cause of action are various prison guards and medical personnel at ASP.

Count Three alleges ongoing violations of Plaintiff's right to access to the courts. (Fifth Am. Compl. pp. 19-31.) He complains that when he was housed at ASP, he was only given access to the law library one to two hours once a month. He alleges that his multiple grievances on this issue were ignored by prison authorities. He claims that his frustration with the resulting inability to prosecute his ongoing legal actions caused him significant stress and contributed to a rise in his blood pressure. Plaintiff's problems accessing the law library continued after his transfer to PVSP. The Defendants named in Plaintiff's third cause of action are correctional officers at both PVSP and ASP.

Count Four alleges that Plaintiff was denied basic necessities such as soap and toilet paper during his confinement at PVSP. He claims that he was forced to use soiled bed sheets for toilet paper and has been denied soap or cleaning products for his cell. Plaintiff alleges that his grievances and appeals regarding the condition of his cell and the lack of access to basic necessities were ignored by prison officials. The Defendants named in Plaintiff's fourth cause of action are various administrators at PVSP.

Count Five alleges that Plaintiff was denied access to the courts when guards and staff at PVSP refused to mail his legal documents and interfered with his incoming mail. (Fifth Am. Compl. pp. 35-44.) Plaintiff also claims that PVSP's policy of allowing indigent prisoners only five envelopes a week interferes with his ability to prosecute his ongoing legal actions. Plaintiff filed a number of grievances and appeals related to this issue; all of which were denied and/or improperly processed. The Defendants named in the fifth cause of action are guards, staff, and administrators at PVSP.

Count Six alleges that Plaintiff's constitutional rights were violated when PVSP officials refused to process and answer his grievances in accordance with statutory mandates. (Fifth Am. Compl. pp. 45-47.) He claims that many of his grievances and appeals were improperly screened out and that he was denied relief to which he was entitled. The Defendants named in the sixth cause of action are guards, staff, and administrators at PVSP.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Rule 20 and Plaintiff's Unrelated Claims

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20(a), individuals may be joined in one action as defendants if any right to relief asserted against them arises out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions and occurrences, and any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action. See also George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007) ("Unrelated claims against unrelated defendants belong in different suits"). If unrelated claims are improperly joined, the Court may dismiss them without prejudice. Fed. R. Civ. P. 21; 7 Wright, Miller & Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil 3d § 1684 at 484 (2001); Michaels Building Co. V. Ameritrust Co., 848 F.2d 674, 682 (6th Cir. ...


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