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Christine Jones v. California Department of Corrections

March 15, 2011



I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Christine Jones ("Plaintiff") is 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 second amended complaint, filed March 2, 2011.

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

Plaintiff brings this action against Defendants Kenneth Clark, James Tilton, Couch, and two unknown police officers ("Does") alleging that she was arrested and her property was searched in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Additionally prison officials failed to provide her with a written notice of termination of the visit in violation of Cal. Code of Regs. tit 15, § 3179.

On September 14, 2007, Plaintiff, a disabled adult, went to Corcoran State Prison to visit her husband, an inmate. (Sec. Amend. Compl. pp. 1-2, ECF No. 14.) After Plaintiff arrived at the prison she signed in and waited to complete the visitor intake process. Plaintiff was approached by Defendants Couch and Does and Defendant Couch told Plaintiff to come with him. Defendant Couch took Plaintiff to a small office and went behind the desk, while the two unknown officers stood. Defendant Couch began to question Plaintiff and told her that he was going to take her property to run a trace search, informed her that he was getting a warrant for a strip search, and asked her if she would sign a form to consent to a strip search. Plaintiff said she would sign the form. (Id.,p. 9.)

Defendant Couch then took Plaintiff's property and placed her in a small utility room. She was told to stand in the middle of the room and if she attempted to discard any contraband the Doe Defendants would use force to stop her. The two officers guarded Plaintiff as she stood in the middle of the room. After approximately fifteen minutes, Defendant Couch returned and began asking Plaintiff questions. Plaintiff told Defendant Couch that she wanted an attorney . The two unknown officers left. Defendant Couch returned her property and told her that she would not be allowed to visit her husband and could leave the facility. (Id.)

First Cause of Action - Fourth Amendment

Plaintiff was arrested, placed in custody, and searched by Defendant Couch and placed under guard of Defendant Does without a hearing pursuant to Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3179, violating her right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

Second Cause of Action - Due Process

Defendant Couch did not provide Plaintiff with a hearing, pursuant to Cal. Code Regs. tit 15, § 3179 in violation of Due Process. Defendants Kenneth Clark and James Tilton failed to train Defendant Couch and this was the moving force behind the constitutional violation.

Third Cause of Action - Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress The false arrest and false imprisonment by Defendants aggravated Plaintiff's pre-existing mental illness causing her to ...

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