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Lamar Singleton, Sr v. Sgt. Jones

March 16, 2011

LAMAR SINGLETON, SR.,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
SGT. JONES, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, WITH LEAVE TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT WITHIN 30 DAYS

Plaintiff Lamar Singleton, Sr. ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR") and is currently incarcerated at Kern Valley State Prison in Delano, California. However, the events described in Plaintiff's complaint took place while he was incarcerated at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran, California ("CSATF-SP"). Plaintiff is suing under Section 1983 for the violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff names Sgt. Jones, Lt. James, C/O Paz, and C/O Alcazar as defendants. For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that Plaintiff's complaint fails to state any cognizable claims. The Court will provide Plaintiff with leave to file an amended complaint which cures the deficiencies identified in this order.

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).

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

Plaintiff claims that Defendants were deliberately indifferent toward a serious threat of harm posed by one of Plaintiff's known enemies. In August 2009, Plaintiff informed prison staff that his then-cellmate, inmate Robinson, was planning to stab building officer C/O Chavez. Plaintiff was told that inmate Robertson*fn1 would be listed as a hostile enemy and that Plaintiff would not have to worry about being on the same yard as him.

It is unclear whether Plaintiff was removed from the cell or otherwise separated from inmate Robertson after Plaintiff informed prison officials about Robertson's plot. If Plaintiff was separated from inmate Robertson, it is unclear when this separation occurred. Plaintiff alleges that prison officials later attempted to re-house Plaintiff with Robertson, suggesting that the two were separated at some point.

On April 9, 2010, Plaintiff was housed in administrative segregation after being removed from suicide watch. On April 15, 2010, Defendants Jones and Paz brought inmate Robertson to Plaintiff's cell. Plaintiff told Paz that he could not be housed with Robertson. Plaintiff was told to cuff up or be placed on management status. Plaintiff complied and was housed with Robertson. Later, Plaintiff was attacked by Robertson while Plaintiff was using the restroom. Robertson kicked Plaintiff on the side and told Plaintiff that he would be stomped to death. Plaintiff was repeatedly kicked while curled in a corner. Plaintiff claims that Defendants James, Jones, and Paz are responsible for housing Plaintiff in a safe environment.

After the attack, Plaintiff requested medical attention from Defendant Alcazar and other nurses in the prison. Plaintiff informed them about the altercation with inmate Robertson. However, Plaintiff was ignored and laughed at and did not see a doctor. Plaintiff claims that he has a leg injury.

III. Discussion

Plaintiff claims that his rights under the Eighth Amendment were violated when he was housed with a known enemy. The Eighth Amendment prohibits the imposition of cruel and unusual punishments and "embodies 'broad and idealistic concepts of dignity, civilized standards, humanity and decency.'" Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102 (1976) (quoting Jackson v. Bishop, 404 F.2d 571, 579 (8th Cir. 1968)). A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only when two requirements are met: (1) the objective requirement that the deprivation is "sufficiently serious," and (2) the subjective requirement that the prison official has a "sufficiently culpable state of mind." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994) (quoting Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991)).

The objective requirement that the deprivation be "sufficiently serious" is met where the prison official's act or omission results in the denial of "the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities." Id. (quoting Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981)). The subjective "sufficiently culpable state of mind" requirement is met when a prison official acts with "deliberate indifference" to inmate health or safety. Id. (quoting Wilson, 501 U.S. at 302-303). A prison official acts with deliberate indifference when he or she "knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety." Id. at 837. "[T]he official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference." Id.

"Prison officials have a duty to take reasonable steps to protect inmates from physical abuse." Hoptowit v. Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1250-51 (9th Cir. 1982). To establish a violation of this duty, the prisoner must establish that prison officials were "deliberately indifferent" to serious threats to the inmate's safety. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). To demonstrate that a prison official was deliberately indifferent to a serious threat to the inmate's safety, the prisoner must show that "the official [knew] of and disregard[ed] an excessive risk to inmate . . . safety; the official must both be aware of facts ...


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