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Steven David Rupe v. J. Catavich

March 29, 2011

STEVEN DAVID RUPE,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
J. CATAVICH, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S.Austin United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, WITH LEAVE TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT WITHIN THIRTY DAYS (Doc. 1)

Screening Order

I. Screening Requirement

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. Plaintiff has consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1).

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).

Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions," none of which applies to § 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema, N.A., 534 U.S. 506 (512) (2002). Pursuant to 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). "Such a statement must simply give defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Swierkewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of the cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (209), citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (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. While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.

Although accepted as true, "[f]actual allegations must be [sufficient] to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). A plaintiff must set forth "the grounds of his entitlement to relief,'" which "requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Id. at 555-56 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). To adequately state a claim against a defendant, a plaintiff must set forth the legal and factual basis for his claim.

II. Plaintiff's Claims

Plaintiff, formerly an inmate in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) at Wasco State Prison, brings this civil rights action against correctional officials employed by the CDCR at Wasco. The claims in this complaint stem from a sexual assault upon Plaintiff by another inmate while Plaintiff was housed at the Reception Center at Wasco. Plaintiff names the following individual defendants: Warden J. Catavich; Reception Center Lieutenant; Sergeant Revera [sic]; Sgt. Baker; Correctional Counselor Uriza.

Plaintiff alleges that in June, 2008, while housed in a cell at the Wasco Reception Center, he was sexually assaulted by an inmate that was moved into his cell. Plaintiff told Correctional Officer (C/O) Cortez what happened. C/O Cortez removed the inmate from the cell and placed him in a stand up cage. Defendants Baker and Revera escorted Plaintiff to the program office. Baker and Revera made offensive comments about the sexual assault. Plaintiff was placed in a holding cage. Sgt. Revera went in to the program office. When he came out, he informed Plaintiff that the inmate who assaulted him was a known sexually violent predator. Revera advised Plaintiff that "someone dropped the ball" when the inmate was housed with Plaintiff. Plaintiff was taken to a local hospital and subjected to a rape examination, which was "traumatizing" for Plaintiff, as it involved an examination by a female nurse. The inmate was eventually referred to the District Attorney for prosecution, and charged with a new offense.

Plaintiff was placed on single cell status. On September 15, 2009, Plaintiff asked his mental health counselor why he was on single cell status. Plaintiff was advised that "someone mest [sic] up when housing the other inmate with plaintiff. So no one wanted to have their name on any paper work due to a civil law suit." (Compl. 3:4-5.) Plaintiff specifically alleges that "The inmate that assaulted plaintiff was a known sexually violent offense against one or more victims and who has a diagnosed mental disorder that makes the person a danger to the health and safety of others in that it is likely that he will engage in sexually violent criminal behavior."

(Compl. 3:6-10.)

A. Failure to Protect

"The treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994) (citing Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993)). Prison officials have a duty to take reasonable steps to protect inmates from physical abuse. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 833; 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 a serious threat to the inmates's safety." Farmer, at 834. The question under the Eighth Amendment is whether prison officials, acting with deliberate indifference, exposed a prisoner to a sufficiently substantial 'risk of serious damage to his future health ... .'" Farmer, 511 U.S. at 843 (citing Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 35 (1993)). The Supreme Court has explained that "deliberate indifference entails something more than mere negligence ... [but] something less than acts or omissions for the ...


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