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Russell Martin v. Bryant

August 23, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandra M. Snyder United States Magistrate Judge


(ECF No. 51)

I. Screening Requirement


Plaintiff Russell Martin ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On February 24, 2011, an order issued granting Defendant's motion for summary judgment and ordering Plaintiff to file a motion to amend and an amended complaint. (ECF No. 45.) Currently pending before the Court is Plaintiff's second amended complaint and motion to amend. (ECF Nos. 51, 52.) The Court shall grant Plaintiff's motion to file an amended complaint.

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 is in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The incidents alleged in the complaint occurred while Plaintiff was housed at the California Correctional Institute, Tehachapi. Plaintiff brings this action against Defendants Bryant, Wright, Alipaz, and five unidentified correctional officers ("Does") for violations of the First, Fourth, and Eighth Amendments.*fn1 (Second Amended Compl. 2, ECF No. 51.) Plaintiff is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. (Id. at 10.)

On November 14, 2005, Plaintiff informed prison officials that he was not getting along with his cell mate and refused to return to his cell. Plaintiff alleges that, in retaliation, his television was confiscated and he was placed in a single cell without his "SHU allowable property." Plaintiff spoke with Defendant Bryant about the situation, who ignored Plaintiff's complaints. (Id. at 3.) In response Plaintiff and other black inmates coordinated a protest in which they blocked their cell door windows. After officers negotiated with Plaintiff to get him to uncover the window, Defendant Bryant ordered Plaintiff cuff up because a watch commander wanted to speak with him.

Once in a holding cell, Defendant Bryant ordered Plaintiff to strip in front of ten to fifteen male and female correctional officers. Plaintiff refused to undress in front of the officers and Defendant Bryant ordered some Doe Defendants to remove Plaintiff from the holding cell and strip him. Plaintiff's clothing was removed by Doe Defendants and a female medical technician examined him. (Id.) All the linens were then removed from Plaintiff's cell. Plaintiff was placed into a cell that was so dirty he could pick dirt up off the floor with his hands. He had only a pair of paper underwear and was forced to sleep on a steel bunk on the floor with no mattress, sheets, or blanket. Plaintiff did not have access to a towel, soap, or toilet paper. Plaintiff was left in these conditions for three days. (Id. at 4.)

III. Discussion

A. First ...

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