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Lemar Singleton, Sr v. Jones

November 7, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Barbara A. McAuliffe United States Magistrate Judge


I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff LeMar Singleton, Sr. is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On March 17, 2011, Plaintiff's complaint was dismissed, with leave to amend, for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 13.) Currently before the Court is the first amended complaint, filed August 18, 2011. (ECF No. 20.)

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, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S. Ct. 1955 (2007)).

II. Complaint Allegations

Plaintiff is in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR") and is incarcerated at Kern Valley State Prison. Plaintiff brings this action against Defendants Jones, Paz, and Byers for violations of the Eighth Amendment and is seeking monetary damages.

Plaintiff alleges that around April 8, 2010, while housed at the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility, Defendants Paz and Jones approached his cell with his ex-cell mate, Robinson. Robinson had just returned to the custody of CDCR from an unrelated case in Florida. Plaintiff informed Defendants Paz and Jones that he could not be housed with Robinson. Defendants told Plaintiff to cuff up and accept Robinson as a cell mate or they would take his belongings. Shortly after being placed in the cell, Robinson knocked Plaintiff against the cell door and began kicking, hitting, and stomping on him.

After about four hours, Defendant Paz came to the cell and told Plaintiff to cuff up because a mistake had been made. Defendant Pax informed Plaintiff that he should appeal the decision because Defendant Jones had ordered the move. Plaintiff states that on "7-10" he provided information to staff that Robinson was going to stab another inmate. On that day he was told that he would not be housed at the same facility with Robinson as long as he was in the custody of CDCR. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Paz and Jones should have known that he was at a substantial risk of harm because he had informed on Robinson and he had a right to be protected from assault.

Plaintiff alleges that after being treated the first time for his injuries, he informed Defendant Byers that he was in so much pain that he was unable to sleep. Defendant Byers refused to treat Plaintiff for a torn rotator cuff and back and neck pain because he was told by Defendant Jones and staff that no altercation had occurred. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Byers scratched him from the medical line requiring Plaintiff to go to emergency medical to get his steroid injections for his hip and shoulder pain.

III. Discussion

A. Failure to Protect

Prison officials are required "to take reasonable steps to protect inmates from physical abuse." Hoptowit v. Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1250 (9th Cir. 1982) (abrogated on other grounds by Sandin v. O'Connor, 515 U.S. 472, 115 S. Ct. 2293 (1995)). To state a claim the plaintiff must show that the defendants acted with deliberate indifference. Thomas v. Ponder, 611 F.3d 1144, 1150 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). Deliberate indifference requires a showing that "prison officials were aware of a "substantial risk of serious harm" to an inmates health or safety and that there was no "reasonable justification for the deprivation, in spite of that risk." Id. (quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837, 844, 114 S. Ct. 1970, 1979, 1982 (1994)).

Liberally construed Plaintiff's complaint states a cognizable claim for failure to protect against ...

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