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Eric Charles Rodney Knapp v. Matthew Cate

November 8, 2011


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


(ECF No. 71)

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Eric Charles Rodney Knapp ("Plaintiff"), a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, on November 20, 2008. This action is proceeding on the third amended complaint against Defendants Koenig, Pate, Otto, Backlund, Roberson, Clay, Gibb, Hannah, Semsen, Lyons, and Esquer for deliberate indifference in violation of the Eighth Amendment by the denial of single cell status in August 2008. Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's supplemental complaint, filed September 23, 2011. (ECF No. 71.)

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)).

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. Supplemental Complaint

Plaintiff is in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and is currently incarcerated at Sierra Conservation Center ("SCC"). Plaintiff brings this supplemental complaint against Defendants M. Alexander, B. Alkire, L. Allen, Michael Baldwin, P. Bolles, Matthew Cate, J. Chandler, Frank X. Chavez, D. Foston, Nola Grannis, C. Hammond, Joel Martinez, W. Miller, Anna Pendergrass, P. Quinn, P. T. Rawlinson, W. Sanford, M. Scott, Jack Leroy St. Clair, Janet Tennison, J. Walker, and Does 1 through 50.

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 (d), a supplemental pleading is to set "out any transaction, occurrence, or event that happened after the date of the pleading to be supplemented. Additionally, a supplemental complaint "cannot be used to introduce a 'separate, distinct and new cause of action.'" Planned Parenthood of Southern Ariz. v. Neely, 130 F.3d 400, 402 (9th Cir. 1997) (citations omitted). Plaintiff's third amended complaint was filed on September 29, 2010. In his supplemental complaint, Plaintiff alleges incidents beginning in 2008 that occurred at different prisons and are unrelated to the claims that are proceeding in this action. Plaintiff is attempting to add additional defendants and new claims to his complaint that would have been known to Plaintiff at the time he filed his complaint, rather than to supplement the claims found to be cognizable. Plaintiff's motion to amend was denied and he was only granted leave to file a supplemental complaint. Any incidents that Plaintiff alleges prior to September 29, 2010, should have been pleaded in the third amended complaint and are not properly brought in this supplemental complaint. Only incidents that occurred supplemental to the filing of Plaintiff's third amended complaint, or relevant to the acts alleged, will be addressed.

On June 25, 2009, Plaintiff was transferred back to SCC and was placed on single cell status. On July 8, 2009, Defendants Koenig and Pate conducted a hearing and determined that Plaintiff's single cell status was appropriate at that time. On July 1, 2010, Defendants Otto, Alexander, Allen, Backlund, Peters, and Robertson, conducted a hearing and determined that single cell status was appropriate. On August 19, 2010, Defendants Otto, Alexander, Allen, Backlund, Peters, and Robertson conducted a hearing, without notifying Plaintiff, and found that Plaintiff's symptoms were stable and he was taking his medication. On September 9, 2010, Plaintiff refused to attend an appointment with Defendant Allen. On September 28, 2010, Defendant Otto authored a report withdrawing Plaintiff's single cell status. On September 29, 2010, Defendants Koenig and Quinn moved a prisoner with a history of mental problems into Plaintiff's cell. As a result of being housed with another inmate, Plaintiff decided to kill himself. On September 30, 2010, Defendants Otto, Alexander, Allen, Backlund, Peters, and Robertson conducted a hearing allowing Plaintiff to plead his case for single cell status. Defendants informed Plaintiff that they would offer Plaintiff medication and mental health professionals to discuss his feelings and for support for Plaintiff's symptoms caused by being celled with another inmate.

Concerned staff intervened before Plaintiff could harm himself and he was placed on suicide watch and was transferred to San Quentin from October 1 to October 12, 2010, to be evaluated and treated by a psychiatrist. Plaintiff was returned to SCC and the recommendation was that he not be double celled.

On October 13, 2010, Defendants Chavez, Koenig, and Quinn forced Plaintiff to cell with the same inmate with mental problems. Plaintiff told Defendants Koenig, Quinn, Alexander, and Robertson that his treating psychiatrists at San Quentin said that he was to be single celled. Plaintiff was told that the doctors at San Quentin had no authority over housing at SCC and he could either double cell or go back on suicide watch or go to administrative segregation.

On October 25, 2010, Plaintiff was transferred away from SSC and was granted single cell status at the new prison. Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding the transfer. Plaintiff was transferred back to SCC on June 2, 2011. From June 10 to 13, 2011, Defendants Otto, Alexander, Backlund, Peters, Robertson, and Quinn had Plaintiff housed in an observation cell on suicide watch because he had wrote his mother that he would rather commit suicide than double cell. Plaintiff's single cell status was revoked and he filed a grievance. Defendants Lyons and Baldwin caused the grievance to be obstructed. On August 11, 2011, Defendants Otto, Alexander, Backlund, Peters, and Robertson granted Plaintiff temporary single cell status until June 2012, provided he does ...

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