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Darrell Bradford v. James A. Yates

January 3, 2012


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


First Screening Order

I. Screening Requirement and Standard

Plaintiff Darrell Bradford, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on November 9, 2010. The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity and/or against an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Plaintiff's complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

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). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." 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, 1964-65 (2007)). While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, courts "are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences." Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

While prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are still entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor, the pleading standard is now higher, Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted), and to survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at __, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at __, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

II. Plaintiff's Complaints

A. Introduction

On January 24, 2011, Plaintiff filed, as a matter of right, what was entitled as an amended complaint. Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a). However, as Plaintiff included some claims arising from events which occurred after this action was filed, the pleading is in part a supplemental complaint, for which Plaintiff did not obtain the requisite leave of court. Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(d).

Due to Plaintiff's mistaken impression that he could add allegations and claims in his amended/supplemental complaint and still rely upon the allegations and claims set forth in his original complaint, the Court will address both pleadings. However, the Court will not make an exception, a second time around, to the rule that an amended pleading supercedes all prior pleadings and must be complete within itself without reference to the prior pleadings. Forsyth v. Humana, Inc., 114 F.3d 1467, 1474 (9th Cir. 1997); King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987); Local Rule 220.

Further, Plaintiff may not add new claims which are unexhausted, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 211, 127 S.Ct. 910 (2007); McKinney v. Carey, 311 F.3d 1198, 1199-1201 (9th Cir. 2002), and applicable joinder rules preclude Plaintiff from adding new, unrelated claims against new parties, Fed. R. Civ. P. 18(a), 20(a)(2); Owens v. Hinsley, 635 F.3d 950, 952 (7th Cir. 2011); George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). Plaintiff will, for the reasons set forth below, be granted leave to amend. In amending, Plaintiff must comply with the directives set forth herein.

B. Original Complaint

1. Summary of Allegations

Plaintiff was transferred to Pleasant Valley State Prison on December 23, 2009, and during processing through receiving and release, Defendants Witt and Valencia accused him of being an extremist, questioned him about being a terrorist, and confiscated his religious material, including his prayer rug, prayer oil, and holy Quran. Approximately one month later, Plaintiff received his religious material back, with the exception of his prayer oil.

On January 13, 2010, Plaintiff appeared for his unit classification committee meeting and he was questioned about his religious beliefs by Defendant Shannon. Defendant McGaha interrupted and stated that Plaintiff was a member of the prison gang Ansar El Muhammad; Defendant Shannon stated that if he got word Plaintiff was involved in any jihadist activities, he would put him in administrative segregation.

Plaintiff filed an inmate appeal grieving the inclusion in his prison records of false information that he was a member of Ansar El Muhammad. Plaintiff was interviewed by Defendant Fellow on June 3, 2010, who insisted Plaintiff was involved with or had ties to jihadist activities in prison. Defendant told Plaintiff that he was being investigated by an institutional gang investigator. After the interview, Plaintiff discovered his cell had been tossed and baby powder and lotion had been poured on his Quran.

On June 9, 2010, Plaintiff appeared for his annual program review meeting and was questioned regarding his religious beliefs. On June 18, 2010, and July 14, 2010, Defendants Davis and Yates, respectively, denied Plaintiff's inmate appeal regarding the removal of the gang information from his file.

On August 19, 2010, Defendant DeArmond used abusive, denigrating language toward Plaintiff for reporting that ...

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