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Paul Adams v. Larry Small

January 31, 2012

PAUL ADAMS,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
LARRY SMALL, ET AL.,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Michael M. Anello United States District Judge

ORDER: (1) GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS; [Doc. Nos. 31, 33, 47] (2) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT MOTION TO AMEND HIS [Doc. No. 45]

On February 28, 2011 , Plaintiff Paul Adams, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a Second Amended Complaint [Doc. No. 15] alleging various violations of his civil rights by numerous prison officials, pursuant to Title 42 of the United States Code, section 1983. This matter is currently before the Court for the resolution of the following pending motions: (1) Defendants Aceves, Anaya, Ochoa, Silva, Small, and Trujillo's motion to dismiss [Doc. No. 31]; (2) Defendant Cate's motion to dismiss [Doc. No. 33]; (3) Plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint [Doc. No. 45]; and (4) Defendant Waters and Foston's motion to dismiss [Doc. No. 47]. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS the pending motions to dismiss and DENIES Plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff complains of events beginning on or about December 10, 2007 at California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi, California, and continuing after Plaintiff's transfer to Calipatria State Prison in Calipatria, California.*fn1 The following description of events is taken from the pleadings and is not to be construed as findings of fact by the Court.*fn2

On December 10, 2007, Plaintiff was received by officials at California Correctional Institution ("CCI") in Tehachapi, California, and processed for purposes of determining any potential gang affiliations prior to long term placement at another facility. Defendant Waters, reception counselor, interviewed Plaintiff, asking him a series of personal questions. Plaintiff advised Defendant Waters regarding his date of birth -- June 18, 1974; his place of birth -- Hollywood; his race -- "Gypsy"; his housing preference -- with Hispanics; and his gang affiliation -- none. Defendant Waters then asked Plaintiff to remove his shirt so that his tattoos could be photographed. Among his many tattoos, Plaintiff has a tattoo on his belly that spells out "GYPSY," and the initial "GMKE" on his right bicep. When asked, Plaintiff advised Defendant Waters that the initials GMKE stand for "Gypsy Music Kings Empire," a music studio he was attempting to establish prior to his incarceration. Plaintiff maintained that he was not affiliated with a gang.

According to Plaintiff, based on his tattoos, Defendant Waters falsely recorded in his Central File ("C-File") that Plaintiff is affiliated with the Gypsy Music Kings Souther Siders gang, and that his ethnicity is Mexican (rather than Gypsy). Based on this inaccurate information, Plaintiff received a gang classification score of 60 points, which resulted in Plaintiff's placement in Level IV maximum security for an extra year and a half.*fn3

On October 2, 2009, Plaintiff received an Inmate 128-G Classification chrono and discovered for the first time that Defendant Waters has falsely recorded him as affiliated with the Gypsy Music Kings South Siders gang. Plaintiff contacted his assigned case worker, Defendant Aceves, who confirmed the classification, advised Plaintiff that his gang affiliation status negatively impacted his status, and informed Plaintiff that he would have the opportunity to challenge the classification at his next appearance before a classification committee. Thereafter, on October 6, 2009, Plaintiff submitted a CDC 602 form, appealing his classification as a gang member. Defendants Silva and Trujillo were assigned to interview Plaintiff regarding the appeal. Plaintiff claims that although Defendants Silva and Trujillo investigated and discovered that Plaintiff was not a gang member, they refused to correct his C-File. Plaintiff appealed to the Second Level of review and his appeal was partially granted by Defendant Ochoa, who concluded that there was insufficient information available to document Plaintiff's affiliation with the Gypsy Music Kings South Siders.

Based on this partial grant, Plaintiff appealed to the Director's Level of review. Defendants Wilkins and Foston denied his appeal, finding that Plaintiff's allegations of inaccuracies in his C-File were contradicted by documentation confirming his ethnicity as Hispanic/Mexican and his gang status as an active member of the Gypsy Music Kings South Siders. As such, Defendants Wilkins and Foston found Plaintiff's request to have the alleged errors in his C-File corrected to be without merit.

On October 27, 2009, Plaintiff met with a classification committee, consisting of Defendants Aceves and Anaya, where he explained that his records were inaccurate and that he was not affiliated with any gang. According to Plaintiff, the committee members rejected his contentions regarding the falsification of his C-File and the inaccuracy of classification as a gang member.

Based on these events, Plaintiff alleges violations of his First Amendment right to freedom of association and his Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process and equal protection.

DISCUSSION

1. Legal Standard

A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the claims in the complaint. See Davis v. Monroe County Bd. of Educ., 526 U.S. 629, 633 (1999). "The old formula -- that the complaint must not be dismissed unless it is beyond doubt without merit -- was discarded by the Bell Atlantic decision [Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 563 n.8 (2007)]." Limestone Dev. Corp. v. Vill. of Lemont, 520 F.3d 797, 803 (7th Cir. 2008).

A complaint must be dismissed if it does not contain "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 570. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009). The court must accept as true all material allegations in the complaint, as well as reasonable inferences to be drawn from them, and must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Cholla Ready Mix, Inc. v. Civish, 382 F.3d 969, 973 (9th Cir. 2004), citing Karam v. City of ...


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