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Donald Ray Robinson v. Terri L. Gonzalez

February 7, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Mcdermott United States Magistrate Judge


On July 18, 2011, Donald Ray Robinson ("Plaintiff"), a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Complaint").

On August 22, 2011, the Court issued an Order Dismissing Complaint With Leave to Amend. On November 15, 2011, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC").


In accordance with the provisions governing in forma pauperis proceedings, the Court must screen the Complaint before ordering service to determine whether the action:

(1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). This screening is governed by the following standards:

A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law for failure to state a claim for two reasons: (1) the plaintiff fails to state a cognizable legal theory; or (2) the plaintiff has alleged insufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). In determining whether a complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted, allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Love v. United States, 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir. 1988). However, "the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). "'[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled.'" Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).

Although a complaint "does not need detailed factual allegations" to survive dismissal, a plaintiff must provide "more than mere labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (rejecting the traditional "no set of facts" standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). The complaint must contain factual allegations sufficient to rise above the "speculative level" (Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555), or the merely possible or conceivable. Id. at 557, 570.

Simply put, the complaint must contain "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. A claim has facial plausibility when the complaint presents enough facts "to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, __, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). This standard is not a probability requirement, but "it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. A complaint that pleads facts that are merely consistent with liability stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility. Id.

In a pro se civil rights case, the complaint must be construed liberally to afford plaintiff the benefit of any doubt. Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dept, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988). Before dismissing a pro se civil rights complaint for failure to state a claim, the plaintiff should be given a statement of the complaint's deficiencies and an opportunity to cure. Id. Only if it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies cannot be cured by amendment should the complaint be dismissed without leave to amend. Id. at 623; see also Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995).

Although the Court must construe a pro se plaintiff's complaint liberally, Plaintiff nonetheless must allege a minimum factual and legal basis for each claim that is sufficient to give each defendant fair notice of what Plaintiff's claims are and the grounds upon which they rest. Brazil v. United States Department of the Navy, 66 F.3d 193, 199 (9th Cir. 1995).

After careful review and consideration of the FAC under the relevant standards and for the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that the FAC is inadequate to withstand screening and ORDERS the FAC DISMISSED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.


Plaintiff alleges the following:

Upon Plaintiff's arrival at the California Men's Colony ("CMC") in San Luis Obispo, California, prison officials improperly classified Plaintiff as a gang member and held him in segregated housing too long and without a proper hearing or any reliable evidence, all in violation of prison regulations and due process. Plaintiff challenges his initial placement in the Administrative Segregation Unit ("ASU"), subsequent decisions by several Institutional Classification Committees ("ICCs") to retain him in the ASU, his ultimate validation as a member of the Black Guerilla Family ("BGF") prison gang and United Blood Nation ("UBN") disruptive group,*fn1 his resulting assessment of an indeterminate term in the Secured Housing Unit ("SHU") at the California State Prison at Corcoran ("CSP-Corcoran"), as well as administrative appeal decisions addressing his claims regarding the prison's validation procedures. (See FAC at 5-19, Exhs. B-J.)

Prison officials were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and violated prison regulations when they failed to provide him with adequate pain medication, took away his knee and ankle brace, failed to move him to a lower tier, lower bunk as ordered by prison physicians, and otherwise failed to provide him with proper treatment for his knee and ankle pain. (See FAC at 20-26.)

Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages. (FAC at 44.)

Plaintiff also appears to bring a claim alleging violations of the Eighth Amendment in connection with his detention in the Secured Housing Unit at CSP-Corcoran. (FAC ¶¶ 148-154.) CSP-Corcoran is not located within this judicial district. To the extent that Plaintiff is bringing a claim based on the conditions of his confinement at CSP-Corcoran, it should be brought in a separate lawsuit in the Eastern District of California.


The Court, having reviewed the Complaint pursuant to the standards set forth above, has determined that certain of Plaintiff's claims do not withstand screening for the following reasons:

I. Plaintiff's Claims for Damages Against Defendants in Their Official Capacities Are Barred By the Eleventh Amendment Plaintiff has named each of the Defendants in ...

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