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Danny Romero v. John N. Katavich

February 14, 2012

DANNY ROMERO,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN N. KATAVICH, ET. AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael J. Seng United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND, FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM (ECF No. 1) AMENDED COMPLAINT DUE WITHIN THIRTY DAYS

Plaintiff Danny Romero ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Plaintiff initiated this action on June 9, 2011. (ECF No. 1.) No other parties have appeared. Plaintiff's Complaint is now before the Court for screening.

For the reasons stated below, the Court finds that Plaintiff fails to state a cognizable claim. He will be given leave to amend.

I. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

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 fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),(2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 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, ____ U.S. ____, ____, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 1949-50.

II. PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS

Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Centinela State Prison. He was housed at Wasco State Prison ("WSP") when the events at issue in the Complaint occurred. Plaintiff alleges he suffered harsh and restrictive confinement and inadequate medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment; was denied Fourteenth Amendment due process rights; and was retaliated against in violation of the First Amendment. Plaintiff also attributes violation of unnamed rights to a Defendant's failure to train subordinates.

Plaintiff names the following individuals as Defendants: 1) John N. Katavich, Warden or Associate Warden of WSP, 2) P.L. Vasquez, Warden/Associate Warden, 3) A. Acala, Counselor C.C.I., 4) Captain Kiebler of a facility at WSP, 5) C/O B. Salas, 6) Correctional Officer Blanco, 7) Correctional Officer Contreras, 8) Correctional Officer Rivera, 9) Correctional Officer Amacer, and 10) California Department of Corrections.

Plaintiff asks that each Defendant be held accountable for his or her actions. Plaintiff also asks that he and his loved ones be compensated for distress suffered as a result of Defendants' actions.

Plaintiff's various allegations are brief, conclusory, and, quite frankly, seem to itemize every event at WSP, no matter how insignificant, that has caused him offense.*fn1

His allegations are as follows: 1) Defendants Katavich and Vasquez, wardens at WSP, allowed their staff employees to improperly run the California Out of State Correctional Facility Program ("COCF Program"), a program for transferring inmates out of state. (Compl. at 3.) From September 2010 to April 2011, unnamed staff employees treated inmates in this program as if they had contagious diseases and denied them clothing, cleaning supplies, and access to the canteen to buy cosmetics. (Id.)

2) Defendant Acala, Plaintiff's counselor, discussed Plaintiff's personal and private information with someone other than Plaintiff in May 2011. (Compl. at 3.) Plaintiff did not consent to Defendant Acala's disclosure. Plaintiff's privacy rights were violated. (Id.)

3) Defendant Salas denied Plaintiff's medical care even though he knew Plaintiff had an appointment and needed medical attention. (Id.)

4) Defendant Blanco did not allow Plaintiff to fill out the proper forms to see a doctor for head, chest and tooth pain. (Compl. at 3.) Defendant Blanco told Plaintiff to "man up" and advised Plaintiff that if he saw the doctor, he would be "kept here longer"; Plaintiff took that as a threat. (Id.)

5) Defendant Rivera did not give Plaintiff his lunch. (Compl. at 4.) Defendant Rivera told Plaintiff that if he wished to continue to "have a Mexican/Southern, Porter/Worker" then he should not complain. (Id.) Plaintiff interpreted this as a threat.

6) Plaintiff and others were without hot water from May 12 to May 19 of 2011. (Compl. at 4.) Plaintiff asked Defendant Contreras why the hot water had been out for so long. Defendant Contreras responded that correctional officers were not plumbers and could not fix the problem. (Id.) Defendant Contreras told Plaintiff to deal with it. (Id.) Only after other inmates complained did Sergeant Lopez respond. (Id.) Plaintiff believes that Defendant Contreras' response amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

7) Defendant Amacer is a correctional officer in 4-building, A facility. (Compl. at 4.) Plaintiff asked him for a 602 form, and he questioned why Plaintiff and other inmates kept filing out 602s since they just ended up in the trash. (Id.)

8) Defendant Kiebler, the A-facility captain, on April 28, 2011, told the inmates they would be able to have visitors immediately. (Id.) However, prisoners did not have writing material or telephone access to enable them to so inform their relatives. (Id.) When the prisoners advised Defendant Kiebler of this, he told them they would receive writing material and relatives simply needed to show up at the prison without appointments. (Id.) Plaintiff's wife, then eight months pregnant, came to the prison but was not allowed to see Plaintiff. (Id.) She became so distressed that she had to see her doctor. (Id.) She also advised Plaintiff their daughter had been crying because she could not see her father. (Id.) Plaintiff's wife blamed him for not being able to have visitors because he was housed in the COCF Program. (Compl. at 5.) The conditions in the COCF Program are inhuman. Inmates are not allowed to have cleaning supplies for long periods of time and are only allowed to change clothing once a week. Defendant Kiebler could easily have obtained these things for the inmates just as he obtained writing materials for them. (Id.)

9) Defendant California Department of Corrections allowed their employees to treat its inmates improperly even though it had the responsibility to train them.

III. ANALYSIS

Section 1983 "provides a cause of action for the 'deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws' of the United States." Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989).

To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Ketchum v. Alameda Cnty., 811 F.2d 1243, 1245 (9th Cir.1987).

A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 18(a)

Fed. R. Civ. P. 18(a) states that "[a] party asserting a claim to relief as an original claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim, may join, either as independent or as alternate claims, as many claims, legal, equitable, or maritime, as the party has against an opposing party." "Thus multiple claims against a single party are fine, but Claim A against Defendant 1 should not be joined with unrelated Claim B against Defendant 2. Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits, not only to prevent the sort of morass [a multiple claim, multiple defendant] suit produce[s], but also to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees-for the Prison Litigation Reform Act limits to 3 the number of frivolous suits or appeals that any prisoner may file without prepayment of the required fees. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g)." George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007).

The fact that claims are premised on the same type of constitutional violation(s) (i.e. deliberate indifference) against multiple defendants does not make them factually related. Claims are related where they are based on the same precipitating event, or a series of related events caused by the same precipitating event.

The First Amended Complaint contains a number of unrelated claims in violation of rule 18. The Court identifies seven distinct groupings of unrelated claims in Plaintiff's allegations: (1) Eighth Amendment claims against Defendants Katavich, Vasquez, Contreras, and Kiebler for harsh and restrictive conditions of confinement; (2) Fourteenth Amendment due process claim against Defendants Acala for disclosure of Plaintiff's private information; (3) Fourteenth Amendment due process claim against Defendant Amacer for prison grievance system involvement in or knowledge of; (4) Eighth Amendment claims against Defendant Salas for inadequate medical care; (5) Eighth Amendment claim for inadequate medical care and First Amendment claims for retaliation against Defendant Blanco, (6) First Amendment retaliation claim against Defendant Rivera; (7) failure to train claim against the California Department of Corrections.

The Court will review and discuss all of Plaintiff's claims and the law applicable to them so that Plaintiff might evaluate which, if any, he feels may be and should be pursued here and which, if any, ...


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