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Kelvin Houston v. Mike Knowles

March 16, 2012



Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in an action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case was referred to the undersigned under Local Rule 302(c)(17), pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Currently before the court are plaintiff's third amended complaint (Dckt. No. 98), plaintiff's motion to compel (Dckt. No. 88), and defendant's motion to depose plaintiff (Dckt. No. 87). For the reasons stated, plaintiff's complaint is dismissed with a final opportunity to amend, and the parties' discovery motions are therefore denied as moot.

I. Background

Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint "is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted," or "seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." Id. § 1915A(b).

On July 17, 2009, the undersigned granted plaintiff's request for leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, but dismissed plaintiff's complaint with leave to amend pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Dckt. No. 19. The order noted that the complaint was so prolix and obscure it violated Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 8 and 10(b). Id. The order also informed plaintiff that claims against different defendants may be joined in the same action only if the claims arise from the same transaction or occurrence. Id. at 3 (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)). Plaintiff then filed a first amended complaint. Dckt. No. 20. On June 30, 2010, the undersigned dismissed plaintiff's first amended complaint, noting that it too violated Rule 8, and that plaintiff had "not altered the substance of his allegations to comply with the court's order that he make his allegations in a simple, concise, and direct manner." Dckt. No. 25 at 2.

On July 27, 2010, plaintiff filed a second amended complaint. Dckt. No. 28. The undersigned found that for the limited purposes of § 1915A screening, it stated cognizable claims for relief against defendants Knowles, Dickinson, Mitchell, Shankland, Olson, and Riley ("defendants"). Dckt. No. 29. Subsequently, defendants moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Dckt. Nos. 53, 62, 72, 78. In addressing their motion, through findings and recommendations dated August 30, 2011, the undersigned noted that plaintiff had purported to bring claims based on alleged violations of his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and that he had also alleged an unrelated access to the courts claim against defendant Riley. Dckt. No. 95 at 6, 7.The undersigned recommended that defendants' motion to dismiss be granted, and that plaintiff's complaint be dismissed with leave to amend to cure the specific deficiencies identified in the recommendations. Id. On September 27, 2011, the district judge assigned to his action adopted the findings and recommendations in full, and on October 5, 2011, plaintiff filed a third amended complaint. Dckt. Nos. 97, 98.

II. Third Amended Complaint

In the third amended complaint, plaintiff alleges generally that defendants wrongfully placed him in administrative segregation "to persuade [him] to stop filing appeals in pursuit of his rights, and cruelly subjected [him] to a life-endangering living environment in hopes that [he] would die or be rendered incapacitated which would also be a way they could influence [him] to not be able to file appeals against CDCR staff in pursuit of his rights." Dckt. No. 98 at 9. Plaintiff makes more specific allegations regarding each of the named defendants -- Olson Shankland, Dickinson, Mitchell, Knowles, Riley and a Doe defendant, as set forth below.

A. Defendants Olson and Shankland

Plaintiff alleges that after he was transferred to California Medical Facility, defendants Olson and Shankland told him he was being placed in administrative segregation because two female officers that he had allegedly sexually battered several years prior, were current employees. Dckt. No. 98 at 4. Plaintiff claims Olson falsified a document to have him placed in administrative segregation. Id. As a result, plaintiff claims he was forced to defend against "a false crime that never happened," and was denied procedural protections in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Id. at 5. Plaintiff claims Shankland also falsified documents in order to detain plaintiff and to cause plaintiff to be denied certain procedural protections. Id. at 5.

B. Defendants Dickinson, Mitchell, Knowles

Plaintiff alleges that defendant Dickinson was the chairperson of the Institutional Classification Committee during a hearing in which that committee elected to retain plaintiff in administrative segregation, on the basis of information known to be false. Id. at 5.

Plaintiff alleges defendant Mitchell approved a response to plaintiff's administrative appeal at the second level of review, from which it can be "inferred" that she "acknowledged she knew" that the documents used to send plaintiff to administrative segregation were false. Id. at Plaintiff alleges that defendant Knowles "finalized" the response to plaintiff's inmate appeal at the second level of review, which "established an inference that at that point [he was] fully aware" that plaintiff's placement in administrative segregation was based on a "false contrived document." Id. at 8.

Plaintiff claims that through Dickinson, Mitchell, and Knowles' "omissions to act," they allowed plaintiff's due process rights to be violated, which "elevated into an Eighth Amendment violation." Id. at 6, 7, 9. Plaintiff further alleges that they were aware that plaintiff was a dialysis patient and knew that staff assigned to administrative segregation had "frequent problems" getting the cell doors to open, and that if plaintiff had started "bleeding out as does happen to dialysis patients on occasion after treatments, with staff unable to open the cell door in time during such an emergency, plaintiff could very well have bled to death . . . ." Id. at 6, 7, 9. Plaintiff also claims their purpose was for "oppressing plaintiff in retaliation for plaintiff having filed numerous appeals against CDCR staff." Id. at 6, 7, 9.

C. Defendant Riley

Plaintiff alleges that while in administrate segregation, he was denied access to his legal property, and that as a result, he missed a deadline in a case he had pending in the Kings County Superior Court. Id. at 6. He alleges that defendant Riley told plaintiff he could not have any of his legal property unless he withdrew the administrative appeal he had filed regarding his placement in administrative segregation. Id. Plaintiff contends this violated his right to due process and his right to equal protection of the law because "other inmates of the ...

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