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Meritt Webb v. Fernando Gonzales

May 30, 2012


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


Plaintiff Meritt Webb ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Plaintiff initiated this action on May 24, 2011. (Compl., ECF No. 1.) The Court screened Plaintiff's initial Complaint, dismissed it for failure to state a claim, and gave Plaintiff leave to amend. (ECF No. 9.) Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint on March 30, 2012, and it is now before the Court for screening. (Am. Compl., ECF No. 10.)

The Court finds that Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint fails to state a claim.


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.


Plaintiff is a state prisoner currently confined at Calipatria State Prison. Plaintiff was previously confined at California Correctional Institution at Tehachapi, California ("CCI"). He brings this action alleging violations of his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff names the following individuals as defendants: 1) Fernando Gonzales, CCI Warden, 2) D. Zanchi, facility captain, 2) M. Bryant, facility captain, 3) Jerry Negrete, associate warden, 4) M. Hetzel, 5) M. Nipper, correctional counselor, 6) E. Stelter, correctional counselor, 7) C. Deleon, correctional officer, and 8) A. Solis, correctional officer. All of the Defendants are named in their individual and official capacities.

Plaintiff asks for nominal and punitive damages in amounts to be determined by the jury.

Plaintiff's allegations are rambling and unclear. The Court, after some effort, concludes they attempt to assert the following:

Defendants Deleon, Soliz, and Zanchi retaliated against Plaintiff for exercising his First Amendment right to participate in the Men's Advisory Council ("MAC"). (Am. Compl. at 12.) At a MAC meeting in June 2009, Plaintiff spoke with prison administrators on behalf of general population inmates and Defendant Zanchi told Plaintiff "We will see what all this complaining will get you." (Id. at 8-9.) After the meeting, there was an incident between Plaintiff's cell-mate and prison officials, and Defendant Zanchi claimed Plaintiff had incited his cell-mate to assault staff without any evidence of this. (Id. at 8.) As a result of the incident, Defendants retaliated against Plaintiff by placing him in Administrative Segregation ("Ad-Seg"). (Id.) Plaintiff believes the "the timing of the events that were used as a pretext to place [him] in Ad-Seg and the fact that another person's action's. . . were used to place [him] in Ad-Seg. . . are telling." (Id.) The retaliation was motivated by Plaintiff's letter to Chief Deputy Warden Holland informing him that Defendant Zanchi had been lying to the MAC. (Id. at 9-10.)

Defendant Hetzel violated Plaintiff's rights by refusing to conduct an investigation into the incident. (Am. Compl. at 5.) Defendant Hetzel did this in retaliation for Plaintiff telling her he would file a grievance for the difficulties he encountered in learning her name. (Id.) Due to her actions, Plaintiff was placed in Ad-Seg for five months, subjecting him to an atypical hardship. (Id.)

Defendants Stelter, Bryant, and Nipper violated Plaintiff's rights by failing to have Plaintiff receive sufficient process after he was placed in Ad-Seg. (Am. Compl. at 4, 11, 12). Defendants allowed Plaintiff to be placed in Ad-Seg from approximately July 9, 2009 to January 12, 2010, ...

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