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Dwayne Swearington v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

July 27, 2012


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



Plaintiff Dwayne Swearington is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights action originally filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California*fn1 (Compl., ECF No. 1) and transferred to the United State District Court for the Eastern District of California. (Order of Transfer, ECF No. 4.)

The Complaint is now before the Court for screening.


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, malicious," or 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).

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).


Plaintiff alleges:

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and medical and corrections staff violated his federal rights at an unspecified medical facility, at the California Men's Colony East (CMC), and during his current incarceration at North Kern State Prison (NKSP) as follows.

Unnamed staff at a CDCR medical facility retaliated against him by transferring him to CMC, a non-medical facility. (Compl. at 2.)

Unnamed staff at CMC caused him to have unnecessary surgery, and along with staff member Mrs. Lloyd violated unspecified CDCR policy by changing his custodial classification, terminating his medical single cell status, keeping his legal mail for up to 9 months causing loss of his United States District Court case,*fn2 and transferring him to NKSP in retaliation for filing a CDCR Form 22,*fn3 during which transfer his property and documents went missing. (Id.)

Unnamed staff at NKSP failed to honor prior medical chronos and respond to his Form 22 and unspecified prison appeal(s), discussed his confidential medical information publicly, and failed to do anything about his health problems including great pain, denying him the pain medication he requested. (Id.)

Plaintiff names the CDCR and Mrs. Lloyd, but no other specific defendants from whom he seeks relief. (Id. at 1-3.)

He seeks a transfer to a different CDCR facility, single cell status, an interview by a representative of the Court, a criminal investigation of the above activities, and injunctive relief from the danger to his life posed by improper medical attention and retaliation. (Id. at 2.)


A. Pleading Requirements Generally

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. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Ketchum v. Alameda Cnty., 811 F.2d 1243, 1245 (9th Cir. 1987).

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, 556 U.S. 662, 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.'" Id. 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.

B. 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) 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 Complaint contains a number of unrelated claims in violation of Rule 18(a). There are at least three distinct groupings of unrelated claims within Plaintiff's allegations:

(1) retaliation claims arising at an unspecified CDCR medical facility against unnamed defendants, (2) retaliation, medical indifference, due process and access to courts claims arising at CMC against unnamed defendants, and (3) medical indifference and due process claims arising at NKSP against unnamed defendants.*fn4

The Court will review and discuss all of Plaintiff's claims and the law applicable thereto so that Plaintiff might evaluate which, if any, may be and should be pursued here and which, if any, may be and should be pursued in different action(s).

Plaintiff must file a separate complaint for each unrelated claim against different defendants. If he does not, all unrelated claims will be subject to dismissal.

C. Personal Participation

To state a claim under § 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each individually named defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). The Supreme Court has emphasized that the term "supervisory liability," loosely and commonly used by both courts and litigants alike, is a misnomer. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant, through his or her own individual actions, violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights. Id. at 1948--49. Defendants can not be held liable under § 1983 solely because of their supervisory capacity.

Plaintiff sufficiently links Mrs. Lloyd to alleged rights deprivations. However, he fails to name and link anyone else to the alleged rights deprivations. Plaintiff may not proceed against other defendants unless he alleges facts plausibly claiming each personally ...

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