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Davon E. Mccoy v. J. Stratton

August 2, 2012

DAVON E. MCCOY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
J. STRATTON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



ORDER

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se. Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § and has filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. This proceeding was referred to the undersigned magistrate judge in accordance with Local Rule 302 and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

Plaintiff has submitted an in forma pauperis application that makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Accordingly, plaintiff will be granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis.

Plaintiff is required to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for this action. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a) & 1915(b)(1). An initial partial filing fee will be assessed by this order. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). By separate order, the court will direct the appropriate agency to collect the initial partial filing fee from plaintiff's prison trust account and forward it to the Clerk of the Court. Thereafter, plaintiff will be obligated to make monthly payments of twenty percent of the preceding month's income credited to plaintiff's prison trust account. These payments will be collected and forwarded by the appropriate agency to the Clerk of the Court each time the amount in plaintiff's account exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee is paid in full. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

SCREENING REQUIREMENT

The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) & (2).

A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). The court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis. See Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989); Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.

Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "requires only 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). However, in order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim a complaint must contain more than "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action;" it must contain factual allegations sufficient "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555. In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Rex Hospital Trustees, 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976), construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969).

The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides as follows: Every person who, under color of [state law] . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution . . . shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.

42 U.S.C. § 1983. The statute requires that there be an actual connection or link between the actions of the defendants and the deprivation alleged to have been suffered by plaintiff. See Monell v. Department of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976). "A person 'subjects' another to the deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of § 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made." Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978).

Moreover, supervisory personnel are generally not liable under § 1983 for the actions of their employees under a theory of respondeat superior and, therefore, when a named defendant holds a supervisorial position, the causal link between him and the claimed constitutional violation must be specifically alleged. See Fayle v. Stapley, 607 F.2d 858, 862 (9th Cir. 1979); Mosher v. Saalfeld, 589 F.2d 438, 441 (9th Cir. 1978). Vague and conclusory allegations concerning the involvement of official personnel in civil rights violations are not sufficient. See Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).

PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

In his complaint, plaintiff has named CSP-Sacramento Officers Stratton, Epp, Barnes, Hughes, Ding Felder, Jacinto, Sweeney, Salazar, Armstrong, Grinde, and John Does 1-8 as the defendants. Plaintiff alleges that he was temporarily transferred from Salinas Valley State Prison to CSP-Sacramento because he had a court appearance that he needed to attend. He further alleges that, as the defendants were escorting him, defendants Stratton and Epp pushed him against the cages face first, and defendants Stratton, Epp, and Ding Felder then body slammed him face-first into the concrete. Plaintiff alleges that defendants Barnes, Hughes, and Sweeney also joined in the attack and kicked, punched, and choked him until plaintiff lost consciousness. According to plaintiff, the defendants eventually carried him to the emergency medical unit where defendant Grinde questioned him about the events that had just taken place. Plaintiff notes that he never saw or spoke to an actual doctor regarding the injuries he sustained during the incident. Plaintiff alleges that he was subsequently placed in a cell without running water and issued a prison rules violation report for Battery on a Peace Officer. Plaintiff claims that the named defendants have violated his constitutional rights because they used excessive force against him, were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, retaliated against him, and illegally placed him in administrative segregation pending his hearing on the prison rules violation report. (Compl. at 11 & Attachs.)

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff's complaint appears to state cognizable claims for relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Specifically, the court finds that plaintiff's complaint appears to state an Eighth Amendment excessive use of force claim against defendants Stratton, Epp, Ding Felder, Barnes, Hughes, and Sweeney. See Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 5-7 (1992) ("whenever prison officials stand accused of using excessive physical force in violation of the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause, the core judicial inquiry is . . . whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and sadistically to cause harm."); see also El -Shaddai v. Wheeler, No. CIV S-06-1898 KJM EFB P, 2011 WL 1332044 at *5 (E.D. Cal. Apr. 5, 2011) (finding that an Eighth Amendment excessive use of force claim is not barred under Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) because "a judgment for plaintiff on his Eighth Amendment claim would not necessarily imply the invalidity of his disciplinary conviction" for willfully resisting a peace officer); Gipbsin v. Kernan, No. CIV S-07-0157 MCE EFB P, 2011 WL 533701 at *5-*7 (E.D. Cal. Feb. 11, 2011) (finding that an Eighth Amendment excessive use of force claim is not Heck-barred because success on plaintiff's claim would not necessarily negate his disciplinary conviction for battery on a peace officer or his criminal conviction in state court for battery); Meadows v. Porter, No. S-07-0475 HDM RAM, 2009 WL 3233902 at *2 (E.D. Cal. Oct. 2, 2009) (finding that an Eighth Amendment excessive use of force claim is not Heck-barred because a finding that an officer "responded to the attempted battery with excessive force would not negate any of the elements of attempted battery. And although the two incidents are closely related and occurred one right after the other, they are separate and distinct events."); Candler v. Woodford, ...


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