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Jorge Ornelas v. Kathleen Dickinson

August 20, 2012


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


Plaintiff Jorge Ornelas ("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 has consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. (ECF No. 6.)

Plaintiff, along with inmates Mario Gonzales, Anthony Bray, Vincent Alvarez, and Leonel Guzman, initiated this action on April 6, 2012. (Compl., ECF No. 1.) On May 3, 2012, the Court severed these other individuals' claims, and directed the Clerk of Court to open new separate civil actions for Gonzales, Bray, Alvarez, and Guzman. (ECF No. 7.)

Jorge Ornelas is now the sole plaintiff in this action. Plaintiff's Complaint is currently 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).

42 U.S.C. § 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). 42 U.S.C. § 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 is currently incarcerated at Avenal State Prison ("ASP"), where all of the events alleged in his Complaint occurred. Plaintiff alleges that the following individuals violated his rights under the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as the Information Practices Act and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985, 1997: 1) Kathleen Dickinson, Associate Director, 2) James D. Hartley, Warden of ASP, 3) Ron Davis, Chief Deputy at ASP, 4) Captain Biaggini, ASP F-Six, 5) L. Lopez, Appeals Coordinator at ASP, 6) Sergeant Kramer, ASP F-Six, 7) Sergeant Riddle, ASP F-Six, 8) J. Robles, Correctional Officer at ASP, 9) Officer Hein, ASP F650, and 10) Warden's Advisory Group.

Plaintiff alleges as follows:

In February 2008, after two riots involving Fresno Bulldog inmates and Southern Hispanic inmates, ASP placed Facility Six on a modified program. (Compl. at 5.) On March 18 and June 17, 2009, fights erupted after Defendant Hartley directed inmates from each gang to go on the yard. (Id.) On July 7, 2009, Defendant Hartley issued a report, finding that Southern Hispanic inmates were willing to program without engaging in violence, but Fresno Bulldogs inmates were not, and the Southern Hispanics inmates were given privileges. (Id.) The following year, the Warden and the Secretary of CDCR noted that violence between the two factions was likely. (Id.)

On October 28, 2011, Southern Hispanic inmates were asked by Defendants Robles and Riddle to sign a statement which indicated they were willing to program. (Compl. at 7.) This policy was implemented by Defendants Dickinson, Hartley, Davis, and the Warden's Advisory Group even though they knew violence between Southern Hispanics and Fresno Bulldogs inmates was still likely. (Id. at 8.) Secretary Cate did not intercede to prevent Defendants Hartley, Davis, and the Warden's Advisory Group from implementing a Willingness to Program policy, and other alternatives were not considered. (Id. at 12-13.) Around this time, any inmates who refused to participate in "staged events" lost certain privileges. (Id. at 9.)

On November 8, 2011, Defendant Hein and other officials had inmates Gonzales, Bray, Alvarez, and Guzman (original plaintiffs in this action) integrate into other housing units, even though prison officials knew this could lead to violence. (Compl. at 10.) A day later, there was a fight between the Southern Hispanics inmates transferred for integration purposes and their Fresno Bulldog neighbors. (Id.) Southern Hispanic inmates housed in another unit also lost privileges, even though they did not participate. (Id.)

In December 2011, Plaintiff filed a group appeal regarding the injustices Southern Hispanic inmates had endured. (Compl. at 10.) On December 16, 2011, Plaintiff was interviewed regarding his appeal. (Id. at 14.) A lieutenant told Plaintiff that his appeal would be processed as a staff complaint even though Plaintiff told him it was not a group appeal. (Id. at 19-20.) Defendant Baggini told Southern Hispanic inmates that their appeal would go nowhere, and Defendant Lopez tried to prevent them from seeking a remedy. (Id. at 20.) Defendant Lopez knowingly changed the designation of the appeal for an unlawful purpose. (Id.) Defendants Davis cancelled the appeal with Defendant Hartley's approval, and noted that it might not be submitted to the Director's Level because Plaintiff refused to convert it into a staff complaint. (Id. at 21.) The appeal was returned to Plaintiff on January 9, 2012. (Id. at 22.) Defendants Hartley and Dickinson were trying to punish Southern Hispanic inmates by taking away their remedies. (Id. at 21.)

Also in December 2011, Defendants Biaggini removed Southern Hispanic inmates from their prison jobs for refusing to integrate with Fresno Bulldog inmates. (Compl. at 12-13.) Around the same time, Defendant Kramer and Davis tried to have Southern Hispanic inmates integrate with Fresno Bulldog inmates, and said there would be reprisals if they did not. (Id. at 13, 19.) These individuals created circumstances likely to lead to violence. (Id.)

In January 2012, Defendant Biaggini started moving some Southern Hispanic inmates to different housing units and took away various privileges they had earned. (Compl. at 22.) These inmates need injunctive relief to protect them from Defendants Dickinson, Hartley, Davis, and the Warden's Advisory Group. (Id.)

Plaintiff needs injunctive relief requiring the removal of information created by Defendants and placed in his file. (Compl. at 24.)

Defendant Dickinson violated Plaintiff's violated Plaintiff's rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Compl. at 25.) Defendants Hartley, Davis, Biaggini, and Lopez violated Plaintiff's due process and equal protection rights by failing to ensure that Plaintiff had an adequate redress process. (Id.) Defendants violated Plaintiff's rights under the Information Practices Act, Due Process Clause, and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985, 1997 by placing false information in his file and could use it to deprive Plaintiff of certain rights and privileges in the future. (Id. at 25-26.)

Plaintiff asks for a jury trial, class certification, injunctive relief, declaratory relief, compensatory damages, and punitive damages. (Compl. at 26-27.


A. 42 U.S.C. ยง ...

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