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Raymond Villa v. P.L. Vasquez

August 29, 2012


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



On December 7, 2009, Plaintiff Raymond Villa, a former state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) The Court issued an Order severing Plaintiff's claims from the initial lawsuit filed on behalf of Plaintiff and a number of other prisoners. (ECF No. 2.) On October 4, 2010, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 11.) Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 11) and Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 22) were screened and dismissed, with leave to amend, on December 29, 2011 and June 29, 2012, respectively, for failure to state cognizable claims. (ECF Nos. 15, 23.) Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint (ECF No. 24) 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).


The Third Amended Complaint names the following Wasco State Prison (Wasco) officials as Defendants: (1) P.L. Vasquez, Warden; (2) J. Ortega, Appeals Coordinator; (3) Reice, Correctional Officer (CO); (4) Rios, CO; (5) Ohara, CO; (6) John Doe 1, D Yard Captain; and (7) John Doe 2, D Yard Sergeant.

Plaintiff alleges the following:

There was an altercation between Bulldogs and Blacks (prison gangs) on November 9, 2009 in Building 4, D Yard. The incident was quickly resolved. Plaintiff was a Bulldog in Building 5, D Yard. Defendant Does 1 and 2 informed the inmates in Building 5 affiliated with either group not to retaliate as the situation was settled. Does 1 and 2 "willfully and unnecessarily" placed Plaintiff and the other affiliated Bulldog and Blacks in Building 5 on lockdown in spite of the fact that the situation had been resolved. (Compl. at 4.)

During the lockdown Plaintiff witnessed four white inmates jump a Bulldog. The Whites were only locked down for three days. Two weeks afterwards, Whites and Southerners rioted and each group received ten days punitive confinement. (Id. at 5.) Southerners attacked a correctional officer and only received thirty days of cell confinement. (Id. at 7.) Other groups and gangs at Wasco were involved in similar incidents and received little or no punishment while Plaintiff, his fellow Bulldogs, and the Blacks remained on lockdown. (Id. at 5.)

Defendants Ohara, Riece, and Rios were responsible for managing Plaintiff's confinement. (Id.) They denied Plaintiff access to a shower for one and a half weeks, after which Plaintiff was limited to no more than two opportunities to shower each week. (Id. at 5, 6.) At one point Defendant Rios told Plaintiff that, as a Bulldog, he should be used to dog baths. Plaintiff asked Riece if he would be given an opportunity to clean or mop his cell. Riece replied "'I thought you Dogs were use [sic] to rolling around in your own filth!'" (Id. at 6.)

Does 1 and 2 deprived Plaintiff of the minimum one hour per day, five days per week of exercise time during the lockdown. The Doe Defendants entered Building 5 and announced that Whites and Southerners regained canteen privileges after four days of restriction while Plaintiff, the Bulldogs, and Blacks remained locked out of the canteen. (Id.) Plaintiff protested the circumstances of the lockdown via an inmate appeal. Defendant Ortega denied the appeal. (Id. at 7.)

Plaintiff was confined to his cell nearly twenty-four hours per day for two and a half months. (Id.) Title 15 regulations require director or deputy director approval for lockdowns lasting more than ten days, so Warden Vasquez necessarily approved of Plaintiff's conditions. (Id. at 4.) Further, the lockdown conditions were so egregious ...

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