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R.C. ("Angela Brandywine") Toth v. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

August 30, 2012


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



Plaintiff R.C. ("Angela Brandywine") Toth ("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. 8.)

Plaintiff filed this action on February 14, 2011. (Compl., ECF No. 1.)*fn1 No other parties have appeared. Plaintiff's 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 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, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (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.

Cursory review of the Complaint satisfies the Court that it does not comply with the pleading requirements in a way that would enable the Court to determine if it contains hidden within it a cognizable cause of action. Given the demands imposed on this Court by the tremendous volume of these and voluminous other cases, it would not be practical nor fair to other litigants for the Court to spend the time necessary to go through this inordinately lengthy document to try to extract an identifiable, potentially cognizable claim, identify the facts, if any, related thereto and determine which, if any, Defendant(s) could possibly be held to answer. Instead, based upon review and identification of the various possible causes of action suggested, the Court will set out pleading standards applicable to each. Plaintiff will then be given the opportunity to re-plead in "a short and plain statement" a claim which meets those standards. Plaintiff will be required in that amended complaint to assert only related claims against only those Defendants who may credibly be alleged to be responsible for the facts giving rise to those claims. Facts unrelated to those claims will not be permitted. Claims not related to the single set or series of facts giving rise to those claims will not be permitted. Further, this Court can envision few claims which would need more than twenty pages to set them out. Thus, any amended filing which is longer than twenty pages will be viewed with great skepticism and may be rejected on that basis alone. Finally, any filing which does not comply with these instructions directing a short and plain statement or any filing which combines unrelated matters or defendants likely will result in dismissal with prejudice of the entire action.

II. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 CLAIMS

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). § 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).

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


Plaintiff is a transgender prisoner who was housed at Pleasant Valley State Prison ("PVSP") from March 8, 2007 to September 20, 2009. (Compl at 6.) Plaintiff claims the following Defendants have injured her in some way: 1) Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor, 2) Matthew L. Cate, Secretary of CDCR, 3) James Yates, Warden PVSP, 4) Felix Igbinosa, Chief Medical Officer, 5) William F. Alverez, Health Care Manager at PVSP, 6) C. Hudson-Huckabay, CCII/Appeals Coordinator at PVSP, 7) H. Martinez, CCII/Appeals Coordinator at PVSP, 8) J.A. Herrera, CCII/Appeals Coordinator at PVSP, 9) G. Duran, CCII/Appeals Coordinator at PVSP, 10) Unknown Contreras, Correctional Lieutenant as PVSP, 11) J.D. Bennett, Correctional Lieutenant as PVSP, 12) L. Lubken, Correctional Lieutenant as PVSP, 13) R. Corely, Correctional Lieutenant as PVSP, 14) Dr. Michael Mullan, Ph.D, Psychologist PVSP, 15) Dr. G. Huffman, Ph.D, Psychologist PVSP, 16) Dr. C. Silverstein, MD Senior Psychologist at PVSP, 17) Dr. Michael R. Martin, Ph.D, Psychologist PVSP, 18) D. Huckabay, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 19) E. Navarro, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 20) Unknown Cerda, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 21) A. Todd, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 22) Unknown Hosman, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 23) B. Martinez, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 24) Unknown Nevarez, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 25) G. Estrada, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 26) N. Green, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 27) K. Scott, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 28) R. Milam, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 29) D. Thompson, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 30) B. Diaz, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 31) P. Soares, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 32) E. Wolford, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 33) M. Hernandez, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 34) D.J. Hatten, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 35) R. Bridges, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 36) M. Simas, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 37) T. Lee, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 38) B. Gonzales, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 39) D. Criner, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 40) E. Pruitt, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 41) Unknown Griffin, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 42) W. Brumbaugh, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 43) H. Hernandez, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 44) Unknown Harper, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 45) Unknown Chastain, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 46) N. Garza, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 47) A. Rangel, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 48) Unknown Fregoso, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 49) Jenan, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 50) J. Adame, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 51) S. Santiago, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 52) J. Melendez, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 53) M. Depner, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 54) J. Tinajero, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 55) D. Powell, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 56) Unknown Sturkey, Correctional Sergeant at PVSP, 57) C. Saldana, LVN at PVSP, 58) S. Reyes, MSW at PVSP, 59-83) Does 1 through 25, inclusive.

Plaintiff alleges as follows:

Plaintiff was housed at PVSP from March 8, 2007 to September 20, 2009. (Compl. at 7.) During her time as PVSP she was subjected to a homophonic/transphobic environment and an atmosphere unsympathetic to transgendered ("TG") and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and/or Questionable ("LGBTQ") prisoners. (Id.) She was constantly faced with humiliation, unnecessary force, segregation placement, false reports, seizures, loss of property, cell searches, and assaults by other inmates. (Id.) Plaintiff incurred injuries as a result of this abuse. (Id.)

From March 15, 2007 to September 20, 2009, when she was transferred out of PVSP, Plaintiff interacted with Defendants Fregoso, Scott, Jenan, Adame, Santiago, Melendez, Depner, Tinajero, Powell, Todd, B. Martinez, Pruitt, Gonzales, Brumbaugh, Bennett, Lee, Griffin, Lubken, Green, Sturkey, Nevarez, Contreras, Cerda, Hosman, Huffman, Mullan, Martin, Silverstein, and certain Does. (Compl. at 7.) These Defendants were directly and/or constructively placed on notice of the imminent harms Plaintiff faced through her grievances, ignored them and allowed the abuses to continue. (Id.)

At PVSP, Plaintiff was denied adequate medical care; placed in Administrative Segregation ("Ad Seg") under severely restrictive conditions; and subjected to false Rules Violation Reports ("RVRs"), unnecessary uses of force, abuses, and preventable attacks by other prisoners, in retaliation for her efforts to file grievance reports. (Compl. at 6-9.) She filed grievances with Defendants Yates, Hudson-Huckabay, H. Martinez, Cerda, Todd, Scott, Estrada, Bennett, Lubken, and certain Does. (Id.) Some grievances were processed but many were not. (Id.) These Defendants took actions to retaliate against Plaintiff for filing appeals. (Id.) They were aware of her rapes, trauma, beatings, and abuses by homophobic/transphobic officers and heterosexual inmates as well as the mental and physical injuries that resulted from these abuses. (Id. at 14-15.)

During her time at PVSP, Plaintiff informed Defendants Yates, Hudson-Huckabay, H. Martinez, Herrera, Duran, Cate, Schwarzenegger, Saldana, Alvarez, Igbinosa, Reyes, Silverstein, Mullan, Huffman, Martin, and certain Does about her severe medical and psychological conditions, including Gender Identity Disorder/Gender Dysphoria ("GID/GD"), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder ("PTSD"), Rape Trauma Syndrome ("RTS"), and Battered Women's Syndrome ("BWS") and her need for treatment. (Compl. at 14.) PVSP did not staff any personnel qualified to provide on-site TG therapy or support. (Id. at 15.) PVSP did not train staff on how interact deal with LGBTQ prisoners. (Id.)

On March 15, 2007, Plaintiff was housed with inmate Ruiz, a mentally unstable prisoner, over her objections. (Compl. at 20.) Inmate Ruiz attacked her three days later to prove that he was not a homosexual. (Id.) Plaintiff was removed from her cell in only her underwear and shirt. (Id. at 10, 20.) Plaintiff told Defendant Estrada she could not live with heterosexual inmates. (Id. at 21.) Plaintiff was told she would be placed in Ad Seg if she refused to sign a document indicating that she could program with inmate Ruiz. (Id.) Plaintiff was issued a RVR for mutual combat and housed with another transphobic prisoner. (Id.)

Even though Plaintiff informed Defendants M. Hernandez and Huckabay of her inability to live safely with heterosexual prisoners, on June 21, 2007 she was housed with another heterosexual inmate. (Compl. at 21.) Defendant M. Hernandez incited the inmate to assault Plaintiff by informing him about Plaintiff's commitment circumstances and by promising to return the inmate's television and radio. (Id.) The inmate assaulted Plaintiff and she informed the night watchman who refused to get involved. (Id.) Defendants Lee and Green discovered the attack in the morning. (Id. at 21-22.) Plaintiff was unable to place the inmate on her enemy list and charge him with battery because she was threatened with Ad Seg placement. (Id.) In response to the attack, Defendants*fn2 housed Plaintiff's attacker three cells away from Plaintiff, and refused to inspect her "slice" wounds. (Id.) She was forced to sign a "compatibility chrono." (Id.) Defendant Green only reported some of the injures and parts of the incident. (Id.) Even though Plaintiff was injured and nformed Defendants Huckabay, M. Hernandez, Green, Lee, and certain Does of the escalating abuses and in-cell sexual pressuring, these Defendants refused to intervene. (Id. at 21.)

On September 3, 2007, Defendant Corely advised her that if she stopped filing grievances, she would be left alone. (Compl. at 8.)

On October 6, 2007, shortly after Plaintiff said she would file a grievance report against Defendants Simas and Lee for their sexually suggestive and discriminatory practices, Defendants Garza, Rangel, and certain Does responded to Plaintiff after activation of a personal alarm device. (Compl. at 10, 17.) Defendants Garza and Rangel injured Plaintiff's shoulder, even though Plaintiff did not offer any resistance. (Id. at 17.) They struck and punched Plaintiff, and used hostile, sexually suggestive, and discriminatory epithets against Plaintiff. (Id.) Plaintiff requested medical treatment from Defendants Navarro, Garza, Rangel, and certain Does, all of whom denied her request. (Id. at 10-11.) Plaintiff was given a RVR and transferred to the Secure Housing Unity ("SHU"). (Id. at 8.)

Around the same time, Plaintiff attempted to speak with Defendant Navarro, the on-duty supervisor, regarding the suggestive and discriminatory practices of Defendants Simas and Lee that occurred on October 6, 2007, and their efforts to tell others about Plaintiff's commitment circumstances. (Compl. at 7, 17.) She was given a RVR for threatening staff and placed in the SHU for 9 months, starting on November 15, 2007. (Id. at 7-8.)

On October 7, 2007, Plaintiff was placed in Ad Seg, where she remained until December 27, 2007.*fn3 (Compl. at 11.) She was raped, beaten, and abused during this time. (Id. at 11.) Defendants Pruitt, Scott, Gonzales, Melendez, Cerda, Bennett, Griffin, Brumbaugh, Hosman, Silverstein, Mullan, Martin, Hoffman, and certain Does refused to provide medical treatment after Plaintiff was subjected to sexual and physical abuse by other inmates between October 7, 2007 and December 27, 2007, and subjected to physical abuse by Defendants Melendez and Williams. (Id. at 11.) Also during this time, Defendants Pruitt, Melendez, Scott, Gonzales, Griffin, Brumbaugh, Bennett, and certain Does ignored Plaintiff's concerns and she was forced to live with inmates whom Defendants knew were a risk to Plaintiff's safety. (Id. at 22.) On October 16, 2007, Defendant Gonzales moved Plaintiff in with another inmate. (Id.) This inmate punched Plaintiff in the face the following day in the presence of Defendant Cerda. (Id.) While she was in Ad Seg, she was also abused by Defendants Melendez and Gonzales. (Id.) Defendants Pruitt, Scott, Gonzales, Melendez, Cerda, Bennett, Griffin, Brumbaugh, Hosman, Silverstein, Mullan, Martin, "Hoffman," and certain Does refused to provide medical care for Plaintiff despite their awareness of Plaintiff's injuries. (Id.)

Plaintiff was placed on Suicide Watch between October 17 and October 22, 2007, to be removed from inmate Williams who punched Plaintiff in the face. (Compl. at 22.) Defendant Cerda refused to intercede. (Id.) Between October 17 and November 19, 2007, Defendants Hosman, Huffman, Mullan, Martin, and Silverstein learned that Plaintiff was being sexually and physically abused and suffering from the effects of the abuse, as well as RTS, PTSD, and/or BWS. (Id. at ...

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