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James Ruhallah Harrison v. D. Tarnoff

September 6, 2012



Screening Order

I. Procedural History, Screening Requirement, and Standard

On August 17, 2011, Plaintiff James Ruhallah Harrison ("Plaintiff"), a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Doc. 1.

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, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)), and courts "are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences," Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

While prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are still entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor, the pleading standard is now higher, Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). Under § 1983, plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendantpersonally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

Section 1983 provides a cause of action for the violation of constitutional or other federal rights by those acting under color of state law. E.g., Patel v. Kent School Dist., 648 F.3d 965, 971 (9th Cir. 2011); Jones, 297 F.3d at 934. For eachdefendant named, plaintiff must show a causal link between the violation of his rights and an action or omission of the defendant. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1205-06 (9th Cir. 2011); Corales v. Bennett, 567 F.3d 554, 570 (9th Cir. 2009). There is norespondeat superior liability under § 1983, and each defendant may only be held liable for misconduct directly attributed to him or her. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677-79; Ewing v. City of Stockton, 588 F.3d 1218, 1235 (9th Cir. 2009).

II. Plaintiff's Complaint

In Plaintiff's complaint, he names defendants D. Tarnoff, Appeals Coordinator; A. Lane, Appeals Coordinator; J. Acebedo, Appeals Coordinator; S. Tallerico, Appeals Coordinator; and Cox, Correctional Counselor, who were employed at Kern Valley State Prison ("KVSP"). Compl at 1-3, Doc. 1.

On June 1, 2010, defendant Correctional Counselor Cox told Plaintiff to submit a letter for religious name change. Id. at 4. On June 3, 2010, Plaintiff asked correctional officer Dhot to inform Correctional Counselor Cox that he was finished with his letter. Id. Officer Dhot came back some time later and told Plaintiff that Cox said he is not accepting anything from Plaintiff. Id. When Plaintiff first told Cox that he wanted to change his name to a Muslim name his attitude changed, so Plaintiff was not surprised when Cox refused to process his letter. Id. On June 3, 2010, after Dhot told Plaintiff what Cox had said, Plaintiff filed a 602 complaint of misconduct. Id. On June 16, 2010, Plaintiff's complaint was rejected. Id. at 4, 10. On June 18, 2010, Plaintiff resubmitted the complaint as he was told to do. Id. at 4. Correctional Officer Scott gave the complaint to Cox and still did not receive a response from Cox. Id. On July 12, 2010, Plaintiff made another complaint against Cox and used his first complaint as proof. Id. On July 26, 2010, Plaintiff's appeal was unjustly rejected by defendant D. Tarnoff, Appeals Coordinator because Plaintiff gave the name of the correctional officer that gave it to Cox. Id. at 4, 14, 17. The decision notified Plaintiff to obtain an informal response from the correctional counselor and to attach letter with denial of name change. Id. at 14. On August 3, 2010, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Cox and Tarnoff and attached his 602, stating that it was never rendered and was not pending. Id. at 4. On October 14, 2010, Plaintiff's appeal was unjustly rejected past the appeal time limit by Tarnoff. Id. at 4, 20. The decision asked Plaintiff to include supporting documentation of the letter requesting name change. Id. at 20.

Plaintiff then sent his complaint to the inmate appeals branch, and on December 6, 2010, it was rejected because he did not process it at the institutional level. Id. at 5, 21. Plaintiff resubmitted his complaint, and on December 24, 2010, it was unjustly rejected by defendants A. Lane or Tarnoff. Id. at 5, 22. The decision notified Plaintiff that there was too great of a time lapse with no explanation as to why he could not timely file his appeal. Id. at 22. Plaintiff submitted an explanation and supporting documentation, and on January 11, 2011, defendant J. Acebedo rejected his complaint, stating the original appeal was submitted June 3, 2010 and Plaintiff attempted to submit a new appeal on October 4, 2010. Id. at 5, 34. On February 6, 2011, Plaintiff resubmitted his complaint, adding defendants Lane and Acebedo. Id. at 5. On March 29, 2011, his complaint was unjustly rejected by defendant S. Tallerico for failing to use the correct 602 appeal form. Id. at 5, 35, 39.

On April 17, 2011, Plaintiff resubmitted his appeal with a statement from correctional officer Sedlezky stating why Plaintiff did not have a 602 form. Id. at 5, 40. On April 22, 2011, Tallerico unjustly screened out his appeal. Id. at 5, 41. The decision stated that the appeal dated June 3, 2010 for name change was rejected on July 26, 2010. Id. at 41. On July 12, 2010, Plaintiff resubmitted the appeal, and it was rejected as a duplicate. Id. On August 3, 2010, Plaintiff resubmitted the appeal for not processing name changes rejected on October 14, 2010. Id. On January 11, 2011, the resubmitted appeal was cancelled for time. Id. Plaintiff resubmitted the appeal on March 29, 2011, and it was then over eighty days old. Id.

Plaintiff states he has attached the 602 forms to this complaint. Id. at 5. Plaintiff states that the dates cited by the appeals coordinator are incorrect; it could not have been eighty days old when they refused to process his appeal. Id. Defendants denied him due process. Id. The complaint on correctional officer Sedlezky for excessive force is in process, which was only due to Plaintiff adding him in this complaint. Id. He was unjustly sprayed by Correctional Officer Sedlezky behind this complaint and Plaintiff using ...

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