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Timothy Thomas v. R. Hernandez

September 28, 2012

TIMOTHY THOMAS,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
R. HERNANDEZ, WARDEN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Larry Alan Burns United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

I. Introduction

This is a prisoner civil rights case, brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. It was referred to Judge Lewis for a Report and Recommendation, and on August 13, 2012 the Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. With the motion fully briefed, the Court will rule on it directly, rather than wait for Judge Lewis to issue a Report and Recommendation and invite objections.

Thomas alleges that his Eighth, Fourteenth, and First Amendment rights have been violated by Warden Hernandez and three correctional officers at the Donovan Correctional Facility. Each alleged violation, of course, would give rise to an independent § 1983 claim, and the Court will summarize Thomas's allegations in sequence.

A. Eighth Amendment

Thomas first alleges that on August 5, 2006, he was beaten in a van while in transit to "Administrative Segregation," on charges that were trumped-up when he refused to sit at an assigned table in the prison dining hall. He alleges that Officer Roberts beat him with his fist and baton in the van while Thomas's arms and legs were shackled, that Officer Irrazusta beat him once he arrived at Administrative Segregation, and that Officer Nelson did nothing to stop the beatings. He also alleges that a pre-transport medical examination found no injuries on his body, and that the sergeant on duty at Administrative Segregation used the report to question the Defendants when Thomas arrived with injuries.

B. First Amendment

Thomas's second allegation is that he was thwarted in his attempt to file a grievance against the Defendants for their alleged conduct on August 5, 2006. Specifically, he alleges that on August 12 he filed a "CDC 602 grievance" against Roberts, Nelson, and Irrazusta, that he was immediately transferred to another state prison in Lancaster, and that when he inquired about his appeal he was told it had been denied "due to time constraints." He attributes this to Officers Roberts, Nelson, and Irrazusta withholding the appeal paperwork to make it appear untimely. When Thomas forwarded his grievance to the Director of CDC in Sacramento, it was returned for failure to exhaust.

C. Fourteenth Amendment

Thomas's third allegation is that on December 6, 2006, Chris Henry from CDC's Department of Internal Affairs came to his prison in Lancaster and presented him with a fabricated "CDC Disciplinary 115" report signed by Officers Nelson, Roberts, and Irrazusta. Thomas insists that no disciplinary action was ever taken against him at Donovan, and that the report was fabricated in order to conceal their alleged beating of Thomas on August 5, 2006. In asserting this claim, Thomas also suggests that the Administrative Segregation sergeant filed a complaint against the officers on Thomas's behalf.

II. Legal Standards

There are two legal standards relevant to the below analysis-the standard for a motion to dismiss and the standard for a prisoner's administrative exhaustion of his civil rights claims.

A. Motion to Dismiss

A 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim challenges the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). To defeat such a motion, a complaint's factual allegations needn't be detailed; they must simply be sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . ." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). However, "some threshold of plausibility must be crossed at the outset" before a case can go forward. Id. at 558 (internal quotations omitted). A complaint has "facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. ...


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