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Billy Ray Maldonado v. R. H. Trimble


October 9, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge 5


I. Background

Plaintiff Billy Ray Maldonado ("Plaintiff") is a prisoner in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"). Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On December 30, 2011, Plaintiff filed his complaint. ECF No. 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 3 is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but 4 "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, 5 do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 6

U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a 7 claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). While factual 8 allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. 9

II. Summary of Complaint

Plaintiff is incarcerated at Pleasant Valley State Prison ("PVSP") in Coalinga, California,

where the events giving rise to this action occurred. Plaintiff names as Defendants warden R. H. Trimble, A. Nesbit, H. Martinez, and R. Corona.

Plaintiff alleges the following. Plaintiff suffered previous injuries, such as serious had concussions, bone fractures, poor lower leg blood circulation, cerebral palsy, schizophrenia, dyslexia, and posttraumatic stress. Plaintiff contends that he should be treated as an Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") inmate and should not be forced with a job assignment. Plaintiff complains that the appeals office at PVSP has failed to screen Plaintiff's inmate appeals. Plaintiff attaches as exhibits several inmate appeals which were screened out for various reasons.

Plaintiff contends a violation of the Eighth Amendment and retaliation, and a state law claim of negligence. Plaintiff requests as relief compensatory and punitive damages.*fn1

III. Analysis

A. Eighth Amendment

The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. "The Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994) (quotation and citation omitted). A prisoner's claim of inadequate medical care does not rise to the level of an Eighth Amendment violation unless (1) "the prison official deprived the prisoner of the 'minimal civilized measure of life's necessities,'" and (2) "the prison official 'acted with deliberate indifference in 2 doing so.'" Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1057 (9th Cir. 2004) (quoting Hallett v. Morgan, 296 3 F.3d 732, 744 (9th Cir. 2002) (citation omitted)). The deliberate indifference standard involves an 4 objective and a subjective prong. First, the alleged deprivation must be, in objective terms, 5 "sufficiently serious . . . ." Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834 (citing Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 6 (1991)). Second, the prison official must "know[] of and disregard[] an excessive risk to inmate 7 health or safety . . . ." Id. at 837. 8 "Deliberate indifference is a high legal standard." Toguchi, 391 F.3d at 1060. "Under this 9 standard, the prison official must not only 'be aware of the facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists,' but that person 'must also draw the inference.'" Id. at 1057 (quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837). "'If a prison official should have been aware of the risk, but was not, then the official has not violated the Eighth Amendment, no matter how severe the risk.'" Id. (quoting Gibson v. County of Washoe, Nevada, 290 F.3d 1175, 1188 (9th Cir. 2002)).

Based on Plaintiff's allegations, Plaintiff has sufficiently satisfied the first prong of an Eighth Amendment claim, regarding a serious medical need. However, Plaintiff fails to satisfy the second prong, deliberate indifference. Plaintiff alleges no facts which indicate that Defendants Nesbit, Martinez, and Corona acted or failed to act in any manner that caused a violation of Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights. Plaintiff presents no facts which indicate that Defendant Nesbit or Martinez took any action. Plaintiff submits exhibits which indicate that Defendant Corona screened out several of Plaintiff's inmate appeals. However, that is not indicative of Defendant Corona acting with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's medical needs. There are no allegations which indicate that Defendant Corona knew of and disregarded an excessive risk of serious harm to Plaintiff's health.

Plaintiff names warden Trimble as a Defendant, but also fails to allege any facts which indicate a constitutional violation. To the extent that Plaintiff alleges liability against Defendants based on any supervisory roles, Plaintiff fails to state a claim. The term "supervisory liability," loosely and commonly used by both courts and litigants alike, is a misnomer. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677. "Government officials may not be held liable for the unconstitutional conduct of their subordinates under a theory of respondeat superior." Id. at 676. Rather, each government official, regardless of 2 his or her title, is only liable for his or her own misconduct. Id. at 677. When the named defendant 3 holds a supervisory position, the causal link between the defendant and the claimed constitutional 4 violation must be specifically alleged. See Fayle v. Stapley, 607 F.2d 858, 862 (9th Cir. 1979); 5

Mosher v. Saalfeld, 589 F.2d 438, 441 (9th Cir. 1978). To state a claim for relief under § 1983 for 6 supervisory liability, plaintiff must allege some facts indicating that the defendant either: personally 7 participated in the alleged deprivation of constitutional rights or knew of the violations and failed to 8 act to prevent them. Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Plaintiff alleges no facts 9 which indicate that any supervisory Defendants personally participated in an alleged constitutional violation or knew of constitutional violations and failed to act to prevent them.

B. Inmate Appeals and Retaliation

For a viable claim of First Amendment retaliation, the following elements must be met: "(1) An assertion that a state actor took some adverse action against an inmate (2) because of (3) that prisoner's protected conduct, and that such action (4) chilled the inmate's exercise of his First Amendment rights, and (5) the action did not reasonably advance a legitimate correctional goal." Brodheim v. Cry, 584 F.3d 1262, 1269 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Rhodes v. Robinson, 408 F.3d 559, 567-68 (9th Cir. 2005)).Plaintiff alleges in a conclusory manner that Defendants retaliated against Plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges no facts which support a retaliation claim.

It appears that Plaintiff complains that the Defendant appeals coordinators improperly screened out Plaintiff's inmate appeals. Actions taken during the Plaintiff's inmate appeals process, without more, do not state a claim for due process because there is no due process right to a specific inmate procedure. Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 860 (9th Cir. 2003) (no liberty interest in processing of appeals because no entitlement to a specific grievance procedure).

C. State Law Claims

Plaintiff contends that Defendants were negligent. Because Plaintiff has failed to allege any cognizable federal claims, the Court does not exercise supplemental jurisdiction over any state law claims. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1367(a), (c)(3).

IV. Conclusion and Order

Plaintiff fails to state any cognizable federal claims against any Defendants. The Court will 3 provide Plaintiff with an opportunity to file a first amended complaint curing the deficiencies 4 identified by the Court in this order. Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448-49 (9th Cir. 1987). 5 Plaintiff may not change the nature of this suit by adding new, unrelated claims in his amended 6 complaint. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007) (no "buckshot" complaints). 7 If Plaintiff decides to amend, Plaintiff's amended complaint should be brief, Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a), but 8 must state what each named defendant did that led to the deprivation of Plaintiff's constitutional or 9 other federal rights. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Although accepted as true, the "[f]actual allegations must be [sufficient] to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . ." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

Finally, Plaintiff is advised that an amended complaint supersedes the original complaint, Forsyth v. Humana, Inc., 114 F.3d 1467, 1474 (9th Cir. 1997) overruled in part on other grounds, Lacey v. Maricopa County, -- F.3d --, 09-15806, 2012 WL 3711591 (9th Cir. Aug. 29, 2012) (en banc); King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987), and must be "complete in itself without reference to the prior or superseded pleading," L. R. 220.

Accordingly, based on the foregoing, it is HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. The Clerk's Office shall send Plaintiff a complaint form;

2. Plaintiff's complaint is dismissed for failure to state a claim, with leave to file a first amended complaint within thirty (30) days from the date of service of this order;

3. Plaintiff may not add any new, unrelated claims to this action via the first amended complaint and any attempt to do so may result in an order striking the first amended complaint; and

4. If Plaintiff fails to comply with this order, the Court will dismiss this action for failure to obey a court order and failure to state a claim.


Case 1:11-cv-02160-LJO-DLB Document 9 Filed 10/09/12 Page 6 of 6


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