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Gregory P. Carothers v. P. Jiron

October 16, 2012

GREGORY P. CAROTHERS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
P. JIRON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Mcdermott United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

On September 10, 2012, Gregory P. Carothers ("Plaintiff"), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Complaint").

SCREENING STANDARDS

In accordance with the provisions governing in forma pauperis proceedings, the Court must screen the complaint before ordering service to determine whether the action:

(1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). This screening is governed by the following standards:

A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law for failure to state a claim for two reasons: (1) the plaintiff fails to state a cognizable legal theory; or (2) the plaintiff has alleged insufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). In determining whether a complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted, allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Love v. United States, 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir. 1988). However, "the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). "'[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled.'" Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).

Although a complaint "does not need detailed factual allegations" to survive dismissal, a plaintiff must provide "more than mere labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (rejecting the traditional "no set of facts" standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). The complaint must contain factual allegations sufficient to rise above the "speculative level," Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, or the merely possible or conceivable. Id. at 557, 570.

Simply put, the complaint must contain "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. A claim has facial plausibility when the complaint presents enough facts "to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). This standard is not a probability requirement, but "it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. A complaint that pleads facts that are merely consistent with liability stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility. Id.

In a pro se civil rights case, the complaint must be construed liberally to afford plaintiff the benefit of any doubt. Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dept, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988). Unless it is clear that the deficiencies in a complaint cannot be cured, pro se litigants are generally entitled to a notice of a complaint's deficiencies and an opportunity to amend prior to the dismissal of an action. Lucas v. Dept. of Corrections, 66 F.3d 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995) (per curiam); see also Karim-Panahi, 839 F.2d at 623. Only if it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies cannot be cured by amendment should the complaint be dismissed without leave to amend. Id. at 623; see also Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995); McQuillon v. Schwarzenegger, 369 F.3d 1091, 1099 (9th Cir. 2004) (where amendment would be futile, complaint may be dismissed without leave to amend).

After careful review and consideration of the Complaint under the relevant standards and for the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that theComplaint must be DISMISSED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.

PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff alleges that his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process was violated when he was placed in administrative segregation ("Ad-Seg") in the disciplinary housing unit at the Orange County Jail in Santa Ana, California. Plaintiff alleges that the conditions in Ad-Seg are severely restrictive as compared to the general housing unit ("GHU"). Plaintiff names the following individual defendants: Corrections Officer P. Jiron, who interviewed Plaintiff prior to his transfer from the GHU to Ad-Seg based on the assessment that Plaintiff was a gang member; Classification Supervisor Cruz, who allegedly failed to respond adequately to Plaintiff's grievances regarding his Ad-Seg placement; and Chief of Security Castillo, who allegedly failed to respond adequately to Plaintiff's grievances regarding his Ad-Seg placement. Plaintiff alleges that he never received a fair hearing on his initial AdSeg placement or an adequate response to his subsequent grievances. He claims that, as a result of his wrongful placement and retention in Ad-Seg, he was placed in handcuffs and leg restraints, which caused him to fall down a flight of stairs and suffer serious injuries.

Plaintiff also names "Santa Ana Jail" as a defendant, and claims that Jail policies resulted in his Ad-Seg placement and retention and his physical and psychological injuries ...


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