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Andre Wells v. T. Cagle

December 7, 2012

ANDRE WELLS,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
T. CAGLE, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Barbara A. McAuliffe United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER REQUIRING PLAINTIFF TO EITHER FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT OR NOTIFY COURT WHICH DEFENDANT HE WISHES TO PROCEED AGAINST IN THIS ACTION (ECF No. 1) THIRTY-DAY DEADLINE

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Andre Wells is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed a complaint on July 29, 2011, and on September 14, 2011, the action was transferred to the Fresno Division of the Eastern District Court (ECF No. 7.)

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 "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted," or that "seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

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, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)).

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, but the pleading standard is now higher, Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted), and to survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79, 129 S. Ct. at 1949-50; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The "sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully" is not sufficient, and "facts that are 'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability" falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S. Ct. at 1949; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

II. Complaint Allegations

Plaintiff brings this action against Defendants T. Cagle, De La Cruz, J. Gonzalez, and A. Macias. Plaintiff alleges that on September 29, 2010, while housed at Corcoran State Prison, Defendant Cagle placed him in restraints and slammed his head against the wall of the building causing a severe head injury. (Compl. 3,*fn1 ECF No. 1.) Over a year later, on October 13, 2011, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant De La Cerda chilled his right to file grievances by slapping Plaintiff's personal property, a photo album, out of Plaintiff's hand and causing an abrasion while referencing the appeal Plaintiff filed against Defendant Cagle. (Id. at 4.)

III. Discussion

A. Excessive Force

To constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, prison conditions must involve "the wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain." Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347, 101 S. Ct. 2392, 2399 (1981). The inquiry as to whether a prison official's use of force constitutes cruel and unusual punishment is "whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and sadistically to cause harm." Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6-7, 112 S. Ct. 995, 998 (1992); Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 320, 106 S. Ct. 1078, 1085 (312).

Plaintiff's allegation that Defendant T. Cagle placed him in restraints and then slammed his head against the wall of the building causing a serious head injury is sufficient to state a cognizable claim for excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

B. Retaliation

A viable claim of retaliation in violation of the First Amendment consists of five elements: "(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." Rhodes v. Robinson, 408 F.3d 559, 567 (9th Cir. 2005); ...


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