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Michael Anthony Todd v. P. Johnson

January 30, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: United States Magistrate Judge Michael J. Seng



Plaintiff Michael Anthony Todd ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Plaintiff initiated this action on February 22, 2012 in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Kings. (ECF No. 2.) On August 6, 2012, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint alleging federal and state claims. (Am. Compl., Id. at Ex. A.) Defendants were served with the First Amended Complaint on November 27, 2012, and they removed the action to this Court on December 27, 2012. (Id.) Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint is now before the Court for screening.


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)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.


Plaintiff is currently housed at California State Prison, Corcoran ("CSP-COR") where the events at issue in his First Amended Complaint occurred. Plaintiff alleges the following parties violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution:*fn1 1) California Department of Corrections, 2) CSP-COR, 3) T. Norton, Chief Deputy Warden at CSP-COR, 4) P. Johnson, correctional counselor at CSPCOR, 5) John Doe I, correctional officer at CSP-COR, 6) John Doe 2, correctional officer at CSP-COR, and 7) Does 3-10. He also alleges these individuals are liable for negligence, false imprisonment, intentionally inflicting emotional distress, and acting with malice.

Plaintiff's allegations are as follows:

When he was transferred to CSP-COR in September 2010, he informed staff members there that he was a member of the "U.S.A.S." organization.*fn2 (Am. Compl. at 8.) Defendant Doe 1 informed Plaintiff U.S.A.S. members were being threatened by Aryan Brotherhood members, and that he would not protect Plaintiff. (Id. at 8-9.)

Plaintiff was initially placed on single cell status. (Am. Compl. at 9.) He appeared before a Security Housing Unit ("SHU") Institutional Classification Committee consisting of Defendants Norton, Johnson, and Rangel. (Id.) They ultimately concluded that Plaintiff could be housed with a cell-mate, and Plaintiff was given one. (Id. at 9-10.) Plaintiff was transferred to a new cell a few weeks later even though Plaintiff warned Defendant Doe 2 he was not compatible with his new cell-mate. (Id. at 10.) Defendant Doe 2 forced Plaintiff to sign a form indicating he was compatible with his new cell-mate. (Id.) Plaintiff's new cell-mate injured him the next day. (Id.)

While Plaintiff was waiting for an ambulance, Defendant Doe 1 saw him and reminded Plaintiff that he should have agreed to be housed on the Special Needs Yard ("SNY") and that Defendant Doe 1 said he would laugh at Plaintiff if he was injured outside of the SNY. (Am. Compl. at 11.) Plaintiff was not provided medical treatment for his injuries. (Id. at 10.)

Upon his return to CSP-COR, Plaintiff was placed on an indeterminate SHU term. (Am. Compl. at 11.) He was initially given a six month SHU term but this was extended. (Id.) During this time period, he was held in the SHU for certain times without proper process. (Id.) The only option given Plaintiff was to remain in the SHU or transfer to the SNY. (Id.) Plaintiff refused to accept placement on the SNY. (Id.)

In February 2012 Plaintiff was given an indeterminate SHU for safety and security reasons. (Am. Compl. at 11.) Plaintiff was supposed to be placed in the general population in May 2012, but he continues to remain in the SHU. (Id. at 11-12.)

Plaintiff has been unable to file prison grievances regarding his housing issues. (Am. Compl. at 12.)

Plaintiff's rights to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment, redress the government under the First Amendment, and due process of law under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments have been violated. (Am. Compl. at 13-14.) Defendants have also committed torts and acted with negligence and malice. (Id. at 14.)

Plaintiff asks for declaratory relief, preliminary and permanent injunctions, $500,000 in compensatory damages, and punitive damages. (Am. Compl. at 14-16.)


A. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Analysis

42 U.S.C. § 1983 "provides a cause of action for the 'deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws' of the United States." Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). § 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating ...

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