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Thabiti Salim Wilson v. G. Silva

January 30, 2013


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


Plaintiff Thabiti Salim Wilson ("Plaintiff"), a prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action on November 14, 2011. He names Correctional Officers G. Silva, John Doe and Jane Doe as Defendants.


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, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. 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.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id.

Section 1983 provides a cause of action for the violation of Plaintiff's constitutional or other federal rights by persons acting under color of state law. Nurre v. Whitehead, 580 F.3d 1087, 1092 (9th Cir 2009); Long v. County of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006); Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). Plaintiff's allegations must link the actions or omissions of each named defendant to a violation of his rights; there is no respondeat superior liability under section 1983. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676-77; Simmons v. Navajo County, Ariz., 609 F.3d 1011, 1020-21 (9th Cir. 2010); Ewing v. City of Stockton, 588 F.3d 1218, 1235 (9th Cir. 2009); Jones, 297 F.3d at 934. Plaintiff must present factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.


Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Kern Valley State Prison, where the events at issue in this action occurred. He alleges that on January 9, 2008, during the morning work release, four white inmates were attacked by a group of black inmates. The incident led to an immediate lockdown of Facility D. Later in the evening, during the 4 p.m. count, Defendant John Doe came by and unlocked the tray slots. Plaintiff asked him why he was unlocking the slots and he replied, "Something happened, we're not walking to chow." Complaint, at 3. Plaintiff alleges that at that point, Plaintiff knew they were on lockdown.

After chow time, Defendant Silva began running the showers. Prisoners were not being handcuffed and escorted to the showers, and floor officers were not in sections supervising the showers. Plaintiff alleges that based on his experience, inmates are handcuffed before exiting their cells and all movement outside of cells is escorted during a lockdown due to racial violence.

Plaintiff's cell was the first black cell released for showers. No handcuffs or escorts were used. When he finished showering, Defendant Silva asked Plaintiff if he was going right back to his cell. Plaintiff said that he was. At that time Defendant Silva opened his neighbor's cell door. The inmates, who were white inmates with knowledge of the earlier incident, immediately attacked Plaintiff. He was stabbed multiple times and sustained lacerations to his head, chest and left forearm. Plaintiff received stitches and contends that he was in excruciating pain for weeks. He states that his left forearm still becomes numb from time to time.

Plaintiff contends that if Defendants Silva, John Doe and Jane Doe had followed proper lockdown procedure and safety precautions, he would not have been attacked. He alleges that they displayed deliberate indifference by failing to properly perform their duties and neglecting their responsibilities.


1. Eighth Amendment

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 (1981). Although prison conditions may be restrictive and harsh, prison officials must provide prisoners with food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, medical care, and personal safety. Id.; Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1107 (9th Cir. 1986); Hoptowit v. Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1246 (9th Cir. 1982). Prison officials have a duty to take ...

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