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Earl Warner v. Matthew L. Cate

February 28, 2013


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



On July 12, 2012, Plaintiff Earl Warner, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. (ECF No. 5.) Plaintiff's 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, malicious," or 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).

Section 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). Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989).


The Complaint names the following individuals as Defendants: (1) Matthew L. Cate, Secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR); (2) John Doe, Warden, Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP); (3) A. Walker, Chairperson, Institution Classification Committee (ICC); (4) D. McGaha, ICC; (5) R. Prokop, ICC; (6) R. Spalding, ICC; and (7) W. Fellows, ICC.

Plaintiff alleges the following:

On April 16, 2010, Plaintiff reported to Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) officials that two inmates were conducting criminal activity. Plaintiff explained that the inmates had plotted to cause him harm and that he feared for his safety. (Compl. at 4, 7.) Plaintiff was moved into the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU). The ASU ICC conducted an investigation and confirmed that Plaintiff had enemies housed in Facility A. (Id. at 4.) The ICC elected to retain Plaintiff in the ASU pending transfer to another facility. (Id. at 4, 29.) Plaintiff filed numerous inmate grievances expressing his fear that he would be transferred to a facility housing his enemies. (Id. at 4, 5.) Plaintiff was endorsed for transfer to PVSP on October 26, 2010. Plaintiff immediately filed an inmate grievance advising of enemies possibly housed at that institution. (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff arrived at PVSP in January 2011.

Plaintiff was initially housed in the orientation section where inmates are kept separate from the general population. After one week, Plaintiff was assigned to the general population. (Id. at 6.) He recognized several gang affiliated inmates in the general population and one who had been on the yard at SVSP when Plaintiff made his safety concerns known. (Id. at 7.) Inmate Sordia, a gang leader in general population, threatened to harm Plaintiff on the recreation yard. (Id. at 8.)

On January 19, 2011, Plaintiff came before the Unit Classification Committee (UCC) for initial review and notified the committee of his serious safety concerns. Plaintiff identified Sordia, among others, and described the threat. Defendant Walker summoned Sordia and placed him alongside Plaintiff in adjacent holding cages. Sordia was notified of Plaintiff's comments. The two were told to talk the situation over. Sordia denied making the threat and was sent back to his housing unit. Plaintiff was returned to his cell and ordered to move into building two where Sordia was housed. (Id. at 9, 10.) Plaintiff's central file noted Sordia as a known enemy. (Id. at 12.)

The fact that Plaintiff had informed prison officials of Sordia's threat became known in the housing unit and Plaintiff was confronted by affiliated inmates. Plaintiff refused to leave his cell for food or recreation. (Id. at 11.) On January 20, 2011 Plaintiff was removed from general population and eventually from PVSP because of self-inflicted lacerations to his wrists. (Id. at 13.)

Defendant Fellows willfully omitted from the records of the initial UCC hearing at PVSP information reflecting the threat to Plaintiff. (Id. at 16.) Plaintiff pursued documentation of the Defendant's decisions via the inmate appeal process. His appeals were uniformly rejected. (Id. at 15-18.)


A. Section ...

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