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Richard D. Hammer v. K.J. Allen

March 22, 2013

RICHARD D. HAMMER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
K.J. ALLEN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



ORDER

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In addition to filing a complaint, plaintiff has filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis. His case was referred to this court by Local Rule 302 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

I. Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

Plaintiff has requested leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Dckt. No. 2. Plaintiff's application makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1) and (2). Accordingly, by separate order, the court directs the agency having custody of plaintiff to collect and forward the appropriate monthly payments for the filing fee as set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) and (2).

II. Screening Requirement and Standards

Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint "is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted," or "seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." Id. § 1915A(b).

A pro se plaintiff, like other litigants, must satisfy the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8(a)(2) "requires a complaint to include a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 554, 562-563 (2007) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). While the complaint must comply with the "short and plaint statement" requirements of Rule 8, its allegations must also include the specificity required by Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).

To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim a complaint must contain more than "naked assertions," "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-557. In other words, "[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. at 1949.

Furthermore, a claim upon which the court can grant relief must have facial plausibility. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949. When considering whether a complaint states a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must accept the allegations as true, Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S. Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007), and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, see Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).

III. Screening Order

The court has reviewed plaintiff's complaint (Dckt. No. 1) pursuant to § 1915A and finds it does not state a cognizable claim. Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and alleges that defendants Singh, Allen, and Hedgepeth violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

According to the allegations in the complaint, unidentified members of the Institution Classification Committee elected to transfer plaintiff from the California Medical Facility to another prison. Plaintiff claims that he appealed this decision through the administrative process. According to plaintiff, defendant Singh was aware of plaintiff's "past circumstances" and "safety concerns," but denied plaintiff's appeal because it was "vague" and "based on a generalized fear." Plaintiff contends this amounted to a violation of his Eighth Amendment rights.

Plaintiff also alleges that in responding to his appeal, defendant Allen informed him that he should immediately report any threat to his safety. According to plaintiff, he "informed staff immediately [about] his belief that this safety was in jeopardy if transferred," but was ignored. He claims that he was then transferred to Salinas Valley State Prison and assaulted by another inmate. Plaintiff contends that defendant Allen violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Finally, plaintiff contends that defendant Hedgepeth violated his Eighth Amendment rights because even though he was the Warden of Salinas Valley State Prison, he was unaware of plaintiff's safety concerns. Plaintiff seeks $75,000 in damages and an order allowing him to be transferred to an institution of his choice. 4 of 7

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements:

(1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of ...


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