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Rex Chappell v. T. Stankorb

March 25, 2013


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


Plaintiff Rex Chappell ("Plaintiff") is a prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed this action on August 25, 2011. Pursuant to the Court's order dismissing the complaint with leave to amend, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC") on June 25, 2012. Plaintiff names Correctional Counselor T. Stankorb, Captain T. Miner, Lt. Haak, Chief Deputy Warden S. Reed, Chief Deputy Warden K. Holland, Associate Warden M. Bryant, Warden M. Stainer, Captain P. Matzen, Appeals Coordinator K. Sampson, Doctor H. Tate and Correctional Officer A. Frazier 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 California Correctional Institution ("CCI") in Tehachapi, California, where the events at issue occurred.

According to the FAC, Plaintiff arrived at CCI on February 17, 2011, with an indefinite term in the Secured Housing Unit ("SHU") after being wrongly validated as a member of the Black Guerrilla Family ("BGF") prison gang. He was taken to classification on March 1, 2011, where he explained that he was wrongly validated as a BGF member in retaliation for prior litigation. Defendants Stankorb, Holland and Miner told him that they saw nothing in his central file that warranted validation, but now that he has been validated, he either has to debrief or go to court. These Defendants involved in classification also read numerous doctor's reports explaining Plaintiff's seizure disorder and his placement on single cell status at prior prisons. Defendant Stankorb recommended single cell status based on the medical records, but Defendant Miner indicated that they lose money when there is only one person in a cell. Plaintiff remained on single cell status.

On May 9, 2011, Defendant Stankorb told Plaintiff that she would be taking him to classification on May 10, 2011, and that she and Defendant Miner decided to make Plaintiff double cell status. Defendant Stankorb told Plaintiff that the decision was based on a conversation with Defendant Tate, who indicated that a person having a seizure cannot attack anyone during the seizure. Plaintiff states that he never told anyone that he attacks anyone during a seizure, and he disagrees with Defendant Tate's opinion. Plaintiff wrote a complaint letter to the classification committee, as well as Defendant Stainer.

Plaintiff appeared before Defendants Stankorb, Holland and Haak for classification on May 10, 2011, before Defendants Stankorb, Holland and Matzen for classification on November 15, 2011, and before Defendants Matzen and Reed for classification on May 12, 2012. Each time, he told Defendants that he is not a BGF member. He also explained that if he is forced to cell with a gang member in the SHU, he will be forced to produce his paperwork, and the "R" suffix (signifying a rape conviction) would make him a target for attack. Defendants told him not to show anyone his paperwork.

Plaintiff also told Defendants Reed, Holland, Matzen, Haak and Miner that Defendant Stankorb showed Plaintiff's commitment offense to Defendant Frazier, a female floor officer in Plaintiff's building. Defendant Frazier then told other inmates in Plaintiff's building that he was a child molester, which was not true. Defendants Stankorb, Holland, Reed, Matzen, Haak and Miner told Plaintiff that he would be celled with a BGF member and that if he had a problem, to tell an officer.

Plaintiff filed a complaint with Internal Affairs, but Defendant Bryant dismissed the complaint because Plaintiff would not give them an inmate witness's name. Plaintiff also alleges that he has filed numerous Inmate Appeals, but Defendant Sampson denied them for frivolous reasons. Plaintiff eventually wrote to Defendant Stainer about it, but he did not do anything.

Based on these facts, Plaintiff alleges the following:

1. First Amendment retaliation and/or denial of access to the courts against Defendant Sampson;

2. Deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of harm, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, (a) against Defendants Stainer, Holland, Reed, Stankorb, Miner, Bryant, Haak, Matzen and Frazier based on Plaintiff's classification as a BGF member; (b) against Defendants Frazier and Stankorb based telling other inmates that Plaintiff is a child molester; and (c) against Defendants Stankorb, Holland, Reed, Haak, Miner, Bryant, Matzen and Stainer based on placing Plaintiff in a double cell despite his seizures;

3. Deliberate indifference to a serious medical need, in violation of the Eighth Amendment ...

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