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Carl Ethridge v. Childs

April 8, 2013


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




On October 20, 2010, Plaintiff Carl Ethridge, 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.)

The Court screened Plaintiff's Complaint on December 29, 2011, and dismissed it for failure to state a claim, but gave leave to file an amended complaint. (ECF No. 11.) Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint on January 23, 2012. (ECF No. 12.) The 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, 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).


Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Associate Warden Hernandez approved, and Defendant Lieutenant Childs administered a 6 month disciplinary detention that (1) violated prison regulations, and (2) imposed unconstitutional conditions of confinement.

More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that:

While an inmate at the California Substance Abuse and Treatment Facility ("CSATF"), he received two separate 90 day rules violations in late 2009 relating to alcohol.*fn1 Defendants approved and imposed a total 6 months disciplinary in-cell detention leaving Plaintiff alone in his cell 22 hours/day without outside exercise.*fn2

His detention and exercise deprivation violated California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR") regulations because it exceeded 10 days even though he was not found to be an extreme management problem or a threat to the safety and security of the institution. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, §§ 3330, 3322. Such conditions of detention were cruel and unusual in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The six months detention caused Plaintiff to suffer medical and mental problems including anxiety, high blood pressure, hospitalization due to chest pain, and hallucinations.

He names as Defendants (1) S. Childs, CSATF Correction Lieutenant, and (2) A. Hernandez, CSATF Associate Warden.

He seeks monetary compensation and an order that Defendants and unnamed corrections officials be enjoined from enforcing any policy not authorized by Title 15 that involves denying exercise for more than 10 days.


A. Pleading Requirements Generally

To state a claim under section 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 state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Ketchum v. Alameda Cnty., 811 F.2d 1243, 1245 (9th Cir. 1987).

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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (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.' " Id. 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. Id. at 1949--50.

B. Title 15 Claim Fails

Plaintiff claims his disciplinary detention and exercise deprivation violated prison regulations.

1. Disciplinary Detention and Exercise Deprivation Beyond 10 Days An inmate shall not be confined to quarters or otherwise deprived of exercise as a disciplinary measure longer than 10 days without findings the inmate poses an extreme management problem or safety threat and written approval of the director, Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15 § 3322, or deputy director. Id. § 3330. The period of detention shall be noted by the warden/superintendent in the rules violation report stating the reasons and the total amount of detention imposed. Id.

"Inmates undergoing disciplinary detention will be permitted a minimum of one hour per day, five days per week, or exercise outside their cells unless security and safety considerations preclude such activity." Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15 ยง 3331(h); see Thomas v. Ponder, 611 F.3d 1144, 1152 (9th Cir. 2010) (Title 15 prohibits disciplining inmates by ...

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