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Gray v. Smith

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

May 1, 2013

KENNETH GRAY, Plaintiff,


WILLIAM ALSUP, District Judge.


Plaintiff, a pro se prisoner, filed this civil rights case under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against officials at Salinas Valley State Prison. He has paid the filing fee. For the reasons discussed below, the complaint is ordered served upon defendants.



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). In its review the court must identify any cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. at 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." "Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only "give the defendant fair notice of what the.... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests."" Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (citations omitted). Although in order to state a claim a complaint "does not need detailed factual allegations, ... a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.... Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer "enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 1974.

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 deprivation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).


Plaintiff alleges that following a prison riot in which he did not participate, a correctional officer applied plastic handcuffs to his wrists so tightly that they cut his right wrist. Over the next five and a half hours he complained repeatedly to defendants Smith, Pennisi and Ku, among many others, about being in extreme pain from the handcuffs, but they did not loosen or cut them. He alleges that he subsequently sought medical care for his wrist from defendant Ku, but she ignored his complaints that his wrist continued to bother him. He was eventually diagnosed with a pinched nerve in his right hand, from which he continued to suffer many months later. When liberally construed, plaintiff's allegations state a cognizable claim for violating his Eighth Amendment rights to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.


For the reasons set out above, it is hereby ordered as follows:

1. The clerk shall issue summons and the United States Marshal shall serve, without prepayment of fees, a copy of the complaint with all attachments thereto, and a copy of this order upon defendants: Correctional Sergeant T. Smith, Correctional Sergeant L. Pennisi, Nurse Mike Ku, and Warden R. Grounds at Salinas Valley State Prison. A courtesy copy of the amended complaint with attachments and this order shall also be mailed to the California Attorney General's Office.

2. Defendants shall file an answer in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

3. In order to expedite the resolution of this case:

a. No later than 91 days from the date this order is filed, defendants shall file a motion for summary judgment or other dispositive motion. If defendants are of the opinion that this case cannot be resolved by summary judgment, they shall so inform the court prior to the date the summary judgment motion is due. All papers filed with the court shall be promptly served on the plaintiff.

b. Plaintiff's opposition to the dispositive motion, if any, shall be filed with the court and served upon defendants no later than 28 days from the date of service of the motion. Plaintiff must read the attached page headed "NOTICE - WARNING, " which is provided to him pursuant to Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952, 953-954 (9th Cir. 1998) (en banc), and Klingele v. Eikenberry, 849 F.2d 409, 411-12 (9th Cir. 1988).

If defendants file an unenumerated motion to dismiss claiming that plaintiff failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies as required by 42 U.S.C. ยง 1997e(a), plaintiff should take note of the attached page headed "NOTICE - WARNING (EXHAUSTION), " which is provided to him as required by Wyatt v. Terhune, 315 F.3d 1108, 1120 n. 4 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, Alameida v. Wyatt, 124 S.Ct. 50 (2003).

c. Defendants shall file a reply brief no later than 14 days after the date of service of the opposition.

d. The motion shall be deemed submitted as of the date the reply brief is due. No hearing will be held on the motion unless the court so orders at a later date.

e. Along with their motion, defendants shall proof that they served plaintiff the applicable warning(s) required by Woods v. Carey, No. 09-15548, slip op. 7871 (9th Cir. July 6, 2012) and/or Stratton v. Buck, No. 10-35656, slip op. 11477 (9th Cir. Sept. 19, 2012), at the same time they served him with their motion. Failure to do so will result in the summary dismissal of their motion without prejudice.

4. All communications by the plaintiff with the court must be served on defendant, or defendant's counsel once counsel has been designated, by mailing a true copy of the document to defendant or defendant's counsel.

5. Discovery may be taken in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. No further court order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(a)(2) or Local Rule 16-1 is required before the parties may conduct discovery.

6. It is the plaintiff's responsibility to prosecute this case. Plaintiff must keep the court informed of any change of address and must comply with the court's orders in a timely fashion. Failure to do so may result in the dismissal of this action for failure to prosecute pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b).

7. Plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel (dkt. 2) is DENIED because the issues are not complex at this stage of the case. Plaintiff's motion for the Marshal to serve the defendants (dkt. 3) is GRANTED.


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