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Manzanillo v. Lewis

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

July 30, 2013

GREGORY D. LEWIS, et al., Defendants.


JON S. TIGAR, District Judge.

Plaintiff, an inmate at Pelican Bay State Prison ("PBSP"), filed this pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court reviewed his complaint and dismissed it with leave to amend. He then filed an amended complaint, which is now before the Court for review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.


A. Standard of Review

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). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed, however. 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 violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins , 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

B. Legal Claims

Plaintiff alleges that defendants, officials and employees of PBSP and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"), violated his constitutional rights. According to the complaint, plaintiff filed a prior civil rights action in this court against PBSP officials. See Manzanillo v. Jacquez, et al., No. C 10-3783 JSW (PR). On August 8, 2011, in retaliation for having filed said action, defendants N. Brown, T.A. Wood, and J. Hallock, all correctional officers, staged an attack on plaintiff by another prisoner. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that, after plaintiff returned to his cell from the prison law library, defendant N. Brown failed to electronically secure plaintiff's cell door. According to the complaint, defendant N. Brown then opened the door to the exercise yard, allowing another prisoner - plaintiff's known enemy - to exit the yard and enter plaintiff's cell, after which defendant N. Brown secured plaintiff's cell door. Plaintiff alleges he was attacked "for several minutes" before officials finally entered the cell to stop the assault. Plaintiff alleges that, on his way to the clinic to be treated for his injuries, he was greeted by defendants T.A. Wood and J. Hallock who stated to plaintiff: "We had no choice." Plaintiff further alleges that defendants Warden G.D. Lewis, Associate Warden K. McGuyer, and CDCR Director Matthew Cate failed to properly train the other defendants, which led to plaintiff's attack and defendants' violation of his rights. When liberally construed, the foregoing allegations are sufficient to state a cognizable claim against the above defendants for retaliation, conspiracy, and deliberate indifference to plaintiff's safety.


For the foregoing reasons and for good cause shown,

1. Plaintiff's amended complaint states cognizable claims against N. Brown, T.A. Wood, J. Hallock, G.D. Lewis, K. McGuyer, and Matthew Cate. The Clerk shall terminate all other defendants.

2. The Clerk shall issue summons and the United States Marshal shall serve, without prepayment of fees, copies of the amended complaint and copies of this order upon: (1) the following defendant at CDCR: Matthew Cate; and (2) the following defendants at PBSP: Warden G.D. Lewis, Associate Warden K. McGuyer, N. Brown, T.A. Wood, and J. Hallock. The Clerk shall also mail a ...

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