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Matthews v. Black

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 3, 2013

IVAN LEE MATTHEWS, Plaintiff,
v.
E. BLACK, et al., Defendants.

ORDER OF SERVICE; DIRECTING DEFENDANTS TO FILE DISPOSITIVE MOTION OR NOTICE REGARDING SUCH MOTION

LUCY H. KOH, District Judge.

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed an amended civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For the reasons stated below, the court orders service upon the named defendants.

DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that 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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must, however, be liberally construed. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).

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. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

B. Legal Claims

In the complaint, plaintiff alleges that in September and October of 2011, he had three pending court cases. During those months, he was deprived of his legal property and, despite filing grievances against Property Officer J. Bennefield for the return of his property, he did not receive his legal property. On December 1, 2011, plaintiff was cleared to be housed in general population. That day, as defendant Correctional Officer ("C/O") S. Puckett was escorting plaintiff to plaintiff's cell to be housed with Inmate Harris, plaintiff told C/O Puckett that he had safety concerns about being double-celled. Plaintiff asserts that C/O Puckett ignored him. Plaintiff also repeatedly told defendants C/O Bonilla and C/O Urena that his housing assignment raised safety concerns for him, and that he was in fear for his life. Neither C/O Bonilla or C/O Urena responded to plaintiff's concerns. Plaintiff alleges that Sergeant E. Black directed C/O Bonilla, Puckett, and Urena to continue to place plaintiff in general population. Plaintiff claims that defendants did so in retaliation for his filing of grievances.

At one point, plaintiff was being returned to his cell, and plaintiff again told C/O Bonilla and C/O Urena that he did not want to go back to his cell because he was afraid for his life. C/O Bonilla and C/O Urena threatened to use their pepper spray on plaintiff if plaintiff did not comply because defendant Sergeant Black had ordered C/O Bonilla and C/O Urena to return plaintiff to his cell. Plaintiff refused to enter the cell, and C/O Bonilla and C/O Urena forced plaintiff into the cell. C/O Bonilla then grabbed plaintiff, who was still handcuffed, and slammed him to the floor, injuring plaintiff.

Very liberally construed, plaintiff has stated a cognizable claim that all defendants were deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's safety and retaliated against plaintiff. Plaintiff has also stated a cognizable claim that C/O Bonilla and C/O Urena used excessive force against plaintiff.

CONCLUSION

1. The court's October 10, 2013, briefing schedule is VACATED.

2. The Clerk of the court shall mail a Notice of Lawsuit and Request for Waiver of Service of Summons, two copies of the Waiver of Service of Summons, a copy of the amended complaint and all attachments thereto (docket no. 11), and a copy of this order to Correctional Sergeant E. Black, Correctional Officer R. Bonilla, Correctional Officer S. Puckett, and Correctional Officer J. Urena at Salinas Valley State Prison.

The Clerk of the court shall also mail a courtesy copy of the complaint and a copy of this order to the California Attorney General's Office. Additionally, the Clerk ...


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