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Davidson v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

January 28, 2014



BARBARA A. McAULIFFE, Magistrate Judge.

First Screening Order

I. Screening Requirement and Standard

Plaintiff Eric Davidson ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's complaint, filed on October 11, 2012, is currently before the Court for screening.

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity and/or against an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Plaintiff's complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2); 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 , 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)). While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, courts "are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences." Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. , 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor. Hebbe v. Pliler , 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). To survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. United States Secret Service , 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss , 572 F.3d at 969.

II. Plaintiff's Allegations

Plaintiff is currently housed at the California Institution for Men in Chino, California. The events in his complaint are alleged to have occurred at Wasco State Prison, Sierra Conservation Center and Richard J. Donovan Prison. Plaintiff names (1) Matthew Cate, Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"), (2) Felix Chavez, Warden of the Sierra Conservation Center, and (3) Does 1-20. Throughout his complaint, Plaintiff also refers to various individuals as defendants. For example, Plaintiff names Defendant Sgt. Bick, Defendant Rivera, J., J. Ortega, CCI Wells, Classification Staff Representative Barkley, Ingle, Pate, Silva, Pendergrass, Davis, Otto, Allen, Sanchez, Halliburton, Baldwin, Warden Daniel Paramo, Lt. K. Spence, Lt. F. Armenta and Correctional Officer Janauch.

Plaintiff allegations, which are somewhat disjointed and difficult to understand, are summarized as follows: On November 16, 2011, Plaintiff was transferred from the Los Angeles County Jail to the Wasco State Prison Reception Center. CDCR staff acknowledged receipt of Plaintiff's cash in the amount of $25.00 and completed a CDC Form 104. However, Plaintiff was repeatedly denied access to his cash until February 15, 2012, which caused him hardship. Plaintiff submitted a lost property appeal regarding his missing cash, but his appeal was rejected on January 9, 2012.

Prior to the rejection of his appeal, on January 8, 2012, a Hispanic CDCR correctional officer asked Plaintiff if he was going to sue the county while processing a piece of Plaintiff's outgoing legal correspondence. The officer attempted to determine what the legal correspondence pertained to despite Plaintiff's repeated advisement that it related to Plaintiff's criminal appeal. The officer eventually processed the correspondence. Plaintiff claims that the reference and question about suing the county indicated CDCR Wasco employees' knowledge of Plaintiff's litigation against the county. Plaintiff claims a racial undertone and motivation behind the question by the CDCR officer. Plaintiff alleges that CDCR employees targeted him in retaliation for exercising his right to judicial relief.

On January 24, 2012, after Plaintiff's use of the CDCR grievance process for his withheld funds, CDCR officials conducted an arbitrary classification to transfer Plaintiff to the Sierra Conservation Center ("SCC"). Plaintiff claims that he was falsely purported to be eligible for the camp and SCC lacked the computer vocation that Plaintiff had expressed an interest in as part of his rehabilitation.

Plaintiff received notice of his transfer on January 31, 2012, and was transferred to SCC on February 1, 2012. Upon his arrival, Plaintiff submitted an administrative grievance regarding his transfer. Plaintiff claimed that the transfer disregarded safety-based concerns such as Plaintiff's obvious medical ineligibility for camp, his mental health concerns, his specific request for a transfer to the California Institution for Men ("CIM"), and his expressed interest in participation in the Computer Vocations provided at CIM. In seeking an administrative remedy, Plaintiff discovered that CDCR officials made false recommendations regarding his transfer and noted enemy activity.

In March 2012, SCC officials subjected Plaintiff to "undue and inhuman" conditions and unlawfully inquired into his legal affairs. Plaintiff claims that his dorm was searched three times that month. His legal documents were searched outside of his presence and his property was left in disorder. On March 7, 2012, the search concluded with Plaintiff's property mixed with the property of two Hispanic inmates to incite a racial dispute and violence. CDCR officials claimed that a search on March 7, 2012, was for drugs. Plaintiff's administrative appeal regarding the March 7, 2012 search was rejected. Plaintiff asserts that the searches constituted harassment and retaliation and that the opening of his confidential correspondence violated his rights.

Plaintiff also alleges that "enemy activity" was arbitrarily entered into his CDCR records. Plaintiff claims that his efforts to seek disclosure of the enemy activity were met with refusals by CDCR officials.

Plaintiff alleges that CDCR officials at both WSP and SCC engaged in further acts in violation of his rights by opening his confidential correspondence on March 7 and March 12, 2012.

Plaintiff further alleges that his efforts to seek inclusion in the Mental Health Services Delivery System since his arrival SCC were met with violations of his right to inclusion. Plaintiff claims that Sanchez, Allen and others made inaccurate and/or false entries in Plaintiff's mental health records. Plaintiff further claims that his efforts to seek inclusion through the administrative remedy process resulted in retaliation by SCC officials arbitrarily classifying him and placing him in an inappropriate mental health care treatment level. When Plaintiff realized the SCC mental health staff's propensity for making false or inaccurate statements in Plaintiff's mental health records and the danger posed by undocumented verbal refusal to speak with mental health staff, Plaintiff began insisting on written, documented refusals.

On July 18, 2012, SCC mental health staff, led by Dr. Otto, began to employ force by requiring custodial officer Austen to threaten physical restraint when Plaintiff refused to walk into an office occupied by Drs. Otto, Halliburton and Sanchez for EOP treatment. Plaintiff claims that he was in imminent danger of the use of physical force for exercising his right to refuse treatment.

Plaintiff also contends that CDCR SCC officials denied Plaintiff's requests for transfer in deliberate indifference to the adverse effects of his continued housing at SCC on his mental and medical well-being. Plaintiff alleges that SCC's officials twice, on April 6, 2012 and May 8, 2012, endorsed Plaintiff for transfer without the intent to actually transfer Plaintiff.

Plaintiff alleges that SCC officials required Plaintiff to use stairs to access the law library in deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's pain, discomfort, and mental anguish. Plaintiff alleges that the use of stairs aggravated his medical condition.

Plaintiff asserts that based on the improper EOP program, Plaintiff was transferred, on July 25, 2012, to Richard J. Donovan prison ("RJD"). Upon arrival, Plaintiff was placed in administrative segregation in violation of his due process rights. While in Administrative Segregation, Plaintiff was denied basic human necessities, such as soap, toilet paper, and writing materials, as well as a shower for several days. On August 4, 2012, Plaintiff was provided with soap that was hazardous to his well-being and not given "Ivory" soap like other inmates.

Plaintiff also claims that his right of access to the courts has been restricted by the ineffective appeal process at RJD. The ineffective process was effectuated by the action of J. Rivera, the Health Care Appeals Coordinator. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Rivera rejected Plaintiff's appeals alleging staff misconduct. Plaintiff also claims that his right of access to the courts has been violated at RJD by the lack of physical access to the law library. As a final matter, Plaintiff alleges that his right to refuse treatment has been violated at RJD.

Plaintiff appears to assert a number of causes action based on violations of the First, Fourth, ...

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