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Roberts v. California Department of Corrections

United States District Court, C.D. California

April 1, 2014

ANTWAREN ROBERTS, Plaintiffs,
v.
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, J. BROWN, T. RODIN (#56159), E. NIXON (#79734), S. HOLDER (#77625), E. PEREZ (#71336), E. RAMOS (#57029), G. CALDERON (#75622), B. CAMACK (#74448), D. SOTO (#59309), M. BLANKENSHIP (#71326), A. RODRIGUEZ (#76993), RON HUGHES (#44815), K. SMITH (#44815), TODD LANSFORD (#70462), ARBI MASHI KAMALI; DANNY LEVA, and DOES 1-50 Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [39]

OTIS D. WRIGHT, II, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

On January 27, 2014, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Antwaren Roberts's First Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 13.) On September 30, 2012, Roberts was a prisoner at the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo, California, when two inmates stabbed him in his cell. He alleges that Defendants-various corrections officers and prison officials-failed to protect him. Roberts alleges claims for violations of his Eight Amendment rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as state-law torts arising out of the stabbing and lack of security personnel at the prison. But after reviewing Roberts's First Amended Complaint, the Court finds that Roberts has failed to state a valid claim for relief and Defendants would not be able to plausibly respond to Roberts's terse allegations. (ECF No. 39.) The Court accordingly GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.[1]

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Antwaren Roberts, formerly a state prisoner confined by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"), filed this complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on October 10, 2013. (ECF No. 9.) The events giving rise to this suit occurred while Roberts was incarcerated at the California Men's Colony ("CMC") in San Luis Obispo, California. ( Id. ) Roberts alleges that Defendants violated the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution by failing to protect him from a stabbing by fellow inmates in his cell and when Defendants housed him near his attackers following the assault. (FAC ¶ 38; 11:23-26.)

On September 30, 2012, during a routine pill count, all of the inmates housed on the third floor of close-B were allowed to line up, receive their medication, and return to their cells. ( Id. ¶ 49.) As the third-floor supervising officer on duty, Defendant Todd Rodin accompanied the nurse as she passed out medication. ( Id. ) Rodin was responsible for "[throwing] the bar open" to allow all close-B inmates to receive their medication. ( Id. ) During the count, Rodin observed inmates "sticking their heads out of the cells around the area of cell 5337, " and he ordered the inmates to return to their cells. ( Id. ¶ 50, 51.) The inmates complied with Rodin's command. ( Id. ¶ 52.)

Shortly thereafter, Rodin observed Roberts fall backwards out of his cell and land on his back, covered with blood on his head and face. ( Id. ¶ 53.) Roberts sustained 18 stab wounds to the head, neck, and chest area. (FAC ¶¶ 44, 69.) It was later determined that Defendants Arbi Mashi Kamali and Danny Leyva[2] had committed the stabbing, as they were both seen by Rodin crawling out of Roberts's cell covered in blood immediately following the incident. ( Id. ¶ 56.) After ordering Kamali and Leyva to get down to the ground, Rodin called for assistance and initiated an emergency response. ( Id. ¶¶ 60, 59.)

Somehow, Roberts made his way to the second floor of the facility where Defendant Steven Holder, another corrections officer, stopped him. ( Id. ¶¶ 66-67.) Holder later escorted Roberts in the ambulance to the hospital. ( Id. 70.) Defendants Daniel Soto and M. Blankenship secured Kamali and Leyva's cell and searched it for evidence. ( Id. 68.) Soto interviewed Roberts, and Roberts stated that the attack was over a stolen cell phone. ( Id. )

Once Roberts was treated and released from the hospital, he was housed in administrative segregation to protect him from further assault. ( Id. 72.) Roberts alleges that he was housed next door to Kamali and Leyva where he was continually harassed and threatened, causing him to suffer emotional distress. ( Id. ) Roberts repeatedly requested to be moved to a different housing unit but was not transferred until the Prison Law Office intervened. ( Id. 73.)

On October 10, 2013, Roberts filed this action against CDCR[3]; Jerry Brown, Governor of the State of California; Jeffrey Beard, CRCR's Secretary; Matthew Cate, CDCR's former secretary; R. Hughes, Correctional Lieutenant; K. Smith, C-Facility Captain; T. Lansford, Corrections Sergeant; and corrections officers Rodin, Holder, Perez, Ramos, Calderon, Camack, Soto, Rodriguez. (ECF No. 3.)

On January 27, 2014, Defendants filed this Motion in which Rodin- represented by separate counsel-joined. (ECF No. 39.) Roberts timely opposed. (ECF No. 61.) That Motion is now before the Court for decision.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

A court may dismiss a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) for lack of a cognizable legal theory or insufficient facts pleaded to support an otherwise cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). To survive a dismissal motion, a complaint need only satisfy the minimal notice pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2)-a short and plain statement of the claim. Porter v. Jones, 319 F.3d 483, 494 (9th Cir. 2003). The factual "allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). That is, the complaint must "contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

The determination whether a complaint satisfies the plausibility standard is a "context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 679. A court is generally limited to the pleadings and must construe all "factual allegations set forth in the complaint... as true and... in the light most favorable" to the plaintiff. Lee v. City of L.A., 250 F.3d 668, 688 (9th Cir. 2001). But a court need not blindly accept conclusory allegations, unwarranted deductions of fact, and unreasonable inferences. Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001).

IV. DISCUSSION

Roberts brings seven claims[4] against Defendants, including (1) a violation of Plaintiff's rights under the Eighth Amendment; (2) "Failure to Implement Title 15's Rules and Regulations"; (3) negligence; (4) negligent supervision; (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress; (6) negligent infliction of emotional distress; and (7) violation of mandatory duties owed to prisoners. The Court considers each claim in turn.

Initially, the Court notes that Roberts devotes an extensive amount of his oversized Opposition[5] to discuss the issue of California's prison overcrowding. While this topic of discussion is certainly relevant, it is a soliloquy that causes the core matter of this case to be lost. What's more, Plaintiff concedes that CDCR should be dismissed from this lawsuit, but again, dedicates a substantial amount of time arguing that the CDCR is not entitled to immunity under the California Government Code section 815.2(b). (Opp'n 29-31.) But the main issue in this case is whether Defendants bear potential liability stemming from Roberts's prison stabbing-not whether California has complied with prison-overcrowding orders.

A. State-law immunities

Defendants argue that California Government Code sections 820.8 and 845.2 immunize them from liability for any ...


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