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Million v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 2, 2014

SHANNON WHITE and CHARLIE MILLION, Plaintiffs,
v.
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION, et al., Defendants.

ORDER OF DISMISSAL

KANDIS A. WESTMORE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiffs Shannon White and Charlie Million, state prisoners incarcerated at Salinas Valley State Prison ("SVSP"), have filed a pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of their constitutional rights by staff at SVSP. Plaintiffs have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge over this action. However, only Plaintiff White has filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") with a completed IFP application. His motion for leave to proceed IFP is granted in a separate order. Although Plaintiff Million has received notice that he must file an IFP application by January 13, 2014 or his case would be dismissed, he has not done so. Therefore, the claims brought in this case by Plaintiff Million are dismissed without prejudice to filing in another case.[1] The Court now addresses the claims asserted by Plaintiff White.

DISCUSSION

I. 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. 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. Id. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. 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. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

Liability may be imposed on an individual defendant under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 if the plaintiff can show that the defendant's actions both actually and proximately caused the deprivation of a federally protected right. Lemire v. Caifornia Dep't of Corrections & Rehabilitation, 726 F.3d 1062, 1074 (9th Cir. 2013); Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988); Harris v. City of Roseburg, 664 F.2d 1121, 1125 (9th Cir. 1981). A person deprives another of a constitutional right within the meaning of § 1983 if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative act or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do, that causes the deprivation of which the plaintiff complains. Leer, 844 F.2d at 633. Under no circumstances is there respondeat superior liability under § 1983. Lemire, 726 F.3d at 1074. Or, in layman's terms, under no circumstances is there liability under § 1983 solely because one is responsible for the actions or omissions of another. Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989); Ybarra v. Reno Thunderbird Mobile Home Village, 723 F.2d 675, 680-81 (9th Cir. 1984). A supervisor may be liable under § 1983 upon a showing of (1) personal involvement in the constitutional deprivation or (2) a sufficient causal connection between the supervisor's wrongful conduct and the constitutional violation. Henry A. v. Willden, 678 F.3d 991, 1003-04 (9th Cir. 2012). It is insufficient for a plaintiff only to allege that supervisors knew about the constitutional violation and that they generally created policies and procedures that led to the violation, without alleging "a specific policy" or "a specific event" instigated by them that led to the constitutional violation. Hydrick v. Hunter, 669 F.3d 937, 942 (9th Cir. 2012).

II. Plaintiff's Claims

Plaintiff White alleges the following. On April 10, 2013, Plaintiff White submitted a request for an interview regarding a "federal mandated transponder, and since Inmate Welfare Funds is paiding [sic] for Free Local Channels, then I should be ever [sic] to receive all 15 channels." He also requested that he be allowed to fundraise for more channels. He wants a transponder so he can receive channels from Digital TV because he is paying for bad service through DirecTV. He submitted more requests for interviews on this subject. On June 23, 2013, Plaintiff White filed a class action staff complaint on this subject. The complaint was rejected because inmates are not allowed to file group complaints. Plaintiff then filed a group appeal. This was rejected on the ground that it was untimely.

Based on these allegations, Plaintiff White brings the following class action claims: (1) a violation of First Amendment rights based upon the denial of Plaintiffs' rights to appeal and petition the government for redress of grievances; (2) a violation of Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights based on the denial of Plaintiffs' rights to petition the government for redress of grievances; and (3) negligence based on "hiring violent and mentally unstable persons."

A. Class Action Allegations

"[A] litigant appearing in propria persona has no authority to represent anyone other than himself." Russell v. United States, 308 F.2d 78, 79 (9th Cir. 1962). The allegations pertaining to a class action are dismissed because pro se prisoner-plaintiffs are not adequate class representatives able to fairly represent and adequately protect the interests of a class. See Oxendine v. Williams, 509 F.2d 1405, 1407 (4th Cir. 1975).

B. Exhaustion

The Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996) ("PLRA") provides: "No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under [42 U.S.C. § 1983], or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted." 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Exhaustion is mandatory and not left to the discretion of the district court. Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 84 (2006). Exhaustion is a prerequisite to all prisoner lawsuits concerning prison life, whether such actions involve general conditions or particular episodes, whether they allege excessive force or some other wrong, and even if they seek relief not available in grievance proceedings, such as money damages. Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 524 (2002). All available remedies must be exhausted; those remedies "need not meet federal standards, nor must they be plain, speedy, and effective.'" Id. (citation omitted). Because exhaustion under § 1997e(a) is an affirmative defense, a complaint may be dismissed for failure to exhaust only if failure to exhaust ...


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