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Stamos v. Grounds

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 4, 2014

JAMES G. STAMOS, Plaintiff,
RANDY GROUNDS, Warden, Defendant. No. CV13-06012 TEH



Plaintiff James George Stamos, Jr., an inmate at California State Prison-Corcoran (CSP-COR), filed a pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendant Randy Grounds, Warden of Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP), where

Plaintiff was previously incarcerated. Plaintiff moves to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP) and moves for removal from the Security Housing Unit (SHU). Plaintiff is granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in a separate order. For the reasons stated below, the Court dismisses the complaint with leave to amend and denies the motion for removal from the SHU.



A federal court must engage in a preliminary screening of 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 which 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't , 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated and (2) that the 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. California Dept. 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).

A supervisor may be liable under § 1983 upon a showing of personal involvement in the constitutional deprivation or a sufficient causal connection between the supervisor's wrongful conduct and the constitutional violation. Redman v. County of San Diego , 942 F.2d 1435, 1446 (9th Cir. 1991) (en banc) (citation omitted). A supervisor therefore generally "is only liable for constitutional violations of his subordinates if the supervisor participated in or directed the violations, or knew of the violations and failed to act to prevent them." Taylor , 880 F.2d at 1045. This includes allegations that a supervisor implemented "a policy so deficient that the policy itself is a repudiation of constitutional rights and is the moving force of the constitutional violation." Redman , 942 F.2d at 1446; Jeffers v. Gomez , 267 F.3d 895, 917 (9th Cir. 2001).



In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that, on February 22, 2013, SVSP Officers Cermeno and Dorivan falsified reports that accused Plaintiff of battery with a weapon. On March 31, 2013, Plaintiff had a disciplinary hearing presided over by Lt. Ruiz where Plaintiff was unlawfully denied witnesses, the opportunity to present evidence and the opportunity to change his statement. Plaintiff was found guilty and sent to the SHU. Plaintiff appealed, but never received a reply.


Interests that are procedurally protected by the Due Process Clause may arise from two sources - the Due Process Clause itself and laws of the states. Meachum v. Fano , 427 U.S. 215, 223-27 (1976). In the prison context, these interests are generally ones pertaining to liberty. Changes in conditions so severe as to affect the sentence imposed in an unexpected manner implicate the Due Process Clause itself, whether or not they are authorized by state law. Sandin v. Conner , 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995) (citing Vitek v. Jones , 445 U.S. 480, 493 (1980) (transfer to mental hospital), and Washington v. Harper , 494 U.S. 210, 221-22 (1990) ...

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