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Olivier v. Dunstan

United States District Court, N.D. California

May 2, 2014

MAURICE PIERRE OLIVIER, Plaintiff,
v.
LT. D. DUNSTAN, et al., Defendants.

ORDER OF SERVICE AND PARTIAL DISMISSAL

DONNA M. RYU, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, a state prisoner currently incarcerated at Pleasant Valley State Prison, has filed a pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 stemming from alleged constitutional violations that occurred while he was incarcerated at the California Training Facility ("CTF"). Plaintiff has consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction, and this matter has been assigned to the undersigned Magistrate Judge.

His motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted in a separate written Order.

Venue is proper because the events giving rise to the claims are alleged to have occurred at CTF, which is located in this judicial district. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

In his complaint, Plaintiff states four claims: (1) an excessive force claim stemming from a June 27, 2012 incident; (2)&(4) claims of deliberate indifference to his safety stemming from incidents in June 2011 and May 2012; and (3) a due process claim relating to the guilty finding at his August 8, 2012 disciplinary hearing. Plaintiff names the following Defendants, who are prison officials at CTF: Lieutenant D. Dunstan; Appeals Coordinator J. Truett; Sergeants C. Freeman and A. Gonzales, Jr.; Correctional Officers Alcatar, D. Lucio, R. Ruano, S.E. Baumgardner, L. Cuevas and C. Liberatore; and Investigative Officer S. Hernandez. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.

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).

II. Legal Claims

A. Excessive Force

A prisoner has the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, including physical abuse by guards. Whenever prison officials stand accused of using excessive physical force in violation of the Eighth Amendment, the core judicial inquiry is whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and sadistically to cause harm. Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6 (1992) (citing Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 317 (1986)).

Plaintiff alleges that he was subjected to excessive force by CTF prison officials on June 27, 2012 during his cell placement (Claim 1). Although Plaintiff does not claim he was resisting, Defendants Baumgardner and Cuevas "forcibly drag[ged] Plaintiff across the floor for placement into a cell specifically designed only for one-inmate." Compl. at 6, 8-9.[1] Plaintiff claims that as the supervising sergeant, Defendant Gonzales ordered Defendants Baumgardner and Cuevas to use such force on Plaintiff and "continu[ed] a custom of CDCR Correctional Officers acting with malicious, sadistic and wanton intent via excessive force violating [California Code of Regulations] Title 15 § 3268(a)(2)[2] on 6/27/12." Id. at 6 (footnote added). Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Liberatore failed to intervene by "fail[ing] to act and stop C.O.'s Baumgardner and Cuevas from dragging Plaintiff across the floor...." Id. at 10. Plaintiff claims that this "inhuman[e] treatment exacerbated [his] chronic condition of Fibromyalgia [and] neck, back and shoulder pain" as well as "caused tramatizing [sic] emotional distress and anxiety." Id. at 7.

Liberally construed, Plaintiff's complaint states a cognizable Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Gonzales, ...


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