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Sullivan v. Shein

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 11, 2014

J. SHEIN, et al., Defendants.


GARY S. AUSTIN, Magistrate Judge.

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff is a civil detainee proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).[1]

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by individuals seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the individual has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious, " that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that... the action or appeal... fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

"Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions, " none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A. , 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Pursuant to Rule 8(a), 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). "Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Swierkiewicz , 534 U.S. at 512. However, "the liberal pleading standard... applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations." Neitze v. Williams , 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). "[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled." Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin. , 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents , 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).

II. Plaintiff's Claims

Plaintiff, a civil detainee in the custody of the California Department of Mental Health (CDMH) at Coalinga State Hospital (CSH), brings this civil rights action against officials employed by the CDMH at CSH. Plaintiff names the following individual defendants: J. Shein, Ph.D.; R. Withrow, M.D.; J. Sandhu; S. Mayberg; C. Allenby. Plaintiff claims he is being illegally confined at CSH because of improper evaluation procedures.

Plaintiff was admitted to CSH from Atascadero State Hospital in 2006. Plaintiff was admitted to Atascadero State Hospital in 1999. Plaintiff alleges that on November 16, 2006, he was found to be an SVP pursuant to § 6604 in the Santa Clara County Superior Court. Plaintiff alleges that he has been committed in three consecutive occasions, despite the fact that he has no visual signs or symptoms of a diagnosed mental disorder.

Plaintiff alleges that the staff that has evaluated him as a SVP did so "with the full knowledge that Plaintiff does not, and never did, meet the criteria as a sexually violent predator." Plaintiff contends that because rape is not a mental disorder as defined by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), he should not be committed, as he does not have a diagnosed mental disorder.

Plaintiff also alleges that he is being denied due process. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that "they refuse to evaluate him in accordance to the proper components contained within the concepts of the DSM." Plaintiff alleges that he is evaluated annually based upon a "set methodology" in which evaluators form their opinion of an individual's indeterminate commitment. Plaintiff alleges that, instead of the methodology employed, "accurate identification of Plaintiff's mental condition would seem to require the eventual validation of a universal concept specifying a set of categories into which Plaintiff would be classified."

It appears that Plaintiff is challenging the factual basis of his evaluation as a SVP. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have "deliberately and intentionally misapplied the factual evidence of his diagnosis, which is coercive paraphilia rape disorder. A condition not listed within the DSM as an official diagnosis to justify his indeterminate commitment, or, to even classify him as a SVP pursuant to WIC 6600(c), a (danger to) himself and the community at large."

Plaintiff summarizes his complaint at follows:

In sum, Plaintiff insists that during the entire time of his incarceration at CSH, as described in paragraphs 14 through 29, he did participate in different treatment programs which addressed the nature of his sexual offending. Moreover, Plaintiff did not deliberately disobey any of the Superior Court's treatment demands, nor do anything to warrant the harsh and brutish indeterminate commitment that has been imposed on him. Heretofore, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants denied him procedural due process and substantive due process, which is the "reasonable test" before applying the "unreasonable ...

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