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Thomas v. Brown

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 13, 2014

MELVIN H. THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
BROWN, et al., Defendants.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING DISMISSAL OF FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT THIRTY-DAY DEADLINE

DENNIS L. BECK, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Melvin H. Thomas ("Plaintiff"), a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action on June 3, 2013. The action was transferred to this Court on June 14, 2013.

On February 14, 2014, the Court screened Plaintiff's complaint and dismissed it with leave to amend. Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint ("FAC") on March 10, 2014. Plaintiff names California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Director Jeffrey Beard, and the Honorable Mark Cope as Defendants.

A. LEGAL STANDARD

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners 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 prisoner 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).

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)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Id . (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id.

To state a claim, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Id. at 1949. This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal , 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service , 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Iqbal , 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50; Moss , 572 F.3d at 969.

B. SUMMARY OF PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS[1]

Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in Corcoran State Prison in Corcoran, California.

Plaintiff's FAC is based on his contention that under Brown v. Plata and related litigation, the California prison system remains overcrowded and violates his Eighth Amendment rights. He alleges that Defendant Brown has refused to comply with the Supreme Court's directive to reduce California's inmate population, and has enforced an "unauthorized sentence in violation of California appellate law..." ECF No. 9, at 11.

Plaintiff contends that Defendant Brown implemented and perpetrated systems, customs and policies that violate Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights, and has enforced Plaintiff's unauthorized sentence. Plaintiff states that he does not seek to negate the validity of his sentence, but he believes that his sentence is moot and unauthorized under both federal and state law. Plaintiff contends that the violations of the Eighth Amendment impose additional, post-sentence punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Plaintiff alleges that he has been severely affected by the "medical and mental health issues on-going in the California system." ECF No. 9, at 14. In his attached declaration, he states that he contracted tuberculosis in May 2004 and received treatment. In January 2005, while incarcerated at Pleasant Valley State Prison, Plaintiff was diagnosed with Valley Fever, though he wasn't diagnosed until he was "well on the way to recovery." ECF No. 9, at 27. Plaintiff states that he suffered permanent scarring of his lungs as a result. Plaintiff also contends that he has suffered numerous denials of his religious rights.

Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Cope failed to explore a wide-range of sentencing options as ordered by Brown v. Plata, and therefore acted outside the scope of his judicial function in imposing a sentence that violated Plaintiff's federal rights. He contends that Defendant Cope should have known about the ongoing overcrowding that was at least seven years old at the time of Plaintiff's sentencing.

As to Defendant Beard, Plaintiff alleges that he implemented and perpetrated systems, customs and policies that violate Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights. Plaintiff contends that he knew of the "constitutional atrocities" occurring in the ...


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