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Sanders v. Mixon

United States District Court, N.D. California

September 3, 2014

ERICK RANDALL SANDERS, Plaintiff,
v.
Sheriff's Deputy MIXON, Defendant.

ORDER OF SERVICE

SUSAN ILLSTON, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Erick Randall Sanders, currently an inmate at the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo, filed this pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His complaint and amended complaint were dismissed with leave to amend before this action was reassigned to the undersigned. His second amended complaint (Docket # 20) is now before the court for review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

DISCUSSION

A. Review of Second Amended Complaint

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. See 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. See id. at § 1915A(b). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d

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. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

In his second amended complaint, plaintiff alleges that Alameda County Sheriff's Deputy Mixon used force on him while he was housed in the 9-Block housing unit in the "green psych dorm." Docket # 20 at 3. Deputy Mixon allegedly kicked plaintiff in the lower back, grabbed him with both hands and choked him. Deputy Mixon's actions "crack[ed plaintiff's] back hip area." Id. An inmate grievance response attached to the second amended complaint states that the alleged use of excessive force occurred on February 20, 2014. Id. at 6.

The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects a pretrial detainee from the use of force that amounts to punishment. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 395 n.10 (1989) (citing Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535-39 (1979)). The Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments protects a convict from force used maliciously and sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm. See generally Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6 (1992). Liberally construed, the second amended complaint states a cognizable § 1983 claim against defendant deputy Mixon for excessive force, regardless of whether the claim arises under the Eighth or Fourteenth Amendment.

The second amended complaint does not state a claim against Alameda Sheriff's Deputy Fredicson because there are no allegations that he played any role in the use of force. Further leave to amend will not be granted because the court already explained to plaintiff that he needed to allege what this defendant "did to contribute to the alleged use of excessive force, " Docket # 18 at 3, and plaintiff alleged nothing about this defendant in his second amended complaint. Defendant Fredicson is dismissed from this action.

The second amended complaint does not state a claim against the other listed defendant, the Alameda County Santa Rita Jail. The jail is a place, and does not appear to be an entity that may be sued. If plaintiff intended to sue the Alameda County Sheriff's Department as the operator of the jail, the defendant would have to be dismissed because there are no allegations against it. Neither the jail nor the Sheriff's department have § 1983 liability simply because Deputy Mixon worked there. There is no respondeat superior liability under § 1983, i.e. no liability under the theory that one is responsible for the actions or omissions of an employee. See Board of Cty. Comm'rs. of Bryan Cty. v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 403 (1997).

B. Miscellaneous Matters

In a letter to the court, plaintiff stated that he wants a "serious break" on his sentence because he was beaten up by the man into whose backyard he intruded. Docket # 23 at 2. He also stated in that letter that he would drop the action against deputy Mixon as well as his contemplated action against the man who beat him up if this court would "knock down [his] sentence." Id. Plaintiff misunderstands the litigation process: nothing that occurs in this action will affect his sentence from state court. If he prevails in this action, he might obtain a monetary award, but this court will not shorten his state court sentence or order him released from custody.

If plaintiff wants to pursue an action against the person into whose backyard he intruded, he must file a new action in state court. This court is not suggesting that such an action would have any merit, ...


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