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Felix v. Chambers

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 8, 2014

DAVID FELIX, Plaintiff,
v.
CHAMBERS, et al., Defendants.

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF NO. 1) AMENDED COMPLAINT DUE WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS

MICHAEL J. SENG, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. No other parties have appeared in the action.

Plaintiff's complaint is before the Court for screening.

I. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

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, malicious, " or 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).

II. PLEADING STANDARD

Section 1983 "provides a cause of action for the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States." Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n , 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor , 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989).

To state a claim under § 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. See West v. Atkins , 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Ketchum v. Alameda Cnty. , 811 F.2d 1243, 1245 (9th Cir. 1987).

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 , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id . Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 677-78.

III. PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff complains of acts that occurred during his incarceration at Kern Valley State Prison ("KVSP"). Plaintiff names the following individuals, in their individual and official capacities, as Defendants: (1) Correctional Officer Chambers, (2) Correctional Sergeant A. Day, (3) Lieutenant W. Hammer, (4) Chief Deputy Warden D. Davey, (5) Appeals Coordinator C. Cramer, (6) Associate Warden S. Rimbach, (7) Appeals Examiner R. Pimentel, and (8) Office of Appeals Chief J.D. Lozano.

Plaintiff's allegations can be summarized essentially as follows:

On January 29, 2013, Plaintiff was housed in cell 118 in the KVSP medical unit. (ECF No. 1 at 3.) Upon Plaintiff's arrival in the cell, he and a correctional officer noted that the bed in the cell was on its side and had been vandalized. (Id.)

On March 5, 2013, an outside contractor informed Defendant Chambers that the electrical belt on the bed had been torn. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR") rules require that any property damage in excess of $400 caused by an inmate be reported and written up in a Rules Violation Report (RVR). Defendant Chambers did not write up the damage to the bed. (Id.) However, Chambers initiated a $465 charge to Plaintiff's trust account.

Plaintiff is a type 1 diabetic. Because of the charge to his trust account, he was unable to purchase snacks from the canteen to stabilize his blood sugar. As a result, Plaintiff had seizures, hit his head on cement, and bit his tongue. (Id. at 4.) Prison staff did not assist Plaintiff during his seizures and has been slow in treating the injuries Plaintiff received as a result of seizures. (Id. at 5.)

Plaintiff filed a Form 602 appeal regarding the charge to his trust account, but Defendant Cramer screened out the appeal because there was no copy of a related RVR attached. (Id. at 4.) No RVR was available because Defendant Chambers did not write one.

Defendant Day denied Plaintiff's appeal at the first level. Defendant Rimbach approved the denial. Defendant Hammer denied Plaintiff's second level appeal. Defendant Davey approved the denial. Defendant Pimentel denied Plaintiff's third level appeal. Defendant Lozano approved the denial. These decisions were made with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's constitutional rights to due process and to be free from cruel and unusual punishment because Defendants knew that an RVR was needed to justify the charge to Plaintiff's trust account.

Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, damages for mental and emotional distress, and a prohibition against any retaliatory transfer from KVSP.

IV. ANALYSIS

A. Due Process

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his due process rights as follows: Defendant Chambers failed to file an RVR before charging Plaintiff's prison trust account; Defendant Cramer screened out Plaintiff's appeal; and Defendants Day, ...


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