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Seamster v. Baptista

United States District Court, N.D. California

September 18, 2014

LENZO SEAMSTER, Plaintiff,
v.
WILL BAPTISTA, Defendant.

ORDER OF SERVICE

VINCE CHHABRIA, District Judge.

Lenzo Seamster, an inmate at California State Prison-Sacramento, filed a pro se civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Will Baptista, an officer at Pelican Bay State Prison ("Pelican Bay"), where Seamster was formerly incarcerated. Seamster has filed several motions for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, which are granted in a separate order. The Court now addresses the claims asserted in Seamster's complaint.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

A federal court must screen any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity, or officer or employee of a governmental entity, to identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any that: (1) are frivolous or malicious; (2) fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (3) seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). 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 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).

Liability may be imposed on an individual defendant under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 if the plaintiff can show that the defendant's actions both actually and proximately caused the deprivation of a federally protected right. Lemire v. California Dep't of Corrections & Rehabilitation, 726 F.3d 1062, 1074 (9th Cir. 2013); Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988). A person deprives another of a constitutional right within the meaning of Section 1983 if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative act or fails to perform an act which he is legally required to do, that causes the deprivation of which the plaintiff complains. Leer, 844 F.2d at 633.

II. Seamster's Allegations

Seamster's complaint alleges the following.

On September 3, 2012, Seamster was housed in the Psychiatric Services Unit at Pelican Bay. Seamster asked Nurse Lenhart if she could take his blood pressure because he was feeling light-headed. Lenhart said she would when she was finished passing out medications. Five minutes later, Defendant Will Baptista approached Seamster's cell door and asked if he wanted to get his blood pressure checked. Seamster replied "yes." Baptista then ordered Seamster to submit to handcuffs and then to leg restraints. Baptista's request for leg restraints was unusual because Seamster did not have a history of assaultive behavior and he tried to explain this to Baptista. However, Baptista insisted that he wear leg restraints and Seamster complied.

Baptista made Seamster walk very fast down the hall as if he were trying to make Seamster trip in his leg restraints. He also was squeezing Seamster's arm. Baptista brought Seamster to the room where Lenhart took his blood pressure. When Baptista was escorting Seamster back to his cell, he told Seamster to face the wall. Seamster complied and Baptista slammed Seamster's head into the wall briefly knocking him unconscious and to his knees. Baptista then ordered Seamster to crawl on his knees to his cell. When he was in his cell, Baptista took off Seamster's leg restraints and handcuffs.

Seamster felt the lump on his head getting bigger and bigger and asked Baptista to get him medical attention. Baptista smiled and said, "you jailhouse lawyers should learn to mine [sic] your own business." Then he walked away.

Seamster realized he had been attacked because he had been helping several prisoners file grievances against Baptista. Seamster filed a complaint against Baptista for use of excessive force. Then Baptista filed a false rules violation report accusing Seamster of making threats of force or using violence against a public officer. Baptista also retaliated against Seamster by refusing "to feed him."

On September 23, 2012, Seamster attempted suicide by hanging himself. Seamster was transferred to ...


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