United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND GRANTING PLAINTIFF LEAVE TO FILE AN AMENDED COMPLAINT
GARY S. AUSTIN, Magistrate Judge.
I. Screening Requirement
Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This proceeding was referred to this court by Local Rule 302 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
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).
"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, an inmate in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) at the CSP Corcoran, brings this civil rights action against defendant CDCR officials employed by the CDCR at Pleasant Valley State Prison. The events at issue occurred while Plaintiff was housed at Pleasant Valley. Plaintiff names as defendants the following individuals: Correctional Officer (C/O) R. Hand' C/O C. Hendricks; C/O D. Moore; C/O Cole.
Plaintiff alleges that he was subjected to excessive force. Plaintiff alleges that he is a disabled inmate, and that correctional officers assaulted him. One of the officers struck him in the ribs. Plaintiff alleges that as a result he broke two ribs.
A. Excessive Force
The Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment protects prisoners not only from inhumane methods of punishment but also from inhumane conditions of confinement." Morgan v. Morgensen , 465 F.3d 1041, 1045 (9th Cir. 2006). [W]hile conditions of confinement may be, and often are, restrictive and harsh, they must not involve the wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain.'" Id . (Quoting Rhodes v. Chapman , 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981)). "What is necessary to show sufficient harm for purposes of the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause depends on the claim at issue...." Hudson v. McMillian , 503 U.S. 1, 8 (1992).
For excessive force claims, the issue is "whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and sadistically to cause harm." Hudson , 503 U.S. at 7. Although de minimis uses of force do not violate the Constitution, the malicious and sadistic use of force to cause harm always violates the Eighth Amendment, regardless of whether or not significant injury is evident." Id. at 9-10.
Here, the Court finds that although Plaintiff has sufficiently alleged that he was subjected to excessive force, he does not specifically link any of the named defendants to the use of force. To state a claim under section 1983, a plaintiff must allege that (1) the defendant acted under color of state law and (2) the defendant deprived him of rights secured by the Constitution or federal law. Long v. County of Los Angeles , 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006). "A person deprives another of a constitutional right, where that person does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts, or omits to perform an act which [that person] is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made.'" Hydrick v. Hunter , 500 F.3d 978, 988 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Johnson v. Duffy , 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978)). "[T]he requisite causal connection can be established not only by some kind of direct, personal participation in the deprivation, but also by setting in motion a series of acts by others which the actor knows or reasonably should know would cause others to inflict the constitutional injury.'" Id . (quoting Johnson at 743-44). Plaintiff has not specifically charged each defendant with conduct indicating that they subjected Plaintiff to excessive force. Plaintiff may not hold defendants liable simply by alleging a use of force and naming individuals as defendants. Plaintiff must allege facts indicating that each defendant engaged in conduct that constitutes excessive force. Plaintiff has failed to do so here. The complaint should therefore be dismissed. Plaintiff will, however, be granted leave to file an amended complaint.
Plaintiff need not, however, set forth legal arguments in support of his claims. In order to hold an individual defendant liable, Plaintiff must name the individual defendant, describe where that defendant is employed and in what capacity, and explain how that defendant acted under color of state law. Plaintiff should state clearly, in his or her own words, what happened. Plaintiff must describe what each ...