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Willis v. Beard

United States District Court, E.D. California

October 8, 2014

JEFFREY BEARD, et al., Defendants.


ALLISON CLAIRE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, a state prisoner housed in Los Angeles County and proceeding pro se, seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned. ECF No. 13. By order filed on April 14, 2014, plaintiff's complaint was dismissed with leave to amend within twenty-eight days. ECF No. 14. Plaintiff timely filed an amended complaint. ECF No. 17.

Screening Requirement

As plaintiff has been previously informed, 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).

A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams , 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy , 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). The court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke , 490 U.S. at 327. The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis. See Jackson v. Arizona , 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989); Franklin , 745 F.2d at 1227.

A complaint must contain more than a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action;" it must contain factual allegations sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "The pleading must contain something more... than... a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action." Id., quoting 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, pp. 235-35 (3d ed. 2004). "[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 566 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 570). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id.

In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Rex Hospital Trustees , 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976), construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor. Jenkins v. McKeithen , 395 U.S. 411, 421(1969).

Plaintiff's Allegations

Plaintiff names a single defendant in his amended complaint, Correctional Sergeant Spencer of the California Medical Facility-Vacaville (CMF). Plaintiff accuses defendant Spencer of having "assaulted [him] with malice, " of having been deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by acting "under color [sic] with malice" and of having deliberately "caused" plaintiff "mental anguish" by having "assaulted [plaintiff's brain body [sic] by locking him up for no reason in inhumane ad seg for 12 months." Plaintiff also claims that defendant Spencer "typed up lies" and "fabricated [a] story" which led to his administrative segregation ("ad seg") placement. Amended Complaint, ECF No. 17, at 1-2.

Plaintiff goes on to allege that he was "tortured" by being "forced to live in ad seg" as the result of defendant Spencer's deliberate indifference. Plaintiff refers to having suffered mental anguish which caused "head trauma" and a "constant headache, " because Sgt. Spence fabricated a story that plaintiff's handwriting matched that found on notes in the mail threatening a Dr. Soares (not a party). Plaintiff asserts that defendant Spencer is not a licensed handwriting expert. Plaintiff claims he was denied the right to call a handwriting expert at his hearing, citing Wolff v. McDonell , 418 U.S. 539, 566 (1974). Plaintiff claims he should have been released from ad seg on December 25, 2012 but was kept there until September 17, 2013. Plaintiff also claims that the ICC (institutional classification committee) at CMF (no member of which had been identified as a defendant) kept him in isolation for twelve months. Id. at 3-4. Plaintiff seeks money damages and asks that the defendant be enjoined from harming him for filing this complaint. Id . At 7.

No Injunctive Relief Available

Plaintiff, who complains of an incident at CMF-Vacaville, is currently housed in California State Prison-Lancaster. When an inmate seeks injunctive or declaratory relief concerning the prison where he is incarcerated, his claims for such relief become moot when he is no longer subjected to those conditions. See Weinstein v. Bradford , 423 U.S. 147, 149 (1975); Dilley v. Gunn , 64 F.3d 1365, 1368-69 (9th Cir. 1995). Accordingly, any claim for injunctive relief against the CMF defendant has been rendered moot.

No Colorable Claim Regarding Allegedly False Report

Plaintiff's allegation that a false report was submitted against him does not implicate any protected liberty interest. "The Due Process Clause itself does not contain any language that grants a broad right to be free from false accusations, but guarantees certain procedural protections to defend against false accusations." Shallowhorn v. Gonzalez, 1:11-CV-00305-GBC PC, 2012 WL 1551342 (E.D. Cal. Apr. 30, 2012) aff'd, 514 F.Appx. 660 (9th Cir. 2013) (citing Freeman v. Rideout , 808 F.2d 949, 951 (2nd Cir.1986); see also, Hanrahan v. Lane , 747 F.2d 1137, 1140-41 (7th Cir.1984) (allegation that prison guard planted false evidence in retaliation for prisoner's failure to pay extortion demand fails to state section 1983 claim so long as procedural due process was provided). ...

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