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Goolsby v. Lewis

United States District Court, N.D. California

November 20, 2014

THOMAS GOOLSBY, Plaintiff,
v.
G. D. LEWIS, et al., Defendants.

ORDER OF SERVICE RE: DKT. NO. 17

JAMES DONATO, District Judge.

Plaintiff, a state prisoner, has filed a pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's amended complaint was dismissed with leave to amend and he has filed a second amended complaint.

DISCUSSION

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 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. Id. at 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Although a complaint "does not need detailed factual allegations, ... a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds' of his entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.... Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. The United States Supreme Court has explained the "plausible on its face" standard of Twombly: "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that: (1) a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

II. LEGAL CLAIMS

Plaintiff presents many clams of retaliation following his transfer to Pelican Bay State Prison ("PBSP"). "Within the prison context, a viable claim of First Amendment retaliation entails five basic elements: (1) An assertion that a state actor took some adverse action against an inmate (2) because of (3) that prisoner's protected conduct, and that such action (4) chilled the inmate's exercise of his First Amendment rights, and (5) the action did not reasonably advance a legitimate correctional goal." Rhodes v. Robinson, 408 F.3d 559, 567-68 (9th Cir. 2005) (footnote omitted). Accord Pratt v. Rowland, 65 F.3d 802, 806 (9th Cir. 1995) (prisoner suing prison officials under § 1983 for retaliation must allege that he was retaliated against for exercising his constitutional rights and that the retaliatory action did not advance legitimate penological goals, such as preserving institutional order and discipline).

A prisoner must at minimum allege that he suffered harm, since harm that is more than minimal will almost always have a chilling effect. Rhodes, 408 F.3d at 567-68 n.11; see Gomez v. Vernon, 255 F.3d 1118, 1127-28 (9th Cir. 2001) (prisoner alleged injury by claiming he had to quit his law library job in the face of repeated threats by defendants to transfer him because of his complaints about the administration of the library).

In the prior screening order, the Court noted that plaintiff had presented cognizable claims of retaliation against defendants Mills, Barnts, and Soderlund, however his claim regarding denial of access to the courts was dismissed with leave to amend. Plaintiff has filed a second amended complaint but it does not contain a claim regarding access to the courts, therefore the case will continue against Mills, Barnts, and Soderlund for claims of retaliation.

Plaintiff has also sought to add Warden Lewis and Captain Puget as defendants with respect to the retaliation claims. Plaintiff states that Lewis and Puget participated and coordinated the retaliatory acts but provides no support for these allegations. He states that they recruited the other defendants to retaliate against plaintiff but this bare allegation is insufficient under Iqbal. Lewis and Puget are dismissed.

CONCLUSION

1. Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration (Docket No. 17) is GRANTED and the Court has considered ...


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