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Rayford v. Blair

United States District Court, N.D. California

January 2, 2015

RAPHAEL GEORGE RAYFORD, Plaintiff,
v.
W. BLAIR, et al., Defendants.

ORDER RECOGNIZING TWO COGNIZABLE CLAIMS AND DISMISSING OTHER CLAIMS WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

VINCE CHHABRIA, District Judge.

Raphael George Rayford, an inmate at Salinas Valley State Prison proceeding pro se, filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against officers of the prison. Rayford has filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, which is granted in a separate order. The Court now addresses the claims asserted in Rayford'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. Rayford's Allegations

Rayford's complaint alleges the following:

On November 17, 2013, Rayford was involved in a dispute about television volume in the day room, which attracted the attention of Correctional Officers W. Blair and M. Espinosa, who walked over to Rayford's cell. Blair opened the food port to Rayford's cell and ordered Espinosa to pepper spray Rayford. Espinosa followed Blair's order and pepper sprayed Rayford and the legal work on which Rayford had been working. Officer E. Munoz, who was stationed in the control tower booth overseeing the cells, acted as a lookout during the pepper-spray incident and kept the doors to the unit locked until it was over. After the incident, Espinosa activated his alarm. Other individuals escorted Rayford to a cell in another area. Rayford was not allowed to decontaminate until the following day. Rayford received his legal property, with the exception of the documents pertaining to his case involving a previous pepper-spray incident. Blair, Espinosa and Munoz sprayed Rayford in retaliation for filing complaints against other prison staff.

As a result of this attack, Rayford experienced burning in his eyes, genitals and face for several hours and his skin was irritated for two days. He was also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and is currently under psychiatric care.

After the pepper-spray incident, Blair, Espinosa and Munoz wrote a false incident report about Rayford. Rayford was waiting to be re-sentenced and released pursuant to a new state rule, but because the defendants filed a false report against him, he is unlikely to qualify for release under that new rule. Also, because of the false rules violation report, Rayford has been placed into administrative segregation for two years.

III. Rayford's Claims

Based on these allegations, Plaintiff asserts claims of retaliation, excessive force, falsifying his rules violation report, and violation of his ...


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