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Wells v. Baptista

United States District Court, N.D. California

February 2, 2015

LA'KEITH DESHAWN WELLS, Plaintiff,
v.
W. G. BAPTISTA, Defendant.

ORDER OF SERVICE

YVONNE GONZALEZ ROGERS, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, a state prisoner, has filed a pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, stemming from a March 19, 2013 incident at Pelican Bay State Prison ("PBSP"), where he was formerly housed. He alleges that Defendant PBSP Correctional Officer W. G. Baptista used excessive force against him. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.

Plaintiff has filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, which will be granted in a separate written Order.

Venue is proper because the events giving rise to the claim are alleged to have occurred at PBSP which is located in this judicial district. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

DISCUSSION

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks 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 that 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. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). 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 essential 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).

II. EXCESSIVE FORCE CLAIM

A prisoner has the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, including physical abuse by guards. Whenever prison officials stand accused of using excessive physical force in violation of the Eighth Amendment, the core judicial inquiry is whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and sadistically to cause harm. Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6 (1992) (citing Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 317 (1986)).

Plaintiff alleges that on March 19, 2013, he was subjected to excessive force by Defendant Baptista. Dkt. 1 at 3. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that on the date of the incident he had reported that he was suicidal. Id . Defendant Baptista escorted Plaintiff out of his cell and to the rotunda in order to conduct a strip search of Plaintiff. Id. Once at the rotunda, Defendant Baptista and PBSP Correctional Officer Crunk forced Plaintiff to the ground on his knees. Id. While Plaintiff was on his knees, he claims that Defendant Baptista struck him in the face, eye, and head with "powerful blows to the head." Id. Defendant Baptista also threw Plaintiff to the ground and kicked him. Id.

Liberally construed, Plaintiff's complaint states a cognizable Eighth Amendment claim ...


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