United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO: (1) DISMISS COMPLAINT FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM, (2) DIRECT CLERK'S OFFICE TO SEND HABEAS PETITION FORM, AND (3) REQUIRE PLAINTIFF TO FILE HABEAS PETITION OR NOTICE OF VOLUNTARY DISMISSAL WITHIN THIRTY DAYS (ECF NO. 4) FOURTEEN (14) DAY OBJECTION DEADLINE
MICHAEL J. SENG, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff is a civil detainee proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His complaint is before the Court for screening.
I. SCREENING REQUIREMENT
The in forma pauperis statute provides, "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).
II. PLEADING STANDARD
Section 1983 "provides a cause of action for the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States." Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n , 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor , 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989).
To state a claim under § 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. See West v. Atkins , 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Ketchum v. Alameda Cnty. , 811 F.2d 1243, 1245 (9th Cir. 1987).
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)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id . Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 677-78.
III. PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS
Plaintiff is detained at Coalinga State Hospital ("CSH"). He names as Defendants the following persons in their official capacities: (1) Audrey King, Executive Director of CSH, (2) Cliff Allenby, Director of California Department of State Hospitals, (3) Tom Voss, Former Executive Director of CSH, (4) Pam Ahlin, Former Executive Director of CSH, and (5) Stephen Mayberg, former Director of California Department of Mental Health.
Plaintiff's allegations may be summarized essentially as follows.
The Ventura County District Attorney filed a petition pursuant to California's Sexually Violent Predator Act ("SVPA") alleging that Plaintiff required mental health treatment in an inpatient setting because Plaintiff was likely to commit sexually violent predatorial offenses if released into the community. The Ventura County Superior Court adjudicated the petition and ordered Plaintiff be prohibited from taking part in outpatient treatment. Plaintiff is detained at Coalinga State Hospital pursuant to the Superior Court's order. Plaintiff has been in Defendants' custody pursuant to this order since 2009.
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants are aware his confinement is excessively restrictive in relation to the purposes of the SVPA and that he has been irrationally denied the benefits of outpatient treatment. Plaintiff contends that Defendants' assessments of whether Plaintiff was likely to commit sexually violent predatorial offenses if released into the community were based on an irrational and fraudulent assessment scheme. He points to various research studies and other articles purporting to demonstrate that recidivism rates for sexually violent predators are lower than perceived, that the assessment tools used by the State of California are unreliable, and that supervised release and outpatient treatment of sex offenders are as effective as, if not more effective than, civil detention in ensuring such offenders do not recidivate. Plaintiff alleges that the assessment scheme and denial of outpatient treatment violate his Fourteenth Amendment rights to procedural and substantive due process, adequate treatment, equal protection, and to be free from conditions that are excessively restrictive in relation to their purported purposes.
Plaintiff seeks preliminary and permanent injunctive relief preventing Defendants from maintaining custody of individuals detained pursuant to the SVPA until Defendants are able to provide them with outpatient treatment, as well as a declaration that the assessment methodology used is "irrational contrary to ...