United States District Court, E.D. California
CIRON B. SPRINGFIELD, Plaintiff,
VISMAL J. SINGH, et al., Defendants.
ORDER and FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
ALLISON CLAIRE, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff is a state prisoner, currently incarcerated at California State Prison, Los Angeles County (CSP-LAC), who proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action proceeds on plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (FAC) filed March 18, 2013. ECF No. 21. Upon screening the FAC pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915A(a), this court found that it appeared to state the following claims against the following sixteen defendants at three separate prisons, CSP-LAC, California State Prison Sacramento (CSP-SAC), and the California Medical Facility (CMF):
Plaintiff makes colorable claims of due process violations in the gang validation investigative process at the facilities and/or by his continued/extended placement in administrative segregation, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), against CSP-LAC defendants: Investigative Services Unit (ISU) Correctional Officer (CO) D. Mebane; Assistant Institutional Gang Investigator (AIGI) R. Clemons; Chief Deputy Warden (CDW) C. Wofford; Correctional (Corr.) Capt. T.L. Cromwell; IGI Capt. D.J. Williams; and IGI D. Romero; against CMF defendants Warden V. Singh; CDW Brian Duffy; CDW E. Arnold; ISU Lt. T. Lee; Correctional Counselor (CC) II K. Allen; and ISU CO Hernandez; and against CSP-SAC defendants: CDW R. Meier; Corr. Capt. R. O'Brian; Corr. Lt. A. Konrad; and Asst. IGI C. Villasenor. Plaintiff also makes cognizable claims of deliberate indifference to his serious mental health condition against defendants Wofford; Clemons; Allen; Singh; Arnold; Meier.
ECF No. 24 at 2.
Currently pending are two motions filed by the defendants: (1) a motion for summary judgment premised on plaintiff's alleged failure to exhaust his administrative remedies before commencing this action, pursuant to Rule 56, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; and (2) a motion to dismiss premised on plaintiff's alleged failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
This action is referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), Local Rule 302(c), and Local General Order No. 262. For the reasons that follow, this court recommends that defendants' motions be granted in part and denied in part.
B. Related Case
On January 28, 2014, the district judge issued a Related Case Order that related this case to plaintiff's subsequently-filed case, Springfield v. Allen, Case No. 2:13-cv-00809 KJM AC P. See ECF No. 47. By separate findings and recommendations, the undersigned has recommended that Springfield v. Allen, Case No. 2:13-cv-00809 KJM AC P, be dismissed without prejudice to plaintiff pursuing his duplicative claims against defendants Allen, Singh and Arnold in the instant action. In addition, it is recommended herein that plaintiff be granted leave to file a Second Amended Complaint, to ensure inclusion of all plaintiff's relevant allegations and claims against these three defendants as well as the other defendants retained in this action.
II. ALLEGATIONS OF THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT (FAC)
Due to the length and detail of the verified FAC, as well as its omission of pertinent facts that are otherwise apparent in plaintiff's numerous exhibits, this summary of plaintiff's allegations includes references to his exhibits and the information contained therein. See n. 6, infra.
The FAC alleges that on March 21, 2011, defendant CSP-LAC ISU CO Mebane initiated an investigation into plaintiff's interactions with another CO concerning possible criminal activity. In an effort to obtain plaintiff's cooperation, defendant Mebane placed plaintiff in the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU). On the morning of March 30, 2011, plaintiff was released back to the general population. The supporting Classification Chrono CDC 128-G, dated March 30, 2011, was signed by defendant CSP-LAC CDW Wofford, and notes that plaintiff was released back to the general population based on the termination of the criminal investigation against him. ECF No. 21 at 28.
However, on the afternoon of March 30, 2011, defendant CSP-LAC IGI Romero, defendant CSP-LAC AIGI Clemons and another CO entered plaintiff's cell, took photographs of plaintiff's body, and informed plaintiff that if he didn't cooperate in the investigation, he would "do life in the SHU" (Segregated Housing Unit). On the same day, defendants initiated a gang validation investigation against plaintiff, and issued a CDC 114-D (ASU Placement Notice) authorizing plaintiff's placement in the ASU. The CDC 114-D was prepared by Lt. Porter on behalf of Lt. Thomas; defendant Romero signed the form with a notation that he served a copy on plaintiff March 30, 2011 at 2:32 p.m. Id. at 48. The March 30, 2011 CDC 114-D was approved, signed and dated by defendant CSP-LAC Corr. Capt. Cromwell on April 11, 2011.
Plaintiff alleges that he was not informed of the CDC 114-D until April 3, 2011, by Corr. Sgt. Diaz, and was not served with it until April 13, 2011, upon plaintiff's request. Plaintiff also asserts that his ICC hearing on the March 30, 2011 CDC 114-D was not held until May 5, 2011. Id. at 9-10.
On May 23, 2011, a classification staff representative recommended a 30-day extension of plaintiff's ASU placement. ECF No. 21 at 10, 70. However, on June 13, 2011, defendant AIGI Clemons recommended a 90-day extension due to the ongoing investigation of plaintiff's alleged gang activity. Id. at 10, 71. On June 16, 2011, pursuant to an ICC meeting that included plaintiff and a Staff Assistant, CDW Wofford approved a 90-day extension of plaintiff's ASU placement pending completion of plaintiff's gang validation package by defendant AIGI Clemons. Id. at 10, 72.
Plaintiff relies on these events to allege that defendants Mebane, Romero, Clemons, Cromwell, and Wofford denied plaintiff due process and were deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's mental health needs by obtaining and extending plaintiff's initial ASU confinement. Id. at 9-10, 16-7.
On July 22, 2011, defendant AIGI Clemons authored a General Chrono concerning the status of the investigation into plaintiff's gang activity and plaintiff's mental health treatment. Id. at 79. The Chrono provided in pertinent part (id.):
On March 30, 2011, [plaintiff]... was retained in [the ASU] at [CSP-LAC] due to an ongoing investigation by the CSP-LAC [IGI].... [¶] On April 5, 2011, Springfield was placed on suicide watch and re-housed in the Correctional Treatment Center (CTC) Infirmary. On April 14, 2011, Springfield was transferred to the California Medical Facility (CMF) on Mental Health Crisis bed status. On April 22, 2011, Springfield was transferred back to LAC and re-housed in Ad-Seg. On June 16, 2011, Springfield was again placed back on suicide watch and again re-housed back in the CTC.
On June 21, 2011, the investigation was completed by this investigator relevant to Springfield's association with the Black Guerilla Family [BGF]. There is sufficient evidence to submit a validation package to the Office of Correctional Safety (OCS). Part of the validation investigation requires that Springfield review the investigation documents for 24 hours and submit a written rebuttal to the evidence which he disagrees with. Per Departmental policy, while housed in the infirmary on Suicide Watch, Inmate Springfield could not possess a pen or pencil for his personal safety. On June 24, 2011, Springfield was removed from Suicide Watch status pending transfer to the Department of Mental Health (DMH). It is my opinion at this time that Inmate Springfield is utilizing the [DMH] as a means to avoid the validation process. Springfield will be served the validation evidence prior to transfer to DMH. Because Springfield was removed from Suicide Watch on 6-24-11, he can now possess a pen or pencil allowing him to submit a rebuttal to the validation evidence. The activities and associations of Inmate Springfield will continue to be monitored and documented wherever gang activity is suspected.
Plaintiff contends that defendant Clemons violated his due process rights and was deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's mental health needs by maliciously and vindictively continuing plaintiff's illegal confinement and denying plaintiff mental health treatment. Id. at 17; see also id. at 20-1.
On August 3, 2011, the CMF Psychiatric Clinical Assessment Team (CAT) informed CSP-LAC (specifically, Dr. Musina, who had referred plaintiff) that plaintiff "met the criteria for admission" into CMF's DMH Acute Care Program and was "approved for transfer." Id. at 78. Plaintiff was transferred to CMF/DMH on August 5, 2011.
On August 25, 2011, plaintiff's case factors were considered by a CMF Unit Classification Committee (UCC) chaired by defendant CMF CC II Allen. Plaintiff contends that defendant Allen, "in transaction with" defendants Mebane, Wofford and Clemons, violated his due process rights and was deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's mental health treatment needs by maliciously and vindictively continuing plaintiff's illegal confinement, and by depriving plaintiff of access to mental health treatment by retaining his maximum custody status. Id. at 10-1, 17-8. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendant Allen violated his due process when she:
(1) Deprived the plaintiff of the opportunity to present documentary evidence, request witnesses, receive a staff assistant, (2) Failed to release the plaintiff from Ad-Seg after reviewing his case factors, and (3) unlawfully continued the plaintiff[s] atypical confinement without "some evidence" with "some indicia of reliability;" or sufficient evidence and reliance information to support her decision.
Id. at 10-1. In addition, plaintiff alleges that defendant Allen was deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's serious mental health needs when she:
(1) Deprived the plaintiff of access to mental health treatment by failing to temporarily reduce his custody in accordance with his PSY/U[A] designation, [and] (2) unlawfully continued the plaintiff[s] atypical confinement on cuff status in P-2 Acute Psychiatric Program (APP) where he suffered injury Exhibit R.
Id. at 18.
Review of the underlying CDC 128-G Chrono indicates that plaintiff was "in absentia per C.C.R. § 3375(3)(B) for a DMH review on this date... based on committee considering all clinical assessments and input related to Subject's current required Acute care. A pre-committee conference was conducted with Subject in order to explain the UCC process...." Id. at 73. It was noted that plaintiff "arrived at CMF/DMH on 8/5/2011 from SVSP-IV via LAC-ASU as a PSY/RTN." Id. The UCC, per defendant Allen, decided in pertinent part to "[a]ccept [plaintiff for] CMF/DMH acute care program for psychiatric treatment and return from SVSP-IV via LAC-ASU. Maintain Max Custody...." Id.
The exhibits to the FAC also include a September 28, 2011 "Petition for Judicial Determination Re: Involuntary Medication, " submitted by CMF psychiatrist Dr. Shirzai, for an interim order authorizing the administration of involuntary psychotropic medication to plaintiff until the matter was decided on the merits. It was noted that plaintiff had a "recent history of suicide attempts, including cutting his wrists, swallowing sharp metallic objects, and hanging attempts, " id. at 88, and that involuntary medication had been initiated on September 12, 2011, and authorized for an additional 21 days. A hearing was scheduled for October 6, 2011. Id. at 80-90.
Plaintiff next contends that on December 30, 2011, defendant CSP-LAC IGI Corr. Capt. Williams denied plaintiff due process and was deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's mental health needs by failing to provide plaintiff with a written record of his validation package 14 days before it was submitted to the OCS. Id. at 11.
Plaintiff also contends, without a date of occurrence, that defendant CMF-ISU Lt. Lee violated plaintiff's due process rights when he:
(1) Presented an insufficient and unreliable validation package to CMF Warden V. Singh empty of "some evidence" with "some indicia of reliability, " (2) Recommended Warden V. Singh to continue the plaintiff[s] atypical confinement, (3) Failed to investigate documentary evidence and interrogate witnesses, (4) Failed to respond to the plaintiff[s] Form 22 (Inmate Request) Exhibit D, and (5) Failed to issue the plaintiff a written record.
Id. at 12.
Plaintiff next alleges that on January 11, 2012, at a CMF ICC hearing, defendant CMF Warden Singh, "in transaction with" defendants Allen, Wofford, Clemons, Lee, and CMF-ISU CO Hernandez, maliciously and vindictively continued plaintiff's illegal confinement. Id. at 11-2, 18-9, 67. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendant Singh denied him due process when he:
(1) Prohibited the plaintiff from participating in the discussion of the ICC hearing, (2) Deprived the plaintiff of the opportunity to present documentary evidence, request witnesses, receive a staff assistant, (3) Accepted ISU Correctional Lt. T. Lee[s] recommendation as fact without investigating other evidence, and (4) Unlawfully continued the plaintiff[s] atypical confinement on Discretionary Program Status (DPS) without... sufficient evidence and reliable information to support his decision.
Id. at 11-2. Plaintiff also alleges that defendant Singh was deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's serious mental health needs when he:
(1) Deprived the plaintiff of access to mental health treatment by failing to temporarily reduce the plaintiff[s] custody, (2) Knowingly allowed the plaintiff to actively decompensate, (3) Unlawfully denied CMF-CAT  psychiatric referral, (4) Illegally continued the plaintiff[s] atypical confinement on DPS, despite the plaintiff[s] treating clinician input.
Id. at 19.
Plaintiff alleges that on January 18, 2012, defendant Singh again violated plaintiff's rights, in part by adhering to the recommendation of defendant Lee that plaintiff be interviewed by the Office of Internal Affairs (OIA). Plaintiff states that he was interviewed by an unidentified OIA agent on January 19, 2012 and again threatened with life in the SHU. Id. at 13, 19.
Plaintiff also alleges that defendant Singh denied him due process when he "didn't allow the plaintiff to participate" at the January 18, 2012 CMF-ICC hearing, and that Singh continued to be deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's serious mental health needs when, "on January 18, 2012 during a CMF-ICC/IDTT hearing Exhibit F, p.2, Warden V. Singh denied CMF/CAT psychiatric referral by unlawfully affirming his January 11, 2012 committee decision, " id. at 12, 19.
On January 25, 2012,  the CMF ICC denied plaintiff's request to participate in DMH's Unit P-3/ICF program without physical restraints. Id. at 64. Plaintiff was in attendance, as were defendants CC Allen and CMF CDW Arnold. The meeting, chaired by defendant Arnold, was convened for the purpose of considering plaintiff's "participation at CMF in the DMG P-3/ICF Program without (w/o) the use of physical or mechanical restraints." Id. The ICC declined to authorize removal of plaintiff's restraints for the following reasons:
[I]t is ICC's opinion that due to the inmate's current validation processing, coupled with concerns of a high placement score of 205 points (having been charged and found guilty of Serious RVR charges in the past, which has kept him at a Level-IV overall scores), committee believes he cannot safely participate, within this particular program at this time. Due to the current validation process, it is in the interest of safety and security that this inmate be retained on ASU status, while housed at DMH.
Id. The ICC noted plaintiff's concerns that his ASU status rendered him "unable to participate [in] the full potential' of the program, " but opined "that the use of restraints and limited movement within the DMH program will not take away from the treatment that DMH provides to inmate patients." Id. Plaintiff alleges that, pursuant to this decision, defendant Arnold, "in transaction with" defendants Singh, Allen, Lee, Mebane, Clemons and Hernandez, deprived plaintiff of his due process rights and was deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's mental health needs, by continuing plaintiff's unlawful confinement, and unlawfully modifying plaintiff's classification status. Id. at 13, 19-20. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendant Arnold denied him due process when he:
(1) Deprived the plaintiff of the opportunity to present documentary evidence, request witnesses, receive a Staff Assistant and have his declaration recorded, (2) Failed to investigate the due process violation regarding the written record, (3) Unlawfully continued the plaintiff[s] atypical confinement on DPS without "some evidence with "some reliable indicia of reliability;" or sufficient evidence and reliable information to support his decision, (4) unlawfully changed the plaintiff[s] classification status from PSY/DMH to ASU/DMH, and (5) Failed to discontinue the plaintiff "RE" (Racially Eligible) designation.
Id. at 13. In addition, plaintiff alleges that defendant Arnold was deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's mental health needs when he:
(1) Deprived the plaintiff of access to mental health treatment by failing to temporarily reduce the plaintiff[s] custody in accordance with his PSY/UA designation, (2) Knowingly allowed the plaintiff to actively decompensate, (3) Unlawfully denied CMF-CAT psychiatric referral, (4) Illegally continued the plaintiff[s] atypical confinement on DPS, and (5) Illegally changed the plaintiff[s] classification from PSY/DMH to ASU/DMH.
Id. at 20.
On February 9, 2012, plaintiff was formally validated as a member of the BGF prison gang. Id. at 75 (noting that the validation was based on a package submitted December 30, 2011 by defendant CSP-LAC IGI Williams). See also id. at 77; but see ECF No. 35-8 at 49 (validation formalized March 19, 2012; plaintiff informed on April 9, 2012).
Significantly, however, a decision in one of plaintiff's administrative appeals on May 14, 2102 noted that OSU had rescinded plaintiff's validation package in recognition that plaintiff had been denied due process. See ECF No. 35-8 at 49-50. The rescission was without prejudice to a renewed validation package complying with due process standards; however, the record contains no allegations or evidence that a new validation process was initiated.
Thereafter, on June 6, 2012, the CMF ICC approved plaintiff's participation in CMF's "DMH/ICF-VPP Program" "without restraints." Id. at 74. Plaintiff's custody status was temporarily reduced to "CLOSE A" for "DMH/ICF cell programming purposes only." Id. The decision noted that "[u]pon DMH/ICF discharge [plaintiff's] custody will revert back to MAX based on said pending gang validation." Id. The subject CDC 128-G Chrono was signed by defendant CMF CDW Duffy, and others. Plaintiff contends that Duffy acted maliciously and vindictively, without due process and with deliberate indifference to plaintiff's mental health needs in continuing plaintiff's illegal confinement upon his anticipated transfer from CMF. Plaintiff also contends that his comments at the June 6, 2012 hearing, and his declaration, were not recorded on the subject CDC 128-G Chrono. Id. at 13-4.
Plaintiff was transferred from CSP-LAC to CSP-SAC on July 28, 2012, and admitted into a Mental Health Crisis Bed Unit. Id. at 77. Plaintiff alleges that, on August 31, 2012, defendant CSP-SAC AIGI Villasenor unlawfully reissued a CDC 128-B-2 Chrono on plaintiff. Id. at 14 (citing id. at 75). A CDC 128-G Classification Chrono dated September 4, 2012, documents plaintiff's alleged refusal to appear before the CSP-SAC ICC/IDTT [Interdisciplinary Treatment Team] for a "Vitek hearing" on August 31, 2012. Id. at 76. The subject Chrono, signed by defendants CSP-SAC CDW Meier, CSP-SAC Corr. Capt. O'Brian and others, noted approval of plaintiff's prospective transfer back to DMH. Id. Plaintiff alleges that this chrono demonstrates that Meier denied plaintiff due process and was deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's mental health needs. Id. at 15, 20.
Plaintiff alleges that on September 10, 2012, defendant CSP-SAC Corr. Lt. Konrad denied plaintiff due process and was deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's mental health needs when he authored a CDC 114-D (ASU Placement Notice) directing that plaintiff be housed in the ASU based on plaintiff's (apparently rescinded) gang validation dated February 9, 2012. Id. at 15-6. The chrono noted that plaintiff would be seen by the ICC within 10 days. Id. at 77. CSP-SAC Corr. Capt. O'Brian approved the chrono on September 11, 2012. Id.
Based on these factual allegations, plaintiff contends that his ongoing restricted confinement at each prison, pursuant to the numerous challenged official meetings and decisions, and the process of his gang validation, violated plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process. Plaintiff also contends that his maximum custody status at each prison, particularly while receiving mental health treatment at CMF, constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. By this action, plaintiff seeks punitive damages and the following injunctive relief: the court's in camera review of the confidential source items underlying each Form CDC 1030 submitted in support of plaintiff's initially-proposed gang validation; an order requiring defendants to disclose all information underlying any new gang validation notice; an order excusing plaintiff from any requirement to provide a written rebuttal in response to any new evidence allegedly in support of his gang validation, thus according plaintiff the right to be free of self-incrimination; an order expunging from plaintiff's Central File any data that identifies plaintiff as a gang associate; an order requiring plaintiff's immediate release from Administrative Segregation and a reduction in his classification to "Close B;" and an order directing that plaintiff have immediate access to mental health treatment. ECF No. 21 at 5, 23.
III. MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Defendants move for summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as to all claims and defendants with the exception of his due process claim against defendant Lee. See ECF No. 51-2 at 7-8; ECF No. 67 at 3. Plaintiff filed an opposition, ECF No. 63; defendants filed a reply, ECF No. 67. Plaintiff thereafter filed a surreply, ECF No. 74, which defendants move to strike, ECF No. 75.
The Local Rules do not authorize the routine filing of a surreply. Nevertheless, a district court may allow a surreply "where a valid reason for such additional briefing exists, such as where the movant raises new arguments in its reply brief." Hill v. England, 2005 WL 3031136, at *1 (E.D. Cal. 2005); accord Norwood v. Byers, 2013 WL 3330643, at *3 (E.D. Cal. 2013) (granting the motion to strike the surreply because "defendants did not raise new arguments in their reply that necessitated additional argument from plaintiff, plaintiff did not seek leave to file a surreply before actually filing it, and the arguments in the surreply do not alter the analysis below"), adopted, 2013 WL 5156572 (E.D. Cal. 2013). In the present case, defendants did not raise new arguments in their reply brief, ...