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Houx v. Koll

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 24, 2015

VICTOR HOUX, Plaintiff,
v.
LUKE KOLL, et al., Defendants.

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND, FOR FAILURE TO STATE A COGNIZABLE CLAIM FOR RELIEF [ECF No. 1]

STANLEY A. BOONE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Victor Houx is appearing pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Individuals detained pursuant to California Welfare and Institutions Code § 6600 et seq. are civil detainees and are not prisoners within the meaning of the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Page v. Torrey, 201 F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir. 2000). Plaintiff filed the instant complaint on January 28, 2015.

I.

SCREENING REQUIREMENT

The Court is required to screen Plaintiff's complaint and dismiss the case, in whole or in part, if the Court determines it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). 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)), and courts "are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences, " Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

Pro se litigants are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor, Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121-23 (9th Cir. 2012); Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010), but Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible to survive screening, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

II.

COMPLAINT ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff is detained at Coalinga State Hospital in Coalinga, California, where the events giving rise to this action occurred. Plaintiff names Audrey King, Executor Director of Coalinga, Luke Koll, Psych Tech., and David Lewright, Former Unit 8 Supervisor, as Defendants.

On March 3, 2014, at approximately 4:15 p.m., Plaintiff was in his living area on Unit 8, when Luke Koll knocked loudly on Plaintiff's dorm room door and announced in a loud voice, "locker search." Koll then entered Plaintiff's privacy curtain, at which time Plaintiff got up from his bed and said "no problem." Defendant Koll instructed Plaintiff to remove his shirt and Plaintiff complied. Koll then instructed Plaintiff to remove his shorts and boxer shorts. Plaintiff stated, "I'll remove my pants and you can look into my boxer shorts" at which point he pulled out the top of my boxer shorts so defendant could see inside.

Defendant then stated, "I need you to take off your shorts and boxers too." At this point Plaintiff replied, "You can't strip search me, besides there are females in the room." The female staff member's name is Ebony, who was in the process of searching another individuals living area in the same dorm whose privacy curtain was completely open as well.

Defendant Koll then stated, "It's OK, the curtains will cover you." At this point Plaintiff again complained that Defendant could not stripe search him without cause. Defendant got a smug look on his face and replied, "This is a just cause search. I was ordered to perform this search on you." Plaintiff then replied, "that doesn't sound right." Defendant then stated, "that's the order."

Defendant Koll was the only staff member present in Plaintiff's bed area during the entire search with the curtain open. Plaintiff reluctantly complied with all Defendants' order under protest. Plaintiff removed all of his clothing, and stood in front of him completely nude, while Koll inspected Plaintiff's clothing. When Koll finished inspecting the clothing, he handed Plaintiff the clothes back and Plaintiff got dressed. Upon reflection, Plaintiff contends there were a couple of instances where Plaintiff noticed Defendant Koll looking at him while he was inspecting Plaintiff's clothing. During the entire time, unit staff member Ebony and the other officers searching the other area in the dorm were approximately 7 to 10 feet away from where Plaintiff was and the curtains were fully open the entire time.

Thereafter, Koll without assistance proceeded to search Plaintiff's living area in a reckless and indifferent manner. During the search, Koll requested and was provided with three gray property storage bins. He then began placing all of his property into the bins. When ...


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