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Weathers v. Hagemeister-May

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 29, 2015

WINONA WEATHERS, Plaintiff,
v.
M. HAGEMEISTER-MAY, et al., Defendants.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO DISMISS AMENDED COMPLAINT WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM (ECF No. 12) OBJECTIONS DUE WITHIN FOURTEEN (14) DAYS

MICHAEL J. SENG, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Winona Weathers is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. She has declined Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. (ECF No. 5.) Plaintiff's original complaint was dismissed for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 7.) Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (ECF No. 12) is before the Court for screening.

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 Cty., 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 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 667-68.

III. PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff claims Defendants refused to allow her to wear personal boots while working at the Prison Industry Authority (PIA)[1] fabric facility at Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla, California (CCWF), and reassigned her to a different PIA facility when she refused to wear state-issued boots.

Plaintiff names as Defendants (1) Hagemeister-May, PIA Superintendent at CCWF, (2) Lasik, PIA Supervisor at CCWF, (3) Johnson, CCWF Warden, (4) Lozano, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR") Chief of Appeals, (5) Beard, CDCR Director.

More specifically, Plaintiff complains that:

She has had chronic foot problems, including bunions and weak arches, since childhood. She must wear orthotic arch supports to prevent pain and the collapse of her arches. She held accommodation chromos allowing her to wear orthotics and a knee brace and specifying that she could not wear "hard shoes." The boots she typically wears are Timberland work boots, which are spacious enough to accommodate her orthotics and provide her feet with sufficient support. Plaintiff concedes that no one has diagnosed her with a disability.

Plaintiff was assigned to work at the PIA fabric facility as a seamstress. The PIA requires all workers to wear state boots. Plaintiff signed a "PIA Factory Inmate Rules" sheet acknowledging the state boot requirement. According to Plaintiff, her orthotics do not fit in the state boots, and even without orthotics, Plaintiff cannot wear the state boots without extreme pain. She was not permitted to work at PIA Fabric unless she wore the state boots.

Plaintiff filed a 602 appeal requesting to keep her position at PIA Fabric and to be permitted to wear her personal boots to work, and at the first level was interviewed by Defendant Hagemeister-May. Plaintiff offered to show Hagemeister-May her personal boots, an offer Defendant apparently declined. Instead, Hagemeister-May denied Plaintiff's request to keep the PIA Fabric job after reviewing Plaintiff's Accomodation Chronos and a "Medical Verification Response" indicating the medical department does not approve personal shoes for use at work.

Plaintiff's appeal was denied at the second level by Defendant Johnson, whose response indicated that prison staff had compared Plaintiff's personal boots to the state boots, and concluded that Plaintiff's personal boots were "soft leather, not hard leather which is needed for safety reasons in the PIA environment." Johnson concluded that Plaintiff was not "eligible to remain assigned to PIA due to [her] inability to wear a hard leather State work boot."

Plaintiff's appeal was denied at the third level after Defendant Lozano concluded that "appellant could not safely work in the PIA workplace while wearing" her personal boots.

Plaintiff alleges that the state boot requirement is not consistently enforced. She cites three other inmates who have apparently secured exemptions from the policy. The first is a woman who broke her toe on the job, but was subsequently permitted to come to work with an open-toed cast or boot. The second is a woman whose feet were too big for the state boot sizes, and the third is a woman whose feet were too narrow for the state boots. The two latter women were permitted to have work boots custom-made for them.

Plaintiff was re-assigned to a PIA dental facility job because she refused to wear state boots. The dental job was apparently not comparable in pay or opportunity.

Plaintiff alleges she was retaliated against for filing the 602 appeal. She claims she received a phone call in November 2012 - while her appeal was still pending - from an unknown male, who asked her if she wanted to return to work at PIA Fabric. After Plaintiff said yes, the man said he would call back to discuss options. Instead of calling back, Plaintiff was told to report to the infirmary, where she was told that her personal boot chrono would be revoked and she would instead be issued an orthotic shoe chrono. Plaintiff asserts that this change of chronos guarantees that she will not have the opportunity to return to PIA Fabric.

Plaintiff seeks (1) declaratory relief, (2) an affirmative injunction that Defendants stop all selective discrimination through the CDCR, and (3) monetary damages.

IV. ANALYSIS

Plaintiff claims that failing to exempt her from the state boot requirement - thereby prohibiting her from working at PIA Fabric - violates the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as the the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Fair Labor Standard Act. She also alleges that Defendants' actions violate state law. As the court explains in detail below, Plaintiff has not adequately linked all defendants to her claims, and her federal claims are not cognizable. There is no evidence that Plaintiff has complied with the claim presentation ...


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