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Springfield v. Moore

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Francisco Division

May 1, 2015

CIRON BENTAY SPRINGFIELD, Plaintiff,
v.
M. MOORE, Chief Deputy Warden; et al., Defendants.

ORDER OF SERVICE

LAUREL BEELER, Magistrate Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Ciron Bentay Springfield filed this pro se prisoner's civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The court reviewed the complaint, identified deficiencies in two claims, and ordered Mr. Springfield to file an amended complaint. He filed an amended complaint, which is now before the court for review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. This order determines that the amended complaint states claims upon which relief may be granted and requires the Marshal to serve process on the two defendants.

STATEMENT

This action concerns the conditions of confinement at the Salinas Valley Psychiatric Program ("SVPP"), where Mr. Springfield was sent for mental health care in late December 2012. The amended complaint generally repeats the allegations of the original complaint. The amended complaint alleges the following:

An institutional classification committee ("ICC") hearing was held on January 4, 2013, at which chief deputy warden Moore was the chairperson and correctional counselor Meden was the recorder. The ICC dismissed a social worker's recommendation to lower Mr. Springfield's custody classification from maximum custody, and decided to continue Mr. Springfield on maximum custody based on outdated information that incorrectly identified him as a validated associate of a prison gang. As a result of his retention on maximum custody, Mr. Springfield faced higher restrictions than he would have faced if his custody level was lowered. ECF No. 13 at 7.

The decision of chief deputy Moore and correctional counselor Meden at the ICC hearing to keep Mr. Springfield on maximum custody "deliberately interfered/delayed the plaintiff access to seriously needed mental health treatment." Id. at 9 (errors in source); see also id. at 13. Correctional counselor Meden "recommended that the plaintiff be classified max custody instead of psy/un, thus, disregarding the excessive risk of harm posed to the plaintiff after being notified by sL.C.S.W. Hernandez of the plaintiff serious need for mental health treatment." Id. at 13.

The ICC's decision to keep Mr. Springfield on maximum custody was not supported by sufficient evidence with adequate indicia of reliability, and was made without allowing Mr. Springfield to present his written statement. Id. at 10.

The decision of chief deputy Moore and correctional counselor Meden at the ICC hearing to keep Mr. Springfield on maximum custody caused Mr. Springfield to be denied access to the exercise yard from December 27, 2013 until April 2013. See id. at 14-15. Defendants were aware that inmate-patients, such as Mr. Springfield, who were on maximum security/cuff status were not allowed to attend the exercise yard. See id. at 4.

ANALYSIS

A federal court must engage in a preliminary screening of any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review the court must identify any cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims which 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. See id. at § 1915A(b). Pro se complaints must be liberally construed. See Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010).

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

Upon review of the original complaint, the court had determined: (1) the complaint stated a cognizable claim for a violation of Mr. Springfield's Eighth Amendment rights based on the delay, denial, or interference with care for his mental health needs, ECF No. 7 at 4; (2) the complaint did not state a claim for a due process violation based on the decision to classify him as maximum custody or Close A custody, id. at 6; (3) the complaint did not state an Eighth Amendment claim based on the denial of outdoor exercise because, although a three-month deprivation of access to outdoor exercise was a sufficiently serious deprivation, the complaint did not allege "that this deprivation resulted from anyone's deliberate indifference, " id. at 7.

The amended complaint (like the original complaint) states a claim against the two defendants for a violation of Mr. Springfield's Eighth Amendment rights based on the delay, denial, or interference with care for his mental health needs. See ECF No. 7 at 3-4. The amended complaint (like the original complaint) does not state a claim for a violation of Mr. Springfield's right to due process for the reasons stated at pages 5-6 of the order of dismissal with leave to amend. See ECF No. 7 at 5-6. In a nutshell, the defendants' classification decision to keep Mr. Springfield at the same level of custody did not deprive him of a liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472 (1995); see also Hernandez v. Johnston, 833 F.2d 1316, 1318 (9th Cir. 1987). The amended complaint cured the deficiency in ...


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