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Anderson v. Sanchez

United States District Court, N.D. California

May 12, 2015

TUANJA EDWARD ANDERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
E. SANCHEZ, et al., Defendants.

ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

MARIA-ELENA JAMES, Magistrate Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Tuanja Edward Anderson, a California state prisoner currently incarcerated at Salinas Valley State Prison ("SVSP") and proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in a separate order. Based upon a review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, it is dismissed with leave to amend.

DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." "Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what the.... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (citations omitted). Although in order to state a claim a complaint "does not need detailed factual allegations, ... a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.... Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer "enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570.

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 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 deprivation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

B. Legal Claims

The complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. In the portion of the form complaint where a plaintiff is instructed to provide a statement of his claim, Anderson writes the following:

On 2/3/15 there was an argument between inmate Mitchell and C/O [Correctional Officer] Sanchez on D2 EOP yard in Administrative Segregation. Mr. Mitchell was upset and he started cussing at staff. C/O Sanchez told him to watch his language and Mr. Mitchell started teasing C/O Sanchez calling her "Clown Face." I was laughing (inmate Anderson) real hard. Then I heard C/O Sanchez make a comment about having someone sodomize Mr. Mitchell. Then Mr. Mitchell started using racial slurs. Mitchell asked for the warden and she stated "he is on my side, not yours." I kept laughing. When C/O J. Meskus came to my cage, he told me I shouldn't be fishing on the yard. Then when I got to the cell, I was told by other inmates that the staff searched my cell for about 30 minutes while on the yard. When dinner came, my cake had a fingerprint on the icing and spit. I threw the cake in the toilet. Then my noodles had a loogie in them. With all that data, C/O Sanchez told the staff that I, inmate Anderson, was also making racial slurs. I said not one word to Mr. Mitchell nor C/O Sanchez. All I was doing was laughing.

Compl. at 3-5.

The Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons, but neither does it permit inhumane ones. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). The treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment. See Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993). In its prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishment, " the Eighth Amendment places restraints on prison officials, who may not, for example, use excessive force against prisoners. See Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6-7 (1992).

The Amendment also imposes duties on these officials, who must provide all prisoners with the basic necessities of life such as food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, medical care, and personal safety. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 832; DeShaney v. Winnebago County Dep't of Social Servs., 489 U.S. 189, 199-200 (1989). A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment when two requirements are met: (1) the deprivation alleged must be, objectively, sufficiently serious, see Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834 (citing Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991)), and (2) the prison official possesses a sufficiently culpable state of mind, see id. (citing Wilson, 501 U.S. at 297). In determining whether a deprivation of a basic necessity is sufficiently serious to satisfy the objective component of an Eighth Amendment claim, a court must consider the circumstances, nature, and duration of the deprivation; the more basic the need, the shorter the time it can be withheld. See Johnson v. Lewis, 217 F.3d 726, 731 (9th Cir. 2000). Plaintiff's contentions that prison staff tampered with his food on one occasion and searched his cell for 30 minutes on one occasion, though unfortunate, are insufficient to allege a deprivation of the basic necessities of life. See, e.g., Anderson v. County of Kern, 45 F.3d 1310, 1314-15 (9th Cir. 1995) (temporary placement in safety cell that was dirty and smelled bad did not constitute infliction of pain); DeMallory v. Cullen, 855 F.2d 442, 445 (7th Cir. 1988) (correctional officer spitting upon prisoner does not rise to level of constitutional violation); Holloway v. Gunnell, 685 F.2d 150, ...


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