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Perna v. SF County Jail# 2

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 29, 2015

SF COUNTY JAIL #2, Defendant.


JAMES DONATO, District Judge.

Plaintiff, a detainee, has filed a pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The original complaint was dismissed with leave to amend and plaintiff has filed an amended complaint.



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. Id. at 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." Although 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 to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. The United States Supreme Court has explained the "plausible on its face" standard of Twombly: "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).

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


Plaintiff challenges many conditions concerning her confinement in San Francisco County Jail. When a pretrial detainee challenges conditions of her confinement, the proper inquiry is whether the conditions amount to punishment in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 n.16 (1979). "[T]he State does not acquire the power to punish with which the Eighth Amendment is concerned until after it has secured a formal adjudication of guilt in accordance with due process of law. Where the State seeks to impose punishment without such an adjudication, the pertinent guarantee is the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.'" Id. (quoting Ingraham v. Wright, 430 U.S. 651, 671-72 n.40 (1977)).

A court presented with a procedural due process claim by a pretrial detainee should first ask if the alleged deprivation amounts to punishment and therefore implicates the Due Process Clause itself; if so, the court then must determine what process is due. See, e.g., Bell, 441 U.S. at 537-38 (discussing tests traditionally applied to determine whether governmental acts are punitive in nature). Disciplinary segregation as punishment for violation of jail rules and regulations, for example, cannot be imposed without due process, i.e., without complying with the procedural requirements of Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539 (1974). See Mitchell v. Dupnik, 75 F.3d 517, 523-26 (9th Cir. 1996).

If the alleged deprivation does not amount to punishment, a pretrial detainee's due process claim is not analyzed under Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 474 (1995), which applies to convicted prisoners, but rather under the law as it was before Sandin. See Valdez v. Rosenbaum, 302 F.3d 1039, 1041 n.3 (9th Cir. 2002). The proper test to determine whether detainees have a liberty interest is that set out in Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 472 (1983), and Kentucky Dep't of Corrections v. Thompson, 490 U.S. 454, 461 (1989). Under those cases, a state statute or regulation creates a procedurally protected liberty interest if it sets forth "substantive predicates' to govern official decision making" and also contains "explicitly mandatory language, " i.e., a specific directive to the decisionmaker that mandates a particular outcome if the substantive predicates have been met. Thompson, 490 U.S. at 462-63 (quoting Hewitt, 459 U.S. at 472).

If the alleged deprivation does not amount to punishment and there is no state statute or regulation from which the interest could arise, no procedural due process claim is stated and the claim should be dismissed. See Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 223-27 (1976) (interests protected by due process arise from Due Process Clause itself or from laws of the states).

Plaintiff is also informed that here is no constitutional right to a prison administrative appeal or grievance system. See Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 860 (9th Cir. 2003); Mann v. Adams, 855 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1988); accord Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 565 (1974) (accepting Nebraska system wherein no provision made for administrative review of disciplinary decisions).

Plaintiff states that she had no access to stationary from October 16, 2014, to November 8, 2014, her attempts to purchase items through the commissary were denied, her inmate appeals were not addressed, her due process rights were violated in discipline hearings, and there was no access to hair care services. Other than listing these grievances, plaintiff provides no specific information and identifies no individual defendants. Plaintiff's prior complaint was dismissed with leave to amend to cure these same deficiencies, but she has failed to provide additional information. She will be granted one final opportunity to amend. She must provide additional information regarding her claims and identify how individual named defendants violated her rights. ...

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