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Pullett v. Castellanos

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 16, 2016

DELL PULLETT, Plaintiff,
v.
J. CASTELLANOS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT

          RALPH R. BEISTLINE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is the Third Amended Complaint filed by Plaintiff Dell Pullett, a California state prisoner appearing pro se and in forma pauperis, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against officials of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.[1]Pullett’s action arises out of his incarceration at the California Substance Abuse and Treatment Facility, Corcoran (“CSATF”). Pullett is currently incarcerated at the R. J. Donovan Correctional Center, San Diego.

         I. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

         This Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.[2] The Court set forth the standards applicable to screening in its initial Dismissal Order;[3] therefore, the Court does not repeat them herein.

         II. PRIOR DISMISSAL ORDERS

         In dismissing the First Amended Complaint the Court permitted Pullett to amend with respect to his Third Cause of Action, an Eighth Amendment claim as against a correctional officer, J. Castellanos, and the John Doe Defendants that arose out of a stabbing incident that occurred while Pullett was walking unescorted between his cell and the infirmary on May 13, 2013.[4]

         Pullett’s Second Amended Complaint consisted of ten paragraphs. The Court dismissed it for failure to comply with the Court’s Order dismissing the First Amended Complaint.[5]

         III. GRAVAMEN OF THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT

         Pullett’s claim arises out an incident in which he was stabbed by two other inmates. Although it is somewhat difficult to follow Pullett appears to allege that in retaliation for the filing of inmate grievances that the Defendants somehow contrived to have him stabbed by other inmates.

         Castellanos. Pullett alleges that: (1) Pullett observed Castellanos talking with inmate Simas and hand him a brown paper bag; (2) Castellanos then called Pullett into the office and berated Pullet for filing grievances, essentially warning Pullett that “he was going to start searching Black inmates cells to cause trouble on the plaintiff, and that no-one write (sic) him up and get (sic) away with it”;[6] and (3) immediately after Castellanos’ warning inmate Simas stabbed Pullett in the neck and Simas’ cellie stabbed him in the lung.[7]

         Kelm/Melero. Reduced to their essence, the allegations against Kelm and Melero are that they should have known that Pullett was a target for the assault but turned a “blind-eye” for their friend, Castellanos.

         Atkins. Pullett appears to allege that Atkins: (1) failed to properly train and supervise his subordinates; (2) ordered the other officers to retaliate against Pullett for filing grievances, and (3) conspired with Atkins, Kelm, and Melero to have Pullet stabbed.

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Initially the Court notes that Pullett sues the Defendants in both their individual and official capacities. The Supreme Court has held that “states or governmental entities that are considered ‘arms of the State’ for Eleventh Amendment” are not “persons” under § 1983.[8] The Supreme Court also clarified that “a suit against a state official in his or her official capacity . . . . is no different from a suit against the state itself.”[9] Thus, to the extent that Pullett is suing the Defendants in their official capacities, the action must be dismissed.

         The heart of Pullett’s Third Amended Complaint is that the attack was engineered by Castellanos in retaliation for filing the internal complaints. The Ninth Circuit has defined the parameters of a retaliation claim:

Within the prison context, a viable claim of First Amendment retaliation entails five basic elements: (1) An assertion that a state actor took some adverse action against an inmate (2) because of (3) that prisoner's protected conduct, and that such action (4) chilled the inmate's exercise of his First Amendment rights, ...

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