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Johnson v. California Health Care Facility Prison

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 21, 2016

LARVESTER JOHNSON, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
CALIFORNIA HEALTH CARE FACILITY PRISON, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IFP AND DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

          EDMUND F. BRENNAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in an action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.[1]

         I. Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Plaintiff's application makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1) and (2). Accordingly, by separate order, the court directs the agency having custody of plaintiff to collect and forward the appropriate monthly payments for the filing fee as set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) and (2).

         II. Screening Requirement and Standards

         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). The court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint "is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, " or "seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." Id. § 1915A(b).

         A pro se plaintiff, like other litigants, must satisfy the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8(a)(2) "requires a complaint to include a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 554, 562-563 (2007) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). While the complaint must comply with the "short and plaint statement" requirements of Rule 8, its allegations must also include the specificity required by Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).

         To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim a complaint must contain more than "naked assertions, " "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-557. In other words, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Furthermore, a claim upon which the court can grant relief must have facial plausibility. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. When considering whether a complaint states a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must accept the allegations as true, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007), and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, see Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).

         III. Screening Order

         The court has reviewed plaintiff's complaint (ECF No. 1) pursuant to § 1915A and finds that it must be dismissed with leave to amend for failure to state a claim. Plaintiff names the California Healthcare Facility and Warden Brian Duffy as defendants. He alleges that after being "written up, " he was placed on "C" status and then seen by the classification committee. The committee took him off of "C" status and removed him from segregation. About a month later, the committee removed plaintiff from his job and placed him back on "C" status as a program failure. Plaintiff claims that being put back on "C" status violated his right against double jeopardy and deprived him of due process. He also claims his Eighth Amendment rights were violated. Under the applicable standards, discussed below, plaintiff fails to state a proper claim for relief. To proceed, he must file an amended complaint.

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 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. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). An individual defendant is not liable on a civil rights claim unless the facts establish the defendant's personal involvement in the constitutional deprivation or a causal connection between the defendant's wrongful conduct and the alleged constitutional deprivation. See Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 646 (9th Cir. 1989); Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743-44 (9th Cir. 1978). That is, plaintiff may not sue any official on the theory that the official is liable for the unconstitutional conduct of his or her subordinates. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). Instead, he must identify the particular person or persons who violated his rights. He must also plead facts showing how that particular person was involved in the alleged violation.

         Plaintiff fails to state a claim against defendant Warden Duffy because he does not include any factual allegations linking him to a violation of a federal constitutional or statutory right. The alleged supervisory role of Duffy, as Warden, is not a proper basis for liability.

         In addition, the California Healthcare Facility is not a "person" subject to a § 1983 lawsuit. State agencies, such as CDCR and its prisons, are immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment. See Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66 (1989); Lucas v. Dep'tof Corr., 66 F.3d 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995) (per curiam) (holding that prisoner's Eighth Amendment claims against CDCR for damages and injunctive relief were barred by Eleventh Amendment ...


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