United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDING CERTAIN COGNIZABLE CLAIMS AND DISMISSING OTHER CLAIMS
ORDER FOR PLAINTIFF TO EITHER: (1) FILE AN AMENDED COMPLAINT,
OR (2) NOTIFY COURT OF HIS WILLINGNESS TO PROCEED ONLY
AGAINST DEFENDANTS AND CLAIMS FOUND COGNIZABLE IN THIS ORDER.
THIRTY-DAY DEADLINE (DOC. 15.)
Anthony Saavedra ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner
proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in
this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff filed the Complaint commencing this action on July
25, 2013. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff subsequently filed a first
amended complaint (ECF No. 15), which is now before this
Court for screening.
August 12, 2013, Plaintiff consented to Magistrate Judge
jurisdiction in this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(c),  and no other parties have made an
appearance. (Doc. 4.) Therefore, pursuant to Appendix A(k)(4)
of the Local Rules of the Eastern District of California, the
undersigned shall conduct any and all proceedings in the case
until such time as reassignment to a District Judge is
required. Local Rule Appendix A(k)(3).
LEGAL STANDARDS FOR SCREENING
Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or
employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the
prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous
or malicious, " that fail to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b)(1), (2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or
any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall
dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . .
. the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. §
8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil
actions, with limited exceptions, " none of which
applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema
N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a).
Pursuant to Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain "a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief . . . ." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a).
"Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair
notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds
upon which it rests." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at
512. However, "the liberal pleading standard . . .
applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations."
Neitze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989).
"[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint
may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not
initially pled." Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union
Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting
Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir.
ALLEGATIONS IN PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT
claims that he was wrongfully retained in the Security
Housing Unit (SHU) in solitary confinement for over a decade
on the basis of coerced, erroneous, false, unreliable and
unreasonable allegations of gang activity without Due Process
of the law. He claims that he was not given sufficient notice
of information to adequately prepare and present his views,
did not have a meaningful opportunity to present any views to
the critical decision maker, and was not given any meaningful
on April 15, 2004, Plaintiff was placed in Administrative
Segregation Confinement for confidential informant
allegations of having a romantic relationship with a female
prison guard. Two days later, he was asked to "debrief,
" i.e., inform against the female guard and others. When
he refused, the Internal Affairs Unit asked their courterpart
at the Instituional Gang Investigators (IGI) to begin
developing and approving a validation of Plaintiff as a
prison gang associate of the "Mexican Mafia."
Plaintiff was then validated as a gang member and given an
indefinite SHU term beginning in January 2008. One month
later, IGI generated a document claiming Plaintiff had
alleged safety concerns with the Mexican Mafia based on an
allegation that Plaintiff was in "bad standings"
with the Mexican Mafia and was taken "off program."
From 2008 until 2013, Plaintiff appeared for periodic 180-day
reviews, which lasted less than 8 minutes and focused on
whether Plaintiff was suicidal and whether Plaintiff was now
willing to "debrief." The IGI reviews stated that
Plaintiff's gang status classification would not be
reviewed for 6 years unless he debriefed.
years into the SHU term, Plaintiff was told that IGI was
going to revalidate him based on second hand/hearsay
allegations that Plaintiff owes an unidentified gang member a
debt for unspecified reasons. There was also information from
2006 concerning a Pelican Bay inmate telling a sergeant that
Plaintiff was the "shot-caller" in contact with an
unnamed gang member. Plaintiff was given an opportunity to
write down any comments. Plaintiff asked to have a personal
interview with the decision maker. Prison officials responded
that "this written response is your interview and is all
you got coming." On November 12, 2010, Plaintiff was
claims that such conditions of confinement violated the
Eighth Amendment. He alleges that Plaintiff is substantially
deprived of human contact and interaction. He spends nights
and days in a cell the size of a dog kennel. It is all
concrete except for stainless steel sink/toilet. It is cold
in the winter and hot in the summer. Exercise occurs in a
fenced-in cage, which is dirty and unsanitary. His out door
exercise is often cancelled for "shortage of
guards" and other excuses. Plaintiff is prohibited from
any phone calls absent a death of an immediate family member
or a court-ordered attorney call. Visits with family are
limited to one hour with no physical contact.
was never charged with a CDC rule violation for any specific
also claims that he was given unsanitary food and inadequate
cleaning supplies for basic sanitation. Due to the method of
preparation, the food trays are stacked on dirty-unsanitized
push carts, which are used for dirty, soiled laundry and
trash. The food is always cold and contaminated by dust,
flies, and mosquitoes. The staff supplying the food do not
wear any hairnets, kitchen caps or other sanitary devices.
also lacked adequate cleaning supplies and safe living
conditions. Plaintiff lacks soap, disinfectant, mop, broom,
or extra towel.
a hunger strike, certain prison officials met to discuss
prisoner complaints about living conditions. But the
conditions were not remedied.
also brings a claim based on deliberate indifference to
Plaintiff's mental health. Plaintiff alleges that the
decade in solitary confinement resulted in major depression
and sleep disorder. The mental health care was woefully
inadequate. Although the prison was supposed to monitor
prisoners suffering from mental health issues, this sometimes
consisted of walking through the unit to slide a cross-word
puzzle under the door. Although operational procedures
require private consultations, many of these were missed for
invalid reasons. Plaintiff sought various forms of treatment,
including social skills training, education and work
programs, but was denied.
also brings a claim for violation of the First Amendment for
retailation. Plaintiff alleges that multiple prison officers
threatened him and intimated him in an attempt to stop him
from complaining. For example, Defendant Beer told Plaintifff
that he did "not like jail-house lawyers" and that
if Plaintiff kept filing 602 complaints, he would move them
and take all their property. Defendant Beer also told
Plaintiff "if you start up again with all your crying
and filing 602's, I'm going to move your a@# out of
the building and take all of your property and make your life
miserable, and no, I'm not going to approve you to assist
anyone with legal work, so don't even both submitting
anymore requests." Defendants denied Plaintiff's
request to provide legal assistance to other inmates.
Defendant Hayse also searched Plaintiff's cell and told
Plaintiff "How do you like my cell searches?...Keep on
complaining about things to the warden and next time I'll
throw away all your legal crap and move you to
next brings a claim for interference and breach of
confidential attorney-client communications. Plaintiff
received pro bono assistance of counsel in certain cases. In
June of 2012, Defendants began a systematic and continuous
pattern of opening and reviewing Plaintiff's confidential
attorney-client and legal mailings without his consent.
Defendants also returned certain legal mail without providing
it to Plaintiff. Certain of the opened mail concerned
correspondence regarding settlement strategy. At one point,
Defendant Ortega told Plaintiff "I heard you like to sue
IGI's and file a lot of complaints, so I have to read all
of your mail and make sure you aren't trying to sue
also brings a claim for denial of right of access to the
courts. Plaintiff alleges that defendant interfered with the
internal prison grievance system by imposing substantial
roadblocks to filing and pursuing a grievance.
Plaintiff brings a claim for failure to train and supervise,
alleging that the violations are part of a custom and
practice at the prison.
names approximately 26 individuals related to Corcoran State
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects prisoners
from being deprived of life, liberty, or property without due
process of law. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539,
556 (1974). The procedural guarantees of the Fifth and
Fourteenth Amendments' Due Process Clauses apply only
when a constitutionally protected liberty or property
interest is at stake. See Ingraham v.
Wright, 430 U.S. 651, 672-73 (1977); Bd. of Regents
v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 569 (1972); Jackson v.
Carey, 353 F.3d 750, 755 (9th Cir. 2003); Neal v.
Shimoda, 131 F.3d 818, 827 (9th Cir. 1997); Erickson
v. United States, 67 F.3d 858, 861 (9th Cir. 1995);
Schroeder v. McDonald, 55 F.3d 454, 462 (9th Cir.
1995); Tellis v. Godinez, 5 F.3d 1314, 1316 (9th
interests can arise both from the Constitution and from state
law. See Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209,
221 (2005); Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 466
(1983). The Due Process Clause itself does not confer on
inmates a liberty interest in avoiding "more adverse
conditions of confinement." Id. The Due Process
Clause itself does not confer on inmates a liberty interest
in being confined in the general prison population instead of
administrative segregation. See Hewitt, 459 U.S.
at 466-68; see also May v. Baldwin,
109 F.3d 557, 565 (9th Cir. 1997) (convicted inmate's due
process claim fails because he has no liberty interest in
freedom from state action taken within sentence imposed and
administrative segregation falls within the terms of
confinement ordinarily contemplated by a sentence)
(quotations omitted); Resnick v. Hayse, 213 F.3d
443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000) (plaintiff's placement
and retention in the SHU was within range of confinement
normally expected by inmates in relation to ordinary
incidents of prison life and, therefore, plaintiff had no
protected liberty interest in being free from confinement in
the SHU) (quotations omitted).
respect to liberty interests arising from state law, the
existence of a liberty interest created by prison regulations
is determined by focusing on the nature of the deprivation.
Sandin, 515 U.S. at 481-84. Liberty interests
created by prison regulations are limited to freedom from
restraint which "imposes atypical and significant
hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents
of prison life." Id. at 484; see also Myron
v. Terhune, 476 F.3d 716, 718 (9th Cir. 2007); Jackson,
353 F.3d at 755; Serrano v. Francis, 345 F.3d 1071,
1078 (9th Cir. 2003); Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d
850, 860 (9th Cir. 2003). When conducting the Sandin
inquiry, Courts should look to Eighth Amendment standards as
well as the prisoners' conditions of confinement, the
duration of the sanction, and whether the sanctions will
affect the length of the prisoners' sentence.
See Serrano, 345 F.3d at 1078;
Ramirez, 334 F.3d at 861; Keenan v. Hall,
83 F.3d 1083, 1089 (9th Cir. 1996). The placement of an
inmate in the SHU indeterminately may amount to a deprivation
of a liberty interest of "real substance" within
the meaning of Sandin. See
Wilkinson, 545 U.S. at 224. The
"atypicality" prong of the analysis requires not
merely an empirical comparison, but turns on the importance
of the right taken away from the prisoner. See
Carlo v. City of Chino, 105 F.3d 493, 499 (9th Cir.
1997). A plaintiff must assert a "dramatic
departure" from the standard conditions of confinement
before due process concerns are implicated.Sandin,
515 U.S. at 485-86; see also Keenan, 83 F.3d at
1088-89. "Some conditions of confinement may
establish an Eighth Amendment violation ‘in
combination' when each would not do so alone."
Chappell v. Mandeville 706 F.3d 1052, 1061 (9th Cir.
2013) (citing Wilson, 501 U.S. at 304).
determine if the Plaintiff's removal to solitary
confinement constitutes an "atypical and significant
hardship, " the Court examines: (1) the extent of
difference between segregation and general population; (2)
the duration and intensity of the conditions confinement; and
(3) whether the sanction extends the length of the
prisoner's sentence. Cepero, 2015 WL 1308690 at
*14; see also Sandin, 515 U.S. at 486-87.
"Typically, administrative segregation in and of itself
does not implicate a protected liberty interest."
Serrano v. Francis, 345 F.3d 1071, 1078 (9th
Cir.2003). Furthermore, "the decision to hold an inmate
in administrative segregation imposes few procedural burdens
on prison officials." Cepero, 2015 WL 1308690
at *14. A prison official provides adequate due
process by "holding an informal, non-adversarial
evidentiary hearing within a reasonable time after
administrative segregation begins." Id.
assignment of validated gang members to the SHU is an
administrative measure rather than a disciplinary measure,
and is "essentially a matter of administrative
segregation." Bruce v. Ylst, 351 F.3d 1283,
1287 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting Munoz v. Rowland, 104
F.3d 1096, 1098 (9th Cir. 1997)). As such, Plaintiff is
entitled to the minimal procedural protections set forth in
Toussaint, such as notice, an opportunity to be
heard, and periodic review. Bruce, 351 F.3d at 1287
(citing Toussaint, 801 F.2d at 1100). Due process
also requires that there be an evidentiary basis for the
prison officials' decision to place an inmate in
segregation for administrative reasons. Superintendent v.
Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455 (1985); Toussaint, 801
F.2d at 1104-05. This standard is met if there is ‘some
evidence‘ from which the conclusion of the
administrative tribunal could be deduced. Id. at
1105. The standard is only "minimally
stringent" and the relevant inquiry is whether there is
any evidence in the record that could support the conclusion
reached by the prison decision-makers. Cato v.
Rushen, 824 F.2d 703, 705 (9th Cir. 1987). The
"some evidence" standard applies to an inmate's
placement in the SHU for gang affiliation. See
Bruce, 351 F.3d at 1287-88.
prisoner is placed in administrative segregation, prison
officials must, within a reasonable time after the
prisoner's placement, conduct an informal, non-adversary
review of the evidence justifying the decision to segregate
the prisoner. See Hewitt, 459 U.S. at 476,
abrogated in part on other grounds by Sandin, 515
U.S. 472 (1995); Mendoza v. Blodgett, 960
F.2d 1425, 1430 (9th Cir. 1992), abrogated in part on other
grounds by Sandin, 515 U.S. 472; Toussaint,
801 F.2d at 1100, abrogated in part on other grounds by
Sandin, 515 U.S. 472. The Supreme Court has stated
that five days is a reasonable time for the post-placement
review. See Hewitt, 459 U.S. at 477. Before the
review, the prisoner must receive some notice of the charges
and be given an opportunity to respond to the charges.
See Id. at 476; Mendoza, 960 F.2d
at 1430-31; Toussaint, 801 F.2d at 1100. The
prisoner, however, is not entitled to "detailed written
notice of charges, representation of counsel or
counsel-substitute, an opportunity to present witnesses, or a
written decision describing the reasons for placing the
prisoner in administrative segregation."
Toussaint, 801 F.2d at 1100-01 (citations omitted).
After the prisoner has been placed in administrative
segregation, prison officials must periodically review the
initial placement. See Hewitt, 459 U.S. at 477
n.9; Toussaint, 801 F.2d at 1101. Annual review
of the placement is insufficient. See
Toussaint, 801 F.2d at 1101.
under [§] 1983 arises only upon a showing of personal
participation by the defendant. A supervisor is only liable
for the constitutional violations of...subordinates if the
supervisor participated in or directed the violations, or
knew of the violations and failed to act to prevent them.
There is no respondeat superior liability under
[§] 1983." Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040,
1045 (9th Cir. 1989) (citations omitted). Plaintiff must
demonstrate that each defendant, through his or her own
individual actions, violated Plaintiff's constitutional
rights. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676; Corales v.
Bennett, 567 F.3d 554, 570 (9th Cir. 2009).
Application to Plaintiff's Allegations
on Plaintiff's allegations, including the long length of
solitary confinement, the Court finds that Plaintiff's
detention was a "dramatic departure" from the
standard conditions of confinement, and therefore Plaintiff
had a liberty interest in avoiding his detention. Thus,
Plaintiff was entitled to due process.
Court finds that Plaintiff has stated a claim for violation
of due process regarding his solitary confinement. The Court
notes that, according to the law cited above, judicial review
of a prison's decision is narrow and deferential. It is
not clear on the face of the complaint whether the
prison's evidence, even as described by Plaintiff, would
be considered satisfactory based on this the lenient
standard. Nevertheless, taken as a whole, Plaintiff has
stated a case demonstrating little if any evidence of gang
membership, little or no meaningful review, little or no
opportunity to be heard. Given the ...