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Norbert v. San Francisco Sheriff's Department Staff

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 7, 2016

KENYON M. NORBERT, JR., Plaintiff,


          Donna M. Ryu United States Magistrate Judge


         Plaintiff, who is currently in custody at the San Francisco County Jail #5 on 1 Moreland Drive, San Bruno, California ("SFCJ #5"), has filed a pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that jail officials violated his constitutional rights by being deliberately indifferent to his safety needs and by denying him "3 hrs. a week [of] recreation." Dkt. 1 at 6.[1]

         Plaintiff has consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction. Id. at 5. Therefore, this matter has been assigned to the undersigned Magistrate Judge.

         In his complaint, Plaintiff does not name any individual Defendants. Dkt. 1 at 2-3. Instead, he names the "San Francisco Sheriff's Department staff" because he claims he "cannot name all classification dep./deputies responsible for placing [him] with inmates that were prone to attack." Id. at 3. Plaintiff adds that "every day their [sic] is a different deputy at each post." Id. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages. Id.

         His motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted in a separate written Order.

         Venue is proper because certain events giving rise to the claims are alleged to have occurred at SFJC #5 and SFCJ #4 (850 Bryant Street in San Francisco, California), which are both located in this judicial district. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).


         A. Standard of Review

         A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks 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 that 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. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).

         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." To comport with Rule 8, "[s]pecific 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, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (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 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 complaint's framework, 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 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).

         A supervisor may be liable under section 1983 upon a showing of personal involvement in the constitutional deprivation or a sufficient causal connection between the supervisor's wrongful conduct and the constitutional violation. Redman v. County of San Diego, 942 F.2d 1435, 1446 (9th Cir. 1991) (en banc) (citation omitted). A supervisor therefore generally "is only liable for constitutional violations of his subordinates if the supervisor participated in or directed the violations, or knew of the violations and failed to act to prevent them." Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). This includes evidence that a supervisor implemented "a policy so deficient that the policy itself is a repudiation of constitutional rights and is the moving force of the constitutional violation." Redman, 942 F.2d at 1446; see Jeffers v. Gomez, 267 F.3d 895, 917 (9th Cir. 2001).

         B. Legal Claims

         1. Deliberate Indifference to Safety Needs

         Plaintiff alleges that on an unspecified date prior to November 27, 2015, the date he signed his complaint, certain unnamed deputies transferred him from SFCJ #5 to SFCJ #4 for a court appearance. Dkt. 1 at 6. Plaintiff, who is an African American and claims to be a "documented gang member, " alleges that on the seventh floor of SFCJ #4, deputies "no longer separate African American gangs as they still separate Mexican gangs." Id. Plaintiff claims that SFCJ #4 and SFCJ #5 deputies "were allowed to p[i]t African American ...

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