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Cisneros v. Vangilder

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 8, 2016

DANIEL CISNEROS, Plaintiff,
v.
J. VANGILDER, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER OF SERVICE

          DONNA M. RYU JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, a state prisoner currently incarcerated at California State Prison - Sacramento, has filed a pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 stemming from alleged constitutional violations that occurred while he was incarcerated at Pelican Bay State Prison ("PBSP").

         Plaintiff has consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction, and this matter has been assigned to the undersigned Magistrate Judge. Dkt. 1 at 4.

         Plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Dkt. 4. His previously-filed request for appointment of counsel has also been denied. Id.

         Venue is proper because the events giving rise to the claims are alleged to have occurred at PBSP, which is located in this judicial district. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

         In his complaint, Plaintiff states the following claims: (1) excessive force stemming from a June 4, 2015 incident; (2) deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs based on a denial of medical attention following the June 4, 2015 incident; and (3) state law claims for negligence. Plaintiff names the following Defendants, who are prison officials at PBSP: Correctional Officers J. Vangilder and J. Vasquez; Lieutenants S. Cupp and K. Ohland; Sergeant J. Cuske; and Captain D. Melton. Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief and monetary damages.

         II. DISCUSSION

         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).

         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).

         B. Excessive Force and Deliberate Indifference to Serious Medical Needs

         Plaintiff alleges that on June 4, 2015, he was the victim of excessive force and that he was subsequently denied medical care. Dkt. 1 at 8-15.[1]

         The treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment. Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993). "After incarceration, only the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain . . . constitutes cruel and unusual punishment forbidden by the Eighth Amendment." Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986) (ellipsis in original) (internal quotation and citation omitted). With respect to excessive force, the core judicial inquiry is whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and sadistically to cause harm. Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6-7 (1992). But not every malevolent touch by a prison guard gives rise to a federal cause of action. Id. at 9. The Eighth Amendment's prohibition of ...


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