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Gaddy v. Townsend

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 14, 2016

MICHAEL JOHN GADDY, Plaintiff,
v.
M. TOWNSEND, et al., Defendants.

          Michael John Gaddy, Plaintiff, Pro Se.

          ORDER OF SERVICE

          HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, Jr., District Judge.

         Plaintiff, a California prisoner incarcerated at California State Prison, Sacramento and proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging constitutional violations at Pelican Bay State Prison ("PBSP"), where he was previously incarcerated. Plaintiff is granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in a separate order. His complaint is now before the Court for review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         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. See 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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must, however, be liberally construed. See 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." "Specific 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, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (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, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer "enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 1974.

         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. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

         B. Legal Claims

         Plaintiff alleges that M. Townsend, an appeals coordinator at PBSP, and M. Voong and Officer Sandoval, both chief inmate appeals officers with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, retaliated against him in violation of his First Amendment rights when they wrongly cancelled or otherwise impermissibly interfered with the processing of his prison grievances. When liberally construed, these allegations state claims under Section 1983 and shall proceed.

         The potential liability of defendants is under the First Amendment, and is not under the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause. There is no constitutional right to a prison or jail administrative appeal or grievance system in California, and therefore no due process liability for failing to process or decide an inmate appeal properly. See Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 860 (9th Cir. 2003); Mann v. Adams, 855 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1988). If a defendant only denied an inmate appeal about a problem that already had occurred and was complete, there would be no liability for a constitutional violation; however, where the problem is ongoing and the request is made in an inmate appeal to remedy the ongoing problem, liability can be based on the denial of an inmate appeal, just as it could be based on the denial of a verbal request from the inmate. Cf. Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1098 (9th Cir. 2006) (supervisor may be liable for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need, for instance, if he or she fails to respond to a prisoner's request for help).

         CONCLUSION

         For the foregoing reasons, the Court orders as follows:

         1. The Clerk of the Court shall issue summons and the United States Marshal shall serve, without prepayment of fees, a copy of the complaint (Docket No. 1), and a copy of this order upon the following defendants: (1) M. Townsend at Pelican Bay State Prison; and (2) M. Voong ...


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