United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER REQUIRING PLAINTIFF TO EITHER FILE AMENDED
COMPLAINT OR NOTIFY COURT OF WILLINGNESS TO PROCEED ONLY ON
EXCESSIVE FORCE CLAIMS AGAINST OFFICERS CAMPBELL AND MILLER
(DOCS. 1, 9)
K. OBERTO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Christopher Wilson, is a prisoner in the custody of the
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
(“CDCR”). Plaintiff is proceeding pro se
and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
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,
malicious, 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);
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). If an action is
dismissed on one of these three bases, a strike is imposed
per 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). An inmate who has had three or
more prior actions or appeals dismissed as frivolous,
malicious, or for failure to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted, and has not alleged imminent danger of
serious physical injury does not qualify to proceed in
forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g);
Richey v. Dahne, 807 F.3d 1201, 1208 (9th Cir.
1983 “provides a cause of action for the deprivation of
any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution and laws of the United States.” Wilder
v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990)
(quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Section 1983 is not itself a
source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method
for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere.
Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989).
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two
essential elements: (1) the violation of a right secured by
the Constitution or laws of the United States, and (2) 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); Ketchum v. Alameda Cnty., 811 F.2d 1243,
1245 (9th Cir. 1987).
Summary of the Complaint
complains of events that occurred while he was housed at
Wasco State Prison (“WSP”). Plaintiff names
Correctional Officers T. Campbell and Michelle Miller,
Sergeant M. Dhout, Lieutenant C. Villanueva, and LVN Jones as
defendants in this action. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages
and declaratory relief.
alleges that on July 26, 2014, while held in the reception
center at WSP, he was denied a religious meal. (Doc. 1, pp.
4-6.) He repeatedly attempted to speak with a sergeant; when
he was ignored, he admittedly got upset and yelled
“Fuck you bitch!” (Id.) Another inmate
echoed his outburst and C/O Campbell waived his hand
“as though he would take care of Plaintiff
later.” (Id.) C/O Campbell came to
Plaintiff's cell, yelling for his cellmate to step out of
the cell so Plaintiff could be escorted to speak with the
sergeant. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that, while he was
in restraints and trying to exit the cell, C/O Campbell
grabbed him in a choke-hold, leaving him unable to breathe.
(Id.) C/O Campbell asked C/O Miller if she saw
Plaintiff push him. (Id.) C/O Campbell then slammed
Plaintiff to the concrete pavement and placed his knees on
Plaintiff's back while smashing Plaintiff's face into
the concrete. (Id.) C/O Miller assisted C/O Campbell
hold Plaintiff down while C/O Campbell punched Plaintiff in
the face and body while C/O Miller punched his legs and back.
(Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he neither resisted,
nor struggled with them during this incident. (Id.)
alleges that LVN Jones failed to record his numerous injuries
(id., pp. 8-9) and that though he reported his
condition to prison officials Sgt Dhot and Lt. Villanueva,
they did not “exercise supervisory responsibility and
prevent defendants from repeatedly striking Plaintiff”
(id., pp. 7, 9-10). Plaintiff alleges that these
actions subjected him to excessive force and amounted to
deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs.
discussed in greater detail below, Plaintiff's
allegations state a cognizable claim for excessive force in
violation of the Eighth Amendment against C/Os Campbell and
Miller. However, Plaintiff fails to state a cognizable claim
against any of the other defendants. Plaintiff is thus given
the choice of proceeding on the excessive force claim against
C/Os Campbell and Miller, or filing a first amended
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)
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. Pro. 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. Pro. 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.
of Rule 8, at both ends of the spectrum, warrant dismissal. A
violation occurs when a pleading says too little -- the
baseline threshold of factual and legal allegations required
was the central issue in the Iqbal line of cases.
See, e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129
S.Ct. 1937 (2009). The Rule is also violated, though, when a
pleading says too much. Cafasso, U.S. ex rel. v.
Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1058 (9th
Cir.2011) (“[W]e have never held -- and we know of no
authority supporting the proposition -- that a pleading may
be of unlimited length and opacity. Our cases instruct
otherwise.”) (citing cases); see also McHenry v.
Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1179-80 (9th Cir.1996) (affirming a
dismissal under Rule 8, and recognizing that “[p]rolix,
confusing complaints such as the ones plaintiffs filed in
this case impose unfair burdens on litigants and
factual allegations are not required, but
''[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.'' ''shcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009), quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Plaintiff must set
forth ''sufficient factual matter, accepted as true,
to 'state a claim that is plausible on its
face.''' Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Factual allegations are
accepted as true, ...