United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER DISMISSING PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE
TO AMEND (ECF NO. 1) THIRTY DAY DEADLINE
Toy Terrell Smith (“Plaintiff”) is proceeding
pro se and in forma pauperis with this
civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff claims that he did not receive adequate mental
health care, was forcibly removed from his cell in order to
transfer to another prison, and suffered an inmate attack
when staff left him exposed at a prison with known enemies.
filed the Complaint commencing this action on December 27,
2016, which is before this Court for screening. (ECF No. 1.) For
the reasons described below, the Court finds that Plaintiff
fails to state a claim for violation of his constitutional
rights. Plaintiff is given leave to amend his complaint if he
believes that additional facts would state a claim under the
legal principles described below.
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. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).
complaint is required to contain “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Detailed 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.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007)). While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as
true, courts “are not required to indulge unwarranted
inferences.” Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.,
572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks
and citation omitted). Plaintiff must set forth
“sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. While
factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions
are not. Id.
state a viable claim for relief, Plaintiff must set forth
sufficient factual allegations to state a plausible claim for
relief. Id. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret
Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The mere
possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this
plausibility standard. Id.
SUMMARY OF PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT
complaint provides a detailed chronology of Plaintiff failing
to receive the mental health treatment he requested.
Plaintiff had been the victim of a stabbing incident on
September 27, 2013. Following the incident, Plaintiff began
requesting elevated mental health care. On October 2, 2013,
he explained that he was suffering great mental stress and
could not think clearly or focus. Plaintiff explained to
mental health staff that Plaintiff believed he was being
retaliated against by staff, and was being specifically
targeted by prison officials. The stabbing incident was the
third incident that occurred against him. Plaintiff asked the
mental health staff to be placed somewhere he could sleep, be
left alone, and receive adequate mental health care
a one-on-one mental health counseling sessions in October,
2013, Plaintiff's mental health clinician, Dr. Lacy,
assured Plaintiff she would speak to mental health
authorities to see what could be done to get him additional
mental health assistance. She indicated she would request
that Plaintiff remain at New Folsom Prison until she had
received an adequate response.
on October 29, 2013, Plaintiff was told that he was being
transferred to Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP). Plaintiff
arrived at KVSP on October 30, 2013. On November 7, 2013,
Plaintiff received a phone call from a mental health
psychologist, Dr. Morgan, at New Folsom prison regarding a
health care appeal he had filed while there. Dr. Morgan
explained that she could not address the matter any longer
because he had been transferred, but would forward his
information to the assigned mental health clinician at the
November 13, 2013, Plaintiff was interviewed by his newly
assigned mental health clinician at KVSP, Dr. Barajas.
Plaintiff explained that he was extremely depressed and could
not deal with his current living situation, that he was being
retaliated against by prison staff, that he had recently been
stabbed, and that he needed placement into a mental health
treatment facility in order to gather himself and recuperate.
Plaintiff requested transfer to an institution that provided
mental health assistance so he could be left along and try to
regain focus, balance, and a sense of purpose.
Barajas said that he would recommend mental health placement
for Plaintiff's upcoming prison classification committee
hearing scheduled for November 19, 2013. At that hearing,
Plaintiff requested such a transfer, but the committee told
Plaintiff that they had not received any recommendation for
mental health transfer from Dr. Barajas. When Plaintiff
finally confronted Dr. Barajas, Dr. Barajas said “I
didn't have a chance to get to it.” Plaintiff then
asked for group therapy, anger management classes, or
whatever was available at KVSP. Dr. Barajas said “I
will put you on the waiting list for group therapy.”
However, Plaintiff later learned that there was no group
therapy or other mental health programs at KVSP.
then saw the second level appeal reviewer, B. Mason, who
offered to have Plaintiff see Dr. Barajas more frequently in
order to receive additional one-on-one counseling. Plaintiff
declined because he no longer trusted Dr. Barajas due to his
untruthfulness, unprofessionalism, and carelessness.
continued to seek transfer to a different institution for
mental health care. Plaintiff's request was denied by R.
M. Hutchinson, Chief Executive Officer of mental health
services. Mr. Hutchinson wrote in his denial, “The
professional judgment of the mental health staff working with
you indicates that you are at the appropriate level of mental
care.” Plaintiff unsuccessfully tried to appeal this
decision. In Plaintiff's appeals, Plaintiff indicated
that “A) it was improper, deceitful and unprofessional
for his assigned mental health clinician to be untruthful and
even go as far as to sign the plaintiff up for group
therapy/anger management classes that didn't even exist,
B) that he could not focus/function on a daily basis in his
living environment and needed serious help, and C) he was
placed in an institution that was well known for riots,
shootings, extensive lockdowns and various other unproductive
activity that was unconducive to Plaintiff's state of
continued suffering from feelings of hopelessness and despair
and contemplated suicide. Plaintiff was then framed by KVSP
administrative staff and, on May 1, 2014, approached by
prisoners in reaction to untruths spread by staff members. A
fight ensued. Plaintiff was shot by a riot gun. After prison
lockdown status was raised, Plaintiff was approached by
another prisoner, which triggered a full scale racial riot in
which inmates were beaten and stabbed. Plaintiff saw no
reason to avoid such altercations, as he had been doing prior
to being denied mental health assistance. Plaintiff indicated
on his 602 appeals that he felt like harming others in order
to be left alone, but would prefer to receive mental health
assistance and placement in a different facility.
August 4, 2014, Plaintiff was placed in KVSP's
administrative segregation unit and charged with battery on
an inmate. Mental staff told Plaintiff that he should have
talked to someone before having such an episode. Plaintiff
said that he had been trying to talk to someone for a long
time. It was determined by mental health staff that the
Plaintiff's mental disorder contributed to his behavior
and should be considered in any penalty.
in administrative segregation, Defendant R. M. Hutchinson
told Plaintiff that “somebody slipped up” and he
would be considered for Enhanced Outpatient Program at the
next interdisciplinary treatment team hearing.
on January 20, 2015, administrative staff told Plaintiff he
was being transferred to Corcoran State Prison, Security
Housing Unit (SHU). Plaintiff arrived there on January 23,
2015. At Corcoran, Plaintiff's mental health clinician,
Dr. Tepperman, informed Plaintiff that due to a recent court
order regarding Corcoran's SHU, Plaintiff would be faced
with many delays. Around September 2015, Plaintiff's
mental health clinician took a leave of absence. Plaintiff
went without a mental health clinician for approximately 6-8
weeks. A different mental health clinician, Dr. Lester,
arrived at Corcoran in November 2015, but she was not
properly trained or helpful.
January 12, 2016, Plaintiff was approached by his
correctional custody counselor, J. Torres, and told that his
SHU term would be over in approximately 60 days. Torres asked
which institution Plaintiff wished to be transferred to.
Plaintiff said he was not interested in any of the
institutions to choose from because he wanted an institution
that deals with inmates in need of mental health treatment.
January 12, 2016, a classification committee was held to
determine what to do with Plaintiff. Plaintiff gave Torres a
two page statement discussing Plaintiff's recent
mistreatments by prison staff. The statement concerned the
injustices that Plaintiff had suffered, including at KVSP.
The classification committee met without Plaintiff and
determined that Plaintiff should be transferred back to KVSP.
According to the chrono, it appears that Torres did not
provide the Committee with Plaintiff's written
statements, Torres recommended that Plaintiff be transferred
to KVSP, Torres said falsely that KVSP was Plaintiff's
preferred institution, and also indicated falsely that KVSP
was near Plaintiff's family. Plaintiff filed a grievance
challenging his transfer. Plaintiff met with M. Hoggard