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Walker v. King

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 13, 2017

ROGER WALKER, Plaintiff,
v.
AUDREY KING, et al, Defendants.

         ORDER FINDING COGNIZABLE CLAIMS ORDER FOR PLAINTIFF TO EITHER: (1) NOTIFY THE COURT THAT HE IS WILLING TO PROCEED ONLY ON THE CLAIM FOR FAILURE TO PROTECT IN VIOLATION OF THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT AGAINST DEFENDANTS SALOUM, POOLE, PERRYMAN, DAVIS, AND NICKS; (2) FILE A SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT; OR (3) NOTIFY THE COURT THAT HE WISHES TO STAND ON HIS COMPLAINT, SUBJECT TO THIS COURT ISSUING FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO A DISTRICT JUDGE CONSISTENT WITH THIS ORDER (ECF NO. 11)

         I. BACKGROUND

         Roger Walker (“Plaintiff”) is a civil detainee proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed the complaint commencing this action on November 3, 2016. (ECF No. 1). The Court struck the complaint for lack of a signature and gave Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint. (ECF No. 8). Plaintiff filed a first amended complaint on February 6, 2017, (ECF No. 11), which is before this Court for screening.

         II. LEGAL STANDARDS FOR SCREENING

         When a party seeks permission to pursue a civil case in forma papueris, courts will screen the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). In particular, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) provides that courts shall dismiss a case at any time if it determines that, inter alia, it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. A central function of this screening process is to “discourage the filing of, and waste of judicial and private resources upon, baseless lawsuits that paying litigants generally do not initiate because of the cost of bringing suit.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989).

         A 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)). Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id. at 679. 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). Additionally, a plaintiff's legal conclusions are not accepted as true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Pleadings of pro se plaintiffs “must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (holding that pro se complaints should continue to be liberally construed after Iqbal).

         III. ALLEGATIONS IN PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff is a civil detainee pursuant to Welfare & Institutions Code § 6604, detained by the California Department of State Hospitals for care and treatment of an alleged mental disorder.

         In the latter part of 2014, a physically violent and emotionally unstable patient, Ryan Wilkerson, was housed with Plaintiff in a four man dormitory. Defendants knew of Wilkerson's past violent behavior as Wilkerson had been in numerous physical altercations and was transferred from unit to unit in an attempt to control him. Plaintiff made multiple requests that he or Wilkerson be moved, starting shortly after Wilkerson arrived in the dorm. Plaintiff made these requests to: his Unit Psychologist, Dr. Willow Saloum; his Unit Supervisors, Leonard Tim Poole, Samantha Perryman, and George M. Davis; and his treatment team.

         On February 5, 2015, Wilkerson physically assaulted Plaintiff, causing serious injury to Plaintiff's right eye.

         Even after the assault, Defendants, including Davis (who replaced Defendant Perryman as acting Unit Supervisor) and Saloum, forced Plaintiff to remain housed with Wilkerson.

         Plaintiff was later transferred from Residential Housing Unit 19 to Intermediate Care Facility 8 after filing multiple complaints about being housed with Wilkerson. Plaintiff alleges that the transfer was adverse and in retaliation for filing complaints.

         Plaintiff names as defendants seven individuals at Coalinga State Hospital who were involved in a direct or supervisory way in the transfer and housing of patients.

         IV. PLAINTIFF'S CLAIM FOR A FAILURE TO PROTECT

         a. Legal Standards

         The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party ...

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