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Timberland v. Mascarenas

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 15, 2017

RONALD TIMBERLAND, Plaintiff,
v.
G. MASCARENAS, et al., Defendants.

          SCREENING ORDER ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF No. 1.) ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL THIRTY-DAY DEADLINE TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT

          Gary S. Austin UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. BACKGROUND

         Ronald Timberland (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. Plaintiff filed the Complaint commencing this action on June 27, 2016. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff has consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction in this action. (ECF No. 5.) Plaintiff's Complaint is now before the court for screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         II. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

         The 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).

         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)). 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). To state a viable claim, 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 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id.

         III. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison (CSP) in Corcoran, California, where the events at issue allegedly occurred. Plaintiff names as defendants G. Mascarenas (Correctional Counselor I (CCI)), D. Patterson (CCI), J. Pierce (Institutional Gang Investigation (IGI) Officer), M. Cuevas (Sergeant), A. Maxfield (CCII), and M. Sexton (Chief Deputy Warden) (collectively “Defendants”), who were all employed at CSP at the time of the events at issue. Plaintiff's factual allegations follow.

         On April 1, 2015, Plaintiff arrived at CSP to complete a determinate SHU[1] term of 48 months after being found guilty of a Rules Violation for conspiracy to murder a peace officer.

         On May 1, 2015, in the morning, an unknown female staff member appeared at Plaintiff's cell door and started talking to him. Plaintiff could not hear what she was saying because of the noise of the big fans in the dayroom. Plaintiff thought she might be a psych tech making her daily rounds. Plaintiff yelled to her, “Hey, it's okay, I don't want to hurt myself or anyone else, you can go now.” ECF No. 1 at 6 ¶13. This was the standard answer they want to hear. The woman looked at Plaintiff, obviously irate, said “Oh, yeah? We'll see about that, a**hole, ” and walked away. Id. Plaintiff does not know who she was but wonders if she was his assigned counselor, G. Mascarenas, who he has not met or seen since.

         On May 5, 2015, Plaintiff's initial Institutional Classification Committee (ICC) hearing was held “in absentia, ” as Plaintiff had no prior notice or opportunity to attend in person. All of the Defendants attended the hearing, according to the Classification Committee Chrono dated April 29, 2015. Defendant Mascarenas was Plaintiff's assigned counselor during the meeting; Defendant Patterson was Plaintiff's assigned staff assistant during the meeting; Defendants Pierce and Cuevas were additional committee members present at the hearing; Defendant Maxfield was the recorder of the meeting; and defendant Sexton was the chairperson of the meeting.

         On May 11, 2015, Officer Tabarez [not a defendant] slid an envelope under Plaintiff's cell door and said, “I think one of the counselors gave this to the guy in cell #10 last week sometime. At least he gave it back.” ECF No. 1 at 7 ¶15. Plaintiff opened the envelope and read the document inside, realizing that it was a Classification Committee Chrono dated April 29, 2015. The document referred to an initial ICC hearing held on May 5, 2015, and contained personal information about Plaintiff's history.

         The document contained many fraudulent statements that had apparently been entered into Plaintiff's case file. Because of the date of the document, Plaintiff thought it may have been generated before the May 5 hearing. Plaintiff realized that if the lies on the document about him were read by other inmates, especially by validated gang members or associates, Plaintiff would be at great risk of death. The document referred to Plaintiff's prior SNY (Sensitive Needs Yard) status, which the general population (GP) inmates refer to as PC's (Protective Custody). The SNY inmates are known to be child molesters, rapists, and snitches, all of whom are targeted for death.

         Beginning on May 14, 2015, Plaintiff has been under a constant and escalating barrage of verbal and written threats of death by both GP and SNY inmates of all races. Plaintiff has been spit on, speared by a homemade arrow, and suffered many attempts by other inmates to gas him (feces and urine mixed together and thrown at him). These threats have caused Plaintiff to refuse yard time and showers. Plaintiff knows this will not change for the remainder of his sentence, until 2044, and he expects to have to serve the remainder of his sentence housed in segregation. There will also be a threat if Plaintiff takes a cell mate, as this would definitely be a kill-or-be-killed situation. Plaintiff is deeply depressed, paranoid, exhausted, and stressed. He suffers from physical and mental anguish, thinks about taking his life, has lost his appetite, lost and gained weight, damaged his ligaments and tendons, had seizures, and suffers from stiffness in his back. Plaintiff takes various prescribed medications for pain and mental stress, which cause unwanted side effects. Plaintiff has related his feelings to administrative, custody, and mental health staff several times.

         Plaintiff believes that Defendants' disregard of his safety has caused him to be targeted for death. Plaintiff alleges that his counselor, defendant G. Mascarenas, filed fraudulent statements about Plaintiff during the May 5, 2015, hearing which Plaintiff was not allowed to attend. Plaintiff also alleges that defendant Mascarenas gave Plaintiff's paperwork to another inmate, instructing this inmate to pass it around, knowing that the labelling of Plaintiff as a snitch caused Plaintiff to be under risk of serious harm.

         Plaintiff alleges that defendant D. Patterson allowed the fraudulent information to be entered into the record without verifying the information. Plaintiff also alleges that defendant Patterson failed to notify him of the date of the hearing and his rights to attend the hearing.

         Plaintiff alleges that defendants J. Pierce, M. Cuevas, A. Maxfield, and M. Sexton failed to check the veracity of fraudulent information presented during the May 5, 2015, hearing and allowed it to be entered into Plaintiff's central file as fact.

         Plaintiff requests monetary, declaratory, and injunctive relief. Plaintiff also requests appointment of counsel.

         IV. ...


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