United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
NATHANAEL M. COUSINS United States Magistrate Judge
a California prisoner proceeding pro se, has filed
an amended civil rights complaint, pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. For the reasons that follow, the court
dismisses the amended complaint.
Standard of Review
federal court must engage in a preliminary screening of any
case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental
entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review the court must identify
any cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims which 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),
(2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed.
See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901
F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege two elements: (1) that a right secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States was violated and
(2) that the violation was committed by a person acting under
the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S.
42, 48 (1988).
original complaint, Plaintiff claimed that on October 21,
2015, at Maguire Correctional Facility in San Mateo,
Plaintiff was housed in a unit with two other groups of
inmates who had a history of violence between them. While
Plaintiff was out during recreation time with one group of
inmates, an unnamed staff member unlocked all the doors in
the housing unit, allowing the other group of inmates to run
out and attack those who were already out at recreation time.
Plaintiff argues that although he defended himself, he and
others were overpowered. He alleges that his safety and
security were ignored by the Maguire Correctional Facility,
and that the facility did not take proper precautions to
avoid the attack.
Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint with leave to
amend. It informed Plaintiff that in order to state a
cognizable claim that Defendant was deliberately indifferent
to Plaintiff's safety, Plaintiff must provide facts
sufficient to infer that Defendant knew of and disregarded an
excessive risk to inmate health or safety by failing to take
reasonable steps to abate it. See Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). The Court found that, liberally
construed, at best, Plaintiff's facts suggested that
Defendant acted with negligence, but not with deliberate
indifference. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835-36 &
n.4 (recognizing that neither negligence nor gross negligence
will constitute deliberate indifference). In addition, the
Court informed Plaintiff that Defendant Maguire Correctional
Facility was a municipal entity. As such, to impose municipal
liability under Section 1983 for a violation of
constitutional rights resulting from governmental inaction or
omission, a plaintiff must show: (1) that the plaintiff
possessed a constitutional right of which he or she was
deprived; (2) that the municipality had a policy; (3) that
this policy amounts to deliberate indifference to the
plaintiff's constitutional rights; and (4) that the
policy was the moving force behind the constitutional
violation. See Plumeau v. School Dist. #40 County of
Yamhill, 130 F.3d 432, 438 (9th Cir. 1997). Plaintiff
had not alleged any facts to show that Defendant's action
or inaction was a result of any policy. The Court directed
Plaintiff to file an amended complaint if he could correct
amended complaint, Plaintiff named as Defendants Maguire
Correctional Facility, San Mateo County, and San Mateo
County's Sheriff's Department. Plaintiff alleged that
prison officials allowed a civilian contractor to train the
staff on operation of “the new door system.”
During the training, “facility staff failed to adhere
to the segregation protocol . . . and ran an unsecured
training while a group was out and the training contractor
unlocked all the doors in the unit.” Am. Compl. at 3.
This resulted in the two groups engaging in physical
Court previously informed Plaintiff, a prisoner may state a
Section 1983 claim under the Eighth Amendment against prison
officials only where the officials acted with
“deliberate indifference” to the threat of
serious harm or injury to an inmate by another prisoner.
See Berg v. Kincheloe, 794 F.2d 457, 459 (9th Cir.
1986). Here, again, liberally construed, Plaintiff's
facts show that the opening of the door by an unnamed person
was a mistake, which is insufficient to make a claim of
deliberate indifference. In addition, all Defendants are a
part of San Mateo County, which is a municipality. Despite
having been informed of the factors needed to plead a
cognizable claim for municipal liability, Plaintiff has not
set forth any facts suggesting that San Mateo County had a
relevant policy, much less a policy that amounted to
deliberate indifference, or a policy that was the moving
force behind the constitutional violation. In fact,
Plaintiff's allegations demonstrate that there was a
“segregation protocol” or policy in place, but
unnamed staff members failed to abide by it. Case law is
clear that random acts or isolated incidents of
unconstitutional action by a non-policymaking employee are
insufficient to establish the existence of a municipal policy
or custom. See Rivera v. County of Los
Angeles, 745 F.3d 384, 398 (9th Cir. 2014).
Plaintiff has not stated a cognizable claim for relief
against Defendants. The amended complaint is DISMISSED.
Because the Court has previously warned Plaintiff about the
deficiencies of his original complaint, and Plaintiff has not
cured either deficiency in his amended complaint, the Court
finds that further leave to amend would be futile.
amended complaint is DISMISSED for failure to state a claim.
The Clerk shall ...