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Holland v. Palubicki

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 22, 2017

KENNETH E. HOLLAND, Plaintiff,
v.
E. PALUBICKI, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING IFP AND DISMISSING COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

          EDMUND F. BRENNAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in an action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

         I. Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Plaintiff's application makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1) and (2). Accordingly, by separate order, the court directs the agency having custody of plaintiff to collect and forward the appropriate monthly payments for the filing fee as set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) and (2).

         II. Screening Requirement and Standards

         Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint “is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, ” or “seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” Id. § 1915A(b).

         A pro se plaintiff, like other litigants, must satisfy the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8(a)(2) “requires a complaint to include a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 554, 562-563 (2007) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). While the complaint must comply with the “short and plaint statement” requirements of Rule 8, its allegations must also include the specificity required by Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).

         To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim a complaint must contain more than “naked assertions, ” “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-557. In other words, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Furthermore, a claim upon which the court can grant relief must have facial plausibility. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. When considering whether a complaint states a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must accept the allegations as true, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007), and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, see Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).

         III. Screening Order

         The court has reviewed plaintiff's complaint pursuant to § 1915A and finds that the allegations are too vague and conclusory to state a cognizable claim for relief. Plaintiff claims he was being held in a cage “due to safety concerns and fears . . . from threats . . . made by another inmate” earlier in the day.” ECF No. 1 at 6.[1] Defendant Palubicki allegedly “dragged” plaintiff from the cage and forced him back on the yard, even though, based on plaintiff's “reasonable assumption, ” defendant knew about plaintiff's safety concerns. Id. at 6-7. Out of fear for his safety, plaintiff returned to the Program Office for help. Id. at 7. Defendant then threatened to remove plaintiff by force if he did not leave the office. Id. Plaintiff felt he had no choice but to return to the yard. Id. According to the complaint, defendant's “unprofessional and abusively aggressive conduct has left [plaintiff] more fearful for [his] life.” Id. Plaintiff adds that defendant's “callous disregard for [his] concerns is unconstitutional, as [he has] a right to reasonable security.” Id. Plaintiff also claims that defendant's “use of force was unwarranted, as [plaintiff] posed no threat to his or his staff's safety and [ ] continued to remain passive as [defendant] physically violated [plaintiff's] right to be free from unnecessary use of force and restraint.” Id. Plaintiff seeks $20 million in damages. Id. at 3.

         Plaintiff does not identify any specific claims for relief in the complaint. Under the standards governing claims based on excessive force and failure to protect in violation of the Eighth Amendment, discussed below, the allegations fail to state a cognizable claim. To proceed, plaintiff must file an amended complaint.

         To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege: (1) the violation of a federal constitutional or statutory right; 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); Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002).

         An individual defendant is not liable on a civil rights claim unless the facts establish the defendant's personal involvement in the constitutional deprivation or a causal connection between the defendant's wrongful conduct and the alleged constitutional deprivation. See Hansen v. Black, 88 ...


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