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Matthews v. Holland

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 22, 2017

KIM HOLLAND, Defendant.




         Plaintiff, Ivan Lee Matthews, is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court screened Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and found that it stated a claim for damages under the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution against Defendant Holland, the warden at California Correctional Institution (“CCI”). (Doc. 12.) On December 29, 2015, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss (Doc. 15), which was granted with leave to amend, (Doc. 20). Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) on July 1, 2016. (Doc. 21.) Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the FAC. (Doc. 22.) Plaintiff filed his opposition (Doc. 24) to which Defendant replied (Doc. 25). The motion is deemed submitted. L.R. 230(l). For the reasons discussed herein, Defendant's motion is DENIED.


         Dismissal is proper under Rule 12(b)(6) if there is a lack of a cognizable legal theory, or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory. Conservation Force v. Salazar, 646 F.3d 1240, 1241-42 (9th Cir. 2011), cert. denied, 132 S.Ct. 1762 (2012). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations, accepted as true, to state a claim that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)); Conservation Force, 646 F.3d at 1242; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The Court must accept well-pled factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Daniels-Hall v. National Educ. Ass'n, 629 F.3d 992, 998 (9th Cir. 2010); Sanders v. Brown, 504 F.3d 903, 910 (9th Cir. 2007); Huynh v. Chase Manhattan Bank, 465 F.3d 992, 1003-04 (9th Cir. 2006); Morales v. City of Los Angeles, 214 F.3d 1151, 1153 (9th Cir. 2000). Pleadings of prisoners proceeding pro se are liberally construed and any doubt is resolved in the inmate's favor. Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012); Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012); Silva v. Di Vittorio, 658 F.3d 1090, 1101 (9th Cir. 2011); Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010).


         A. The First Amended Complaint

         The events alleged in Plaintiff's complaint occurred from May 30, 2014, to July 8, 2015, while he was incarcerated at the California Correctional Institute (“CCI”) in the administrative segregation unit (“ASU”), awaiting transfer to the general population (“GP”). (Doc. 21, ¶¶ 8, 24.) Plaintiff alleges that on May 30, 2014, Defendant Warden Kim Holland, implemented a new policy called “the guard one safety/security checks” (“Guard One Policy”). (Id., ¶10.) Under the Guard One Policy, every “5, 10, 15, 20 minutes - 24-hours a day, ” correctional officers used a metal bar to loudly bang and hit another metal object on inmates' cell doors which let out a “loud beep or whistle.” (Id., ¶9.) Plaintiff alleges that the noise was excessive, extremely loud and violated his rights under the Eight Amendment. (Id., ¶10.)

         Plaintiff asked the correctional officers why they were doing that and informed them they were causing him pain and depriving him of sleep. (Id., ¶11.) The officers responded that they were aware and wanted the inmates “to 602-appeal it” so that it would stop because they did not like it either, but that it was not going to stop until an inmate appealed and stopped it. (Id., ¶¶11- 13.) When Plaintiff asked who ordered it, different correctional officers responded it had been ordered by Warden Holland, “mental health, ” and Sacramento. (Id.) Mental health psych-techs were also “required to beep” when they did their rounds and they responded to Plaintiff's inquiry that Warden Holland had ordered it. (Id., ¶14.)

         A couple days after the Guard One Policy was implemented, the nurse brought Plaintiff pain medication that had been previously prescribed for him after a surgery on his neck. (Id., ¶15.) Plaintiff told the nurse that the Guard One Policy was causing him “severe-pain, lack of sleep, psychological-pain/suffering.” (Id.) The nurse responded that she could prescribe sleeping pills for him, but Plaintiff would not be able to continue taking his current pain medication because of potential, serious side effects. (Id.) Plaintiff chose to remain on his pain medication. (Id., ¶15.)

         On June 8, 2014, Plaintiff wrote a “cdcr-inmate-22-request for interview form” to Warden Holland informing her that correctional officers were causing excessively loud noise for which there was no need, thereby depriving him of reasonable sleep; however, she failed to take measures to stop it. (Id., ¶16.) That same day, Plaintiff also sent a “cdcr-inmate-22-request for interview form” to the ombudsman in Sacramento in which he requested information regarding the Guard One Policy and a copy of the policy. (Id., ¶17.) Plaintiff met with a representative of the ombudsman's office on June 25, 2014, and was told that the Guard One Policy is only required to be used for the first twenty-one days that an inmate is in ASU, that Sacramento ordered it, and that the policy only requires correctional officers to run beep checks once every thirty minutes. (Id., ¶18.) Plaintiff alleges that all three of the above requirements were “being violated and arbitrarily misused” by Warden Holland and correctional officers which amounted to a violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment. (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges that Warden Holland deprived him of an environment reasonably free from excessive noise, failed to stop the Guard One Policy on inmates who were not in ASU for disciplinary reasons, and failed to stop correctional officers from doing the banging/beeping checks on his “cell-door-every-5-10-15-20-minutes-24-hours-a-day and night.” (Id., ¶19.) Plaintiff alleges this subjected him to “extreme, excessive-loud-noise, when there was no need for it.” (Id.) Plaintiff further alleges that Warden Holland is responsible for the officer's actions of loudly banging on his cell door, failed to respond to his request for an interview, and “illegally formulated” the Guard One Policy “on inmates” such as Plaintiff who are in ASU more than twenty-one days and are not suicidal. (Id., ¶¶ 20-22.)

         On June 16, 2014, Plaintiff filed a “602 appeal” complaining about the Guard One Policy; he was interviewed by Sergeant Ybarra on July 15, 2014. (Id., ¶23.) Sgt. Ybarra told Plaintiff they had investigated the matter and found that officers were not banging or hitting on the cell doors, it was being properly implemented and the mechanisms used did not emit excessively loud beeps. (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges that the Guard One Policy continued to be implemented and caused “extreme and excessive-loud-noise . . . every night, often all night, interrupting and preventing [him] from sleeping, when there was no need for the excessive-loud-noise.” (Id., ¶27.) The Guard One Policy, and the way it was implemented, allegedly caused a violation of Plaintiff's “clearly established constitutional rights” and resulted “in amongst other things-(psychological-pain/treatment, nervousness, sleep-deprivations, unable to take sleeping-pills, anxiety, and an environment-not-free of excess-loud-noise.)” (Id., ¶33.)

         B. Plaintiff States a Claim for Violation of His Eighth Amendment Rights

         Defendant contends that Plaintiff does not state a claim for violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. (Doc. 22, pp. 5-7.) Defendant state that Plaintiff fails to show that Defendant caused Plaintiff to suffer injury (id. at 5:5-6:13), and that Plaintiff suffered no constitutional ...

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