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Bowlin v. Yuba County Sheriff

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 24, 2017

LEONARD WAYNE BOWLIN, Plaintiff,
v.
YUBA COUNTY SHERIFF, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Kendall J. Newman, Judge

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner, proceeding pro se. Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and has requested leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. This proceeding was referred to this court by Local Rule 302 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Plaintiff consented to proceed before the undersigned for all purposes. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

         Plaintiff submitted a declaration that makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Accordingly, the request to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted.

         Plaintiff is required to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for this action. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a), 1915(b)(1). By this order, plaintiff will be assessed an initial partial filing fee in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). By separate order, the court will direct the appropriate agency to collect the initial partial filing fee from plaintiff's trust account and forward it to the Clerk of the Court. Thereafter, plaintiff will be obligated to make monthly payments of twenty percent of the preceding month's income credited to plaintiff's trust account.

         These payments will be forwarded by the appropriate agency to the Clerk of the Court each time the amount in plaintiff's account exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee is paid in full. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

         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).

         A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). The court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous when it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis. See Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989), superseded by statute as stated in Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130-31 (9th Cir. 2000) (“[A] judge may dismiss [in forma pauperis] claims which are based on indisputably meritless legal theories or whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.”); Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.

         Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “requires only ‘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 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). In order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, a complaint must contain more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action;” it must contain factual allegations sufficient “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. at 555. However, “[s]pecific facts are not necessary; the statement [of facts] need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555, citations and internal quotations marks omitted).

         In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93, and construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overruled on other grounds, Davis v. Scherer, 468 U.S. 183 (1984). Plaintiff's Complaint Plaintiff alleges that “all of the named defendants” . . . “allowed the conditions of confinement to transgress the substantive limits of the concept of human dignity by allowing the plaintiff to consume toxic water that gave him Hepatitis.” (ECF No. 1 at 3.) Plaintiff claims that the correctional officers at the Yuba County Jail were improperly trained because they denied inmates proper exercise by coming in at 4:00 a.m. and asking if the inmates wanted yard, depriving them of proper sleep and exercise. In addition, plaintiff states he made several requests to be treated because he felt ill and had severe yellow jaundice, but the correctional officers would not let plaintiff go to medical. Plaintiff names as defendants the Sheriff of Yuba County, the Yuba County Jail Commander, the Municipal Yuba County Jail, and all employees at the Yuba County Jail.

         Discussion

         For the following reasons, the court finds the allegations in plaintiff's complaint so vague and conclusory that the court is unable to determine whether the current action is frivolous or fails to state a claim for relief.

         First, plaintiff fails to name proper defendants. Plaintiff cannot simply name “all employees at the Yuba County Jail” or “all correctional officers” as defendants. Rather, plaintiff must specifically identify the individual who allegedly violated his constitutional rights so that the court may order service of process by the U.S. States Marshal. Without providing a name, the Marshal is unable to serve the defendant.

         Second, plaintiff fails to identify what each defendant did or did not do that allegedly violated plaintiff's constitutional rights. Plaintiff does not allege whether he was a pretrial detainee or a state inmate in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) during his housing at the jail. Plaintiff does not provide dates for either the alleged constitutional violations or for his jail housing. Plaintiff does not allege how long the alleged violations took place. However, the CDCR inmate locator reflects that plaintiff was admitted to state custody on September 20, 2005; thus, if plaintiff was housed at the Yuba County Jail sometime after 2005, he was in state custody, and the Eighth Amendment would govern his exercise and medical claims.

         Eighth ...


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