United States District Court, E.D. California
DEBORAH BARNES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a civil rights
action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges
defendants subjected him to excessive force and involuntarily
medicated him. Before the court are plaintiff's motion to
proceed in forma pauperis and plaintiff's complaint for
screening. For the reasons set forth below, the court will
grant plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis,
finds plaintiff has stated cognizable claims against some
defendants, and will give plaintiff leave to amend his
has 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.
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
for monthly payments of twenty percent of the preceding
month's income credited to plaintiff's prison 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).
court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or
employee of a governmental entity. See 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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) & (2).
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 where 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 Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.
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)). However, 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.” Bell Atlantic,
550 U.S. at 555. In reviewing a complaint under this
standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of
the complaint in question, Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Rex
Hospital Trustees, 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976), construe
the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff,
and resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor.
Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969).
Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides
Every person who, under color of [state law] . . . subjects,
or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States .
. . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or
immunities secured by the Constitution . . . shall be liable
to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or
other proper proceeding for redress.
42 U.S.C. § 1983. The statute requires that there be an
actual connection or link between the actions of the
defendants and the deprivation alleged to have been suffered
by plaintiff. See Monell v. Dept. of Social Servs.,
436 U.S. 658 (1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362
(1976). “A person ‘subjects' another to the
deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of
§ 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in
another's affirmative acts or omits to perform an act
which he is legally required to do that causes the
deprivation of which complaint is made.” Johnson v.
Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978).
supervisory personnel are generally not liable under §
1983 for the actions of their employees under a theory of
respondeat superior and, therefore, when a named defendant
holds a supervisorial position, the causal link between him
and the claimed constitutional violation must be specifically
alleged. See Fayle v. Stapley, 607 F.2d 858, 862
(9th Cir. 1979); Mosher v. Saalfeld, 589 F.2d 438,
441 (9th Cir. 1978). Vague and conclusory allegations
concerning the involvement of official personnel in civil
rights violations are not sufficient. See Ivey v. Board
of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).
Allegations of the Complaint
states that on November 17, 2015, he was housed at the
Department of State Hospitals - Stockton
(“DSH”). Plaintiff identifies the following
defendants: (1) R. Cunningham, Unit Supervisor; (2) McCarthy,
Psychiatric Technician; (3) 19 unnamed additional male
Psychiatric Technicians; (4) Ward, Correctional Officer; (5)
Ramos, Correctional Sergeant; (6) Dr. Harris, Psychologist;
(7) E. Palmer, Senior Psychiatric Technician; (8) J. Celaya,
Senior Psychiatric Technician; and (9) Osuj, R.N. All
defendants appear to be employees of DSH. (Compl. (ECF No. 1)
date, plaintiff had a verbal altercation with a psychiatric
technician (“Psych Tech”) regarding the handling
of the food trays. The psychiatric technician informed
plaintiff's treatment team about plaintiff's
“angry tone.” As a result, plaintiff lost some
privileges. Plaintiff protested the loss of privileges by
“yelling obscenities toward the staff through the crack
of his cell-door for about a half hour, admittedly
upset.” (Id. at 5.)
plaintiff had calmed down, “twenty (plus) male
Psych-Techs had gathered in front of [plaintiff's] cell
door in order to administer a medicated shot that had been
ordered by psychiatrist Dr. Harris.” Defendant Ward
approached plaintiff's cell and explained that a shot had
been ordered for plaintiff. Plaintiff objected, telling Ward
he was not under a Keyhea order for involuntary
medication. Ward then told plaintiff he would check
with his sergeant, defendant Ramos, about what to do.
Ramos approached plaintiff's cell door and asked
plaintiff if he was under a Keyhea order. Plaintiff
responded that he was not. Ramos left to “check on
it.” Plaintiff states that Ramos and Ward did not
return to plaintiff's cell, but waited a few cell-doors
down in the hallway.
Cunningham then came to the cell door and told plaintiff to
stand back. Plaintiff repeated that he was not under a
Keyhea order. Cunningham told plaintiff to
“stand down, ” unlocked the door, and opened it.
Plaintiff states that defendant McCarthy stood at the
entrance to plaintiff's door and “took an
aggressive stance.” Fearing for his safety, plaintiff
struck McCarthy. McCarthy and other Psych-Techs pushed
plaintiff back into his cell and ...