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Dotson v. Hilton

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 30, 2017

ERNEST DOTSON, Plaintiff,
v.
J. HILTON, Defendant.

          ORDER

          ALLISON CLAIRE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE 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. Plaintiff has consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned magistrate judge for all purposes pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Local Rule 305(a). ECF No. 4.

         I. Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Plaintiff has submitted a declaration that makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). ECF No. 2. 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 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).

         II. Screening Requirement

         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 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 Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989); Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.

         A complaint, or portion thereof, should only be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if it appears beyond doubt that plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of the claim or claims that would entitle him to relief. Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)); Palmer v. Roosevelt Lake Log Owners Ass'n, 651 F.2d 1289, 1294 (9th Cir. 1981). In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Hosp. Bldg. Co. v. Trs. of Rex Hosp., 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).

         III. Plaintiff's Allegations

         In the complaint, plaintiff alleges that he was stabbed in a prison yard “race riot” at California State Prison-Solano[1] and sustained several injuries, including a collapsed lung. ECF No. 1 at 5-6. Plaintiff asserts that “[i]t is customary for Solano correctional officers to observe a disturbance and respond after the disturbance has become an incident.” Id. at 4. With the respect to the incident at issue here, plaintiff alleges that defendants observed “Hispanic and black inmates pushing and shoving on the football field, but failed to prevent further disturbance.” Id. at 5. Plaintiff alleges that defendant Hilton “observed a mass of inmates moving from the baseball diamond, out of his sight, to the front of building (4) then, a racial riot broke out and several inmates attempted to murder [plaintiff].” Id. Plaintiff further claims that defendant Hilton admitted to plaintiff that he had observed “the pushing and shoving on the football field” and asked plaintiff whether he was a part of it. Id. Plaintiff argues that defendants failed to protect him “when they could have prevented the race riot before it happened.” Id. at 6. Plaintiff alleges that “[h]ad they called a code when the pushing and shoving happened, [he] never would have been stabbed.” Id.

         Plaintiff seeks monetary damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants for failing to prevent the riot that resulted in the stabbing of plaintiff. Id. at 6.

         Under the “Parties” section of the complaint, plaintiff identifies only correctional officer Hilton as a defendant. Id. at 2. The body of the complaint, however, also refers generally to “defendants” and correctional “officers.”

         IV. Equ ...


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