United States District Court, E.D. California
FREDERICK E. LEONARD, Plaintiff,
M. THOMPSON, et al., Defendants.
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 that
due to a mistake on the part of a correctional officer, he
was forced into a fight and found guilty of “mutual
combat.” Before the court is 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,
dismiss the complaint, and give plaintiff leave to file an
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
times discussed herein, plaintiff was incarcerated at Solano
County's Stanton Correctional Facility in the
“Administrative Separation Program.” Plaintiff
identifies the following defendants: M. Thompson, Deputy; S.
Clemente, Deputy; and J. Metzger, Deputy. (Compl. (ECF No. 1
first claim, plaintiff states that on July 11, 2016, inmate
Jeffrey Butler made a racist remark and threated to kill
plaintiff. (Id. at 3, 10.) Plaintiff states that
Butler often made highly racists remarks. (Id. at
9-10.) Plaintiff is African American. Both he and Butler were
housed at that time in the Administrative Separation
(“Ad Sep”) area. (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff
states that he is in the Ad Sep area by choice because he
suffers from paranoia and schizophrenia. (Id. at
morning of July 12, 2016, Butler told plaintiff he was not
going to “lock down” so that he could
“move” on plaintiff. (Id. at 10.) At
some point later that day, defendant Thompson failed to make
sure inmate Butler was secure in his cell before letting
plaintiff out of his cell. Thompson then left his unit office
for fifteen minutes. (Id. at 3, 7.)
plaintiff was released from his cell, he walked down the
stairs and noticed that defendant Thompson was not in the
unit office. He then heard Butler yelling. He also saw Butler
look directly into plaintiff's cell and yell, “Now
where is this nigger!” Plaintiff felt he was in a
“fight or flight situation because I had already lock
my cell door behind me, and Officer Thompson was not in the
unit.” Butler then threatened to ambush plaintiff ...