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Williams v. Santiago

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 7, 2017




         Plaintiff is a civil detainee proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         Plaintiff initiated this action on July 25, 2016. (ECF No. 1.) On November 1, 2016, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint with leave to amend. (ECF No. 7.) On February 13, 2017, the Court screened Plaintiff's first amended complaint (“FAC”) and found it again stated no cognizable claims. (ECF No. 9.) Plaintiff was granted thirty days to amend. (Id.) His March 1, 2017 second amended complaint (“SAC”) is now before the Court for screening. (ECF No. 10.) He has consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. (ECF No. 3.) No other party has appeared.

         I. Screening Requirement

         The in forma pauperis statute provides, “Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         II. Pleading Standard

         Section 1983 “provides a cause of action for the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989).

         To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Ketchum v. Alameda Cnty., 811 F.2d 1243, 1245 (9th Cir. 1987).

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 677-78.

         III. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff is detained at Coalinga State Hospital (“CSH”). Plaintiff's SAC names Jessica Santiago “et al.” as Defendants in the caption of his complaint. Plaintiff does not expressly name the other Defendants. He also does not set forth the facts giving rise to his claims. Rather, Plaintiff intersperses his factual allegations with legal arguments asserting that his original complaint was improperly dismissed.

         An amended complaint supersedes the prior complaint, and should be complete in and of itself. Lacey v. Maricopa County, 693 F.3d 896, 907 n. 1 (9th Cir. 2012). The following factual allegations are therefore drawn solely from Plaintiff's SAC. The facts contained within Plaintiff's prior complaints are therefore not repeated herein. (The undersigned has, however, reviewed them and concluded that consideration of them would not, In any event, change the outcome of this case.)

         On April 5, 2016, Defendant Santiago, a former Unit 6 supervisor, placed Plaintiff's access hall card on medical hold as punishment and in retaliation for Plaintiff exercising his “Fifth Amendment” right to refuse medication. Plaintiff refused his medications because they caused adverse side effects. Santiago did not conduct a disciplinary hearing before deactivating the access card. Plaintiff was thus denied: 1) written notice of the charges against him; 2) 24 hours advanced notice of the April 5 “hearing” during which Santiago disabled the card; 3) a written statement by Santiago stating her reasons for disabling the card; 4) the right to call witnesses; and 5) staff assistance to defend his case. Santiago acted alone when she determined that Plaintiff was guilty of not taking his medications and placed his access card on medical hold.

         On February 17, 2017 (after the instant case was filed), Dr. Chand threatened to falsely report that Plaintiff was not competent to make his own medical decisions in refusing to take his blood pressure medications. The threat was in retaliation for Plaintiff's ...

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