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Jacques v. Lopez

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 18, 2017

J. LOPEZ, JR., et al., Defendants.


         Plaintiff Michael Jacques is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's complaint, filed on August 31, 2016.



         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 on which relief may be granted, ” or that “seek[] monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         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)). Moreover, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of Plaintiff's rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002).

         Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor. Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted). To survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The “sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully” is not sufficient, and “facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability” falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.



         Plaintiff is in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and is currently incarcerated at California State Prison, Sacramento. The incidents alleged in the complaint occurred while Plaintiff was housed in the receiving and release section at North Kern State Prison (“NKSP”) in Delano, California. Plaintiff names the following individuals as Defendants in their individual capacity: correctional officer J. Lopez, Jr., sergeant J. Vasquez, correctional officer J. Garza, correctional investigative service agent K. Joseph, correctional officer R. Razo, correctional officer S. Monge, correctional officer J. Gonzalez, nurse Dennis Barrios, and nurse G. Aro.

         On August 24, 2015, Plaintiff was transferred from Los Angeles County Jail to NKSP. When Plaintiff arrived at NKSP and was in the receiving and release area immediately after the strip search, Plaintiff was placed in mechanical restraints due to policy and procedure. Defendant Barrios interviewed Plaintiff about his medical health and medications and documented Plaintiff's contact corrective lenses, contact casing, contact solution, and medicated lotion. Defendant Barrios then asked Plaintiff where the medicated lotion was so he could document it. Defendant Gonzalez overheard this and stated, “Oh I think Correctional Officer J. Lopez Jr. threw away the lotion, but I'll ask him.” Defendant Gonzalez asked Defendant J. Lopez, Jr. (“Defendant Lopez”) about the lotion. Defendant Lopez replied, “This aint no fucking medicated lotion. This is fucking regular lotion.” Plaintiff then stated, “This aint no fucking regular lotion. This is fucking medicated lotion.”

         Plaintiff was nearly completed with his medical evaluation when Defendant Barrios asked Plaintiff to retrieve the medicated lotion so that he could see it and document it for the doctor for a later scheduled evaluation. As Plaintiff walked out of the medical portion in mechanical restraints, Defendant Lopez struck Plaintiff twice in the right side of his facial area and once on the left side of his facial area and then slammed Plaintiff on the ground. While Plaintiff was on the ground, Defendant Lopez choked Plaintiff which cut off Plaintiff's air supply and placed himself on the upper back of Plaintiff after Plaintiff told him several times that he could not breathe.

         While Plaintiff was recovering on the floor from being dazed, he was stepped on, stomped on, kneed, and punched by Defendants who were later identified by incident reports. Defendant Vasquez was the supervisor and a bystander present during the attack and did nothing to stop it. He had a “realistic opportunity” to prevent it, but he failed to do so. Defendant Vasquez's actions and inactions as a supervisor and sergeant supervisor caused and contributed to the attack. Defendant Vasquez ordered Defendant Razo to retrieve leg restraints and place them on Plaintiff. Defendant Razo placed the leg restraints on Plaintiff so tight that it restricted the blood flow and cut into the skin causing physical discomfort and his legs to go numb.

         Defendant Vasquez ordered the correctional officers to transition the handcuffs from the front of Plaintiff to the back. Defendant Athie took hold of Plaintiff's left hand and Defendant Garza took hold of Plaintiff's right hand and they transitioned the handcuffs so that they were behind Plaintiff. The handcuffs on both wrists were so tight that they restricted blood flow and cut into the skin causing physical discomfort and his hands to go numb.

         Defendant Joseph interviewed Plaintiff, but she refused to loosen or remove the overly tight handcuffs that were cutting into his skin. She also refused to photograph all of Plaintiff's injuries. While Plaintiff was in a holding cage without bathroom necessities such as a sitting stool, sink, or toilet, Defendant Barrios, who was the only nurse on duty, noted some but not all of Plaintiff's injuries, particularly his head. Defendant Barrios noted cuts to the right side of the mouth, indention marks to the right wrist, a reddened area with indention marks, a cut to the left wrist, indention marks and reddened area to the left wrist, indention marks and reddened area to the right ankle, and another reddened area with indention marks. Plaintiff contends that Defendant Barrios conspired to falsify reports and/or alter statements and official records to cover up the incident and so the events would be brought to light. Plaintiff stayed in the holding cage with no siting stool or bathroom necessities for 8 hours until he was transferred. Plaintiff had refused to be transferred until all of his injuries were documented.

         Defendant Aro, a nurse, then documented Plaintiff's injuries. Defendant Aro's report reflected that Plaintiff had swollen areas to the right side of the head, ear lobe, right inner leg, and left elbow, bruising to the mouth, a cut and reddened area to the right arm, and bruising or discolored area which was swollen to the left side of the mouth. Defendant Aro did not give or offer Plaintiff any medical treatment, even after Plaintiff requested it due to the pain.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Lopez, Gonzalez, Athie, Garza, Monge, Razo, and Vasquez conspired to file a false and intentionally misleading incident report against Plaintiff as an attempt to cover up and/or justify their excessive use of force.

         Plaintiff alleges that he received injuries to the right side of his head, right ear lobe, right and left sides of his mouth, the inside of his right arm, the inside of his right leg, left elbow, right wrist and left wrists, right ankle, and his leg just above his right and left ankles. Specifically, the right side of his head, right ear lobe, right inner leg, and left elbow were swollen, his mouth was bruised and swollen, and he had a cut and redness on his right arm. He also suffered from dizziness and headaches. Plaintiff also alleges that the violation of his rights caused emotional and psychological distress and pain, severe depression, humiliation, fear, and physical injuries.

         Plaintiff brings claims for excessive force, failure to intervene, conspiracy to file fraudulent and misleading incident and medical reports, deliberate indifference to a serious medical need, and conditions of ...

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