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Bullard v. R. St. Andra

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 18, 2017

R. ST. ANDRA, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's March 7, 2017, Complaint is before the Court for screening.

         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 complains of conduct occurring while he was housed at High Desert State Prison (“HDSP”) in Susanville, California, and then at Corcoran State Prison (“CSP”) in Corcoran, California.[1] Plaintiff names HDSP Warden R. St. Andra, Correctional Officer (“CO”) Benson, and Sergeant (“Sgt.”) Jane Doe. He also names CSP Warden Davie, CO B.W. Davis, CO A. Bustinza, Sgt. C. Love, Sgt. Wilson, and Lieutenant (“Lt.”) John Doe/P[2]. Finally, he names M. Voong, Chief at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Office of Appeals.

         Plaintiff's claims may be fairly summarized as follows:

         On November 25, 2015, while housed at HDSP, Plaintiff was escorted by CO Benson to Receiving and Release (“R&R”) due to an upcoming transfer to CSP. Once at R&R, CO Benson commented to CO Jane Doe, “I think inmate Bullard is walking weird.” CO Jane Doe said, “We'll give him the old treatment.” These two officers then took Plaintiff to a private room where CO Jane Doe closed the door. There, CO Benson held Plaintiff down while CO Jane Doe stuck a finger inside Plaintiff's rectum. Afterward, CO Jane Doe said, “I don't think he'll walk weird anymore, ” and CO Benson laughed while asking “Did you strike gold?” Neither of these Defendants reported the search.

         Plaintiff filed a grievance concerning this incident at HDSP and asked that it be kept confidential. On December 11, 2015, after he was transferred to CSP, he was interviewed by CSP staff members Lt. John Doe/P and Sgt. Wilson. Later that same day, CSP Warden Davie sent Sgt. Love of the I.S.U. Investigative Service Unit to interview Plaintiff.

         Per Plaintiff, the December 11, 2015, interviews establish HDSP Warden St. Andra's liability because, instead of directing HDSP staff to interview Plaintiff, this Defendant directed CSP staff members to interview him, putting Plaintiff “at risk to ridicule & reprisals, ” which he claims he did suffer. Warden St. Andra also failed to properly investigate Plaintiff's allegations. Regarding Warden Davie, the interviews purportedly establish his liability because he used to work at HDSP.

         On December 27, 2015, Plaintiff submitted a staff complaint at CSP that was rejected the next day. The appeal requested that (1) Plaintiff's personal property be located and returned to him; (2) he to be taken to the ICC Institutional Classification Committee; (3) his legal work be returned to him; (4) these reprisals against him stop; and (5) the Office of Internal Affairs investigate the matter.

         On an unspecified date, CO Davis approached Plaintiff's cell to escort him to the nurse's office. At Plaintiff's cell door, CO Davis asked “Ain't you the Bullard who filed a 602 against high desert staff?” CO Davis then left Plaintiff's door and did not escort Plaintiff to the nurse. Plaintiff claims this was in retaliation for his grievance.

         Defendants Warden St. Andra and Warden Davie conspired with the other Defendants to retaliate against Plaintiff for his sexual assault grievance. They also violated Plaintiff's confidentiality rights as a sexual assault victim.

         Plaintiff's multiple appeals regarding the sexual assault at HDSP were denied by Defendant Voong.

         Plaintiff seeks damages and declaratory relief.

         IV. Analysis

         A. ...

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