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McGraw v. Grounds

United States District Court, N.D. California

May 2, 2017

TRAVION MCGRAW, Plaintiff,
v.
R. GROUNDS; J. ABOYTES; G.R. SALAZAR; R. BINKELE; N. WALKER; R. BURGH; S. HATTON; T. LEE; M. VOONG, Defendants.

          ORDER OF SERVICE

          William Alsup United States District Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, a California prisoner at Pelican Bay State Prison, filed this civil rights case under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against officials at Salinas Valley State Prison (“SVSP”), where plaintiff was formerly housed. He is granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in a separate order. For the reasons discussed below, the complaint is ordered served upon defendants.

         ANALYSIS

         A. Standard of Review

         Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. 1915A(a). In its review the court must identify any cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. at 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." "Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only '"give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests."'" Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (citations omitted). Although in order to state a claim a complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations, . . . a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. . . . Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer "enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 1974.

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. 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 deprivation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

         B. Legal Claims

         Plaintiff claims that defendant Aboytes searched his cell without a slip and accused him of being involved in a riot. Aboytes issued him a “Rules Violation Report” that included a term of five months in administrative segregation. Defendant Salazar conducted the disciplinary hearing at which he told plaintiff to plead guilty to the charges of participating in a riot and would not allow him to call a witness. Defendant Walker and Binkele reviewed the consequent placement of plaintiff in administrative segregation and upheld it. Defendant Burgh extended his administrative segregation stay. Defendant Hatton denied his administrative grievance complaining about administrative segregation. At the final level of administrative review, prison officials ordered plaintiff's Rules Violations Report to be reissued and reheard because of due process violations. At the rehearing plaintiff was found not guilty of violating prison rules and he was returned to ordinary housing. He spent approximately one year in administrative segregation.

         Plaintiff then filed administrative grievances complaining about lost wages and his transfer to another prison away from his family. Defendants Burgh, Hatton, Lee and Voong denied grievances seeking request for transfer.

         Plaintiff claims that there was no evidence that he participated in a riot, and that defendants were retaliating against him for filing administrative grievances when he was at Corcoran State Prison. When liberally construed, his complaint states cognizable claims against defendants Aboytes, Hatton, Burgh, Walker, Binkele and Salazar for the violation of his right to due process insofar as he was placed in segregation for a lengthy period without adequate procedural protections or evidentiary support, and for a violation of his First Amendment rights insofar as he was segregated in retaliation for filing administrative grievances.

         Plaintiff's allegations against Defendants Burgh, Hatton, Lee and Voong for denying his grievances regarding a transfer and lost wages do not state a cognizable claim for relief because the denial of an administrative grievance does not implicate his constitutional rights. See Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 860 (9th Cir. 2003) (there is no constitutional right to a prison administrative appeal or grievance system).

         The only allegation against defendant Grounds is that as the Warden of SVSP he is “legally responsible” for the actions of the other prison officials who violated plaintiff's constitutional rights. See Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 ...


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