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Smith v. Valencia

United States District Court, N.D. California

May 6, 2017

LAJAZZ A. SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
L. VALENCIA, Defendant.

          ORDER SERVING COGNIZABLE CLAIM

          KANDIS A. WESTMORE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Lajazz Smith, a state prisoner incarcerated at Salinas Valley State Prison, has filed a pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging the violation of her constitutional rights by Correctional Officer L. Valencia. Plaintiff has consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge over this action. Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis is granted in a separate order. The Court now reviews Plaintiff's complaint.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Preliminary Review of Complaint

         A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks 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 that 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. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).

         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, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (citations omitted).

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

         Liability may be imposed on an individual defendant under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 if the plaintiff can show that the defendant's actions both actually and proximately caused the deprivation of a federally protected right. Lemire v. Cal. Dept. Corrections & Rehabilitation, 756 F.3d 1062, 1074 (9th Cir. 2013); Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988).

         II. Plaintiff's Claims

         Plaintiff's complaint alleges the following: Plaintiff is a transgender individual. Officer Valencia discriminates against Plaintiff on the basis of her gender. For instance, Officer Valencia harasses Plaintiff on a daily basis by calling her “bitches/gay, fags and boys” and tells other inmates how Plaintiff was raped. Valencia has put Plaintiff “on the wall” and dug her nails into Plaintiff's right arm.

         Liberally construed, the allegations appear to give rise to a cognizable Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim and a cognizable Eighth Amendment excessive force claim.

         CONCLUSION

         Based on the foregoing, the Court issues the following Orders:

         1. Liberally construed, the allegations appear to give rise to a cognizable Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim and a cognizable Eighth Amendment ...


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