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Marquis Hicks v. Mantevousian

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 8, 2017

MATEVOUSIAN, et al., Defendants.



         In this action, Plaintiff asserts three claims: (1) for failure to be provided medical care and treatment for a scalp condition; (2) for an instance where he was attached by guards; and (3) for instances where his safety has been jeopardized by an officer who called him a snitch to other inmates and allowed other inmates to see documents from Plaintiff's C-file that show he cooperated criminal proceedings. This action violates Rule 18 and 20 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because Plaintiff's claims appear to be completely unrelated, though of the claims raised, only one is cognizable as stated. Plaintiff may either file a first amended complaint correcting the deficiencies or advise the Court that he is willing to proceed only on the claim found cognizable herein.

         A. Screening Requirement

         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, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). If an action is dismissed on one of these three bases, a strike is imposed per 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). An inmate who has had three or more prior actions or appeals dismissed as frivolous, malicious, or for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and has not alleged imminent danger of serious physical injury does not qualify to proceed in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g); Richey v. Dahne, 807 F.3d 1201, 1208 (9th Cir. 2015).

         B. Summary of Plaintiff's Complaint

         Plaintiff is a federal prisoner and, though currently housed at the Federal Correctional Institution in Terre Haute, IN, states allegations based on circumstances that occurred when he was housed at the United States Prison in Atwater, CA. Plaintiff names Warden Andre Mantevousian, Designation and Sentence Computation Center Chief Jose Santana, SHU Lieutenant S. Putnam, and Does 1-14 as defendants and seeks monetary damages.

         In his first claim, Plaintiff contends that his rights under the Eighth Amendment were violated when, despite complaining separately every day to John Does 1-10 that he had a painful condition on his scalp which itched profusely and caused bald spots, he was told that the BOP does not treat skin conditions and was refused any treatment. (Doc. 1, p. 3.) Plaintiff states he complained to Warden Mantevousian, to no avail. (Id.)

         In his second claim, Plaintiff alleges that in December of 2015, while his hands were restrained behind his back, he was attacked by John Does 11-14 who slammed him to the ground where they punched and kicked him. (Id., p. 4.) Just before he was interviewed and his injuries videotaped, one of the John Does whispered in his ear “say you're not injured or we will kill you next time.” (Id.) Plaintiff indicates that he sustained injuries to his knees, shoulder, spine, and neck along with mental and emotional trauma. (Id.)

         In his third claim, Plaintiff alleges that Lt. Putnam violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment and the Privacy Act when Lt. Putnam called him a snitch in front of other inmates and provided the other inmates copies of documents from Plaintiff's C-File which showed Plaintiff cooperated with law enforcement in his criminal proceedings. (Id., p. 5.)

         Though Plaintiff has stated some cognizable claims, they are unrelated and may not proceed in the same action without violating Rules 18 and 20. Thus, the Court provides Plaintiff the pleading requirements and legal standards and leave to file a first amended complaint that does not contain unrelated claims.

         C. Pleading Requirements

         1. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)

         A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a). "Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512.

         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), quoting 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 that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Factual allegations are accepted as true, but legal conclusions are not. Iqbal. at 678; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556-557.

         While “plaintiffs [now] face a higher burden of pleadings facts . . ., " Al-Kidd v. Ashcroft, 580 F.3d 949, 977 (9th Cir. 2009), the pleadings of pro se prisoners are still construed liberally and are afforded the benefit of any doubt. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). However, "the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations, " Neitze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989), "a liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled, " Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982), and courts are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences, Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The “sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully” is not sufficient, and “facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability” fall short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         If he chooses to file a first amended complaint, it should be concise. He should merely state which of his constitutional rights he feels were violated by each Defendant and what the Defendants did to cause the violations.

         2. Linkage Requirement

         Plaintiff is a federal prisoner and brings this suit pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), which, under limited circumstances, provides a remedy for violation of civil rights by federal actors. Minneci v. Pollard, 565 U.S. 118, 122-123 (2012). Plaintiff may sue individual prison employees for damages under Bivens, but he must link each named defendant to a violation of his constitutional rights; there is no respondeat superior liability under Bivens. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676-77; Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1205-08 (9th Cir. 2011), cert. denied, 132 S.Ct. 2101 (2012); Serra v. Lappin, 600 F.3d 1191, 1200 (9th Cir. 2010).

         Plaintiff must clearly state which Defendant(s) he feels are responsible for each violation of his constitutional rights and their factual basis as his complaint must put each Defendant on notice of Plaintiff's claims against him or her. See Austin v. Terhune, 367 F.3d 1167, 1171 (9th Cir. 2004). Notably, Plaintiff fails to link Jose Santan to any of his factual allegations.

         3. ...

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