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Daniels v. Valencia

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 8, 2017

DAVID DANIELS, Plaintiff,
v.
J. VALENCIA, et al ., Defendants.

         THIRTY DAY DEADLINE

         ORDER FINDING CERTAIN CLAIMS COGNIZABLE ORDER FOR PLAINTIFF TO: (1) NOTIFY THE COURT THAT HE IS WILLING TO PROCEED ONLY ON THE CLAIM AGAINST DEFENDANTS UNKNOWN DEFENDANT #1, M. OWENS, E. TORRES, J. VALENCIA, S. PANO, M. BENEVIDEZ, C. CRABTREE, N. JOHNSON, AND E. MADRUGA FOR EXCESSIVE FORCE IN VIOLATION OF THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT; (2) FILE A FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT; OR, (3) NOTIFY THE COURT THAT HE WISHES TO STAND ON HIS COMPLAINT, SUBJECT TO FINDINGS ANDRECOMMENDATIONS TO THE DISTRICT JUDGE CONSISTENT WITH THIS ORDER (ECF No. 1)

         Plaintiff David Daniels is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed the complaint commencing this action on April 6, 2017, which is now before this Court for screening. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff claims that he was beaten in his cell by correctional officer defendants and failed to receive adequate medical attention after the incident.

         I. 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 or malicious, ” that 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). “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).

         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., quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id.

         In determining whether a complaint states an actionable claim, the Court must accept the allegations in the complaint as true, Hosp. Bldg. Co. v. Trs. of Rex Hosp., 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976), construe pro se pleadings liberally in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000), and resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969). Pleadings of pro se plaintiffs “must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (holding that pro se complaints should continue to be liberally construed after Iqbal).

         II. SUMMARY OF PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff's complaint discusses events that occurred at California State Prison, SATF in Corcoran, CA on March 14, 2016. In particular, he alleges that unknown Defendant #1, a lieutenant, as well as correctional officers M. Owens, E. Torres, J. Valencia, S. Pano, M. Benevidez, C. Crabtree and N. Johnson, used excessive physical force on him.

         E. Torres opened Plaintiff's cell door. M. Owens, J. Valencia, S. Pano, M. Benevidez, C. Crabtree, N. Johnson, and the unknown Defendant #1 entered Plaintiff's cell and each of them beat and kicked Plaintiff with closed fists and feet. M. Benevidez placed Plaintiff in a rear choke hold while J. Valencia repeatedly punched Plaintiff in the face, head, and right eye with his closed fist. N. Johnson kicked Plaintiff repeatedly while C. Crabtree, M. Owens, and unknown Defendant #1 punched Plaintiff until Plaintiff lost consciousness. They dragged an unconscious and bleeding Plaintiff out of his cell with his hands cuffed behind his back and leg restraints on his legs. E. Madruga dragged Plaintiff by the neck in a choke hold and covered Plaintiff's head with a bag to hide Plaintiff's injuries from witnesses. E. Madruga instructed the group of prison guards to bring Plaintiff to the rear area of the housing unit so no witnesses could see. Then E. Madruga slammed Plaintiff's head repeatedly into a wall and threw Plaintiff into a holding cage.

         Plaintiff was seriously injured by this incident and required surgery on his right eye. He was hospitalized for three days.

         Plaintiff also alleges that he requested medical treatment for his serious medical needs from many defendants and was denied access to readily available treatment. While still in a holding cage, E. Hernandez, an investigative staff unit Sergeant, and unknown Defendant #4 came to investigate the incident. Plaintiff requested medical treatment for his serious medical needs and was denied access. D. Snell informed Plaintiff that he had been instructed to assemble an escort team for a special transfer by orders of the warden and that Plaintiff would receive no medical treatment. Plaintiff was taken to Corcoran's SHU without allowing for medical care.

          III. EVALUATION OF PLAINTIFF'S EIGHTH AMENDMENT CLAIM FOR EXCESSIVE FORCE

         “In its prohibition of ‘cruel and unusual punishments, ' the Eighth Amendment places restraints on prison officials, who may not…use excessive physical force against prisoners.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832, 114 S.Ct. 1970, 1976, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994), citing Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1 (1992). “[W]henever prison officials stand accused of using excessive physical force in violation of the [Eighth Amendment], the core judicial inquiry is… whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain ...


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