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Jones v. Meddly

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 9, 2017

ARTHUR R. JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
E. MEDDLY, Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM (ECF NO. 1)

         Plaintiff Arthur R. Jones is appearing pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's complaint, filed January 24, 2017.

         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 on which relief may be granted, ” or that “seek[] monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         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)). Moreover, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of Plaintiff's rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002).

         Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor. Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted). To survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The “sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully” is not sufficient, and “facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability” falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff brings this action alleging that after showering on January 23, 2016, while being escorted to his cell with his hands cuffed behind his back, Correctional Officer Meddly did not ensure that he had a secure hold of Plaintiff's arm and Plaintiff fell down the metal staircase in the housing unit causing Plaintiff to be injured. (Compl. 3-4.) Plaintiff alleges that Correctional Officer Meddly's actions violated his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment and he is seeking monetary damages.

         The Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment protects prisoners not only from inhumane methods of punishment but also from inhumane conditions of confinement. Morgan v. Morgensen, 465 F.3d 1041, 1045 (9th Cir. 2006) (citing Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 847 (1994) and Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981)) (quotation marks omitted). While conditions of confinement may be, and often are, restrictive and harsh, they must not involve the wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain. Morgan, 465 F.3d at 1045 (citing Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 347) (quotation marks omitted). Thus, conditions which are devoid of legitimate penological purpose or contrary to evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society violate the Eighth Amendment. Morgan, 465 F.3d at 1045 (quotation marks and citations omitted); Hope v. Pelzer, 536 U.S. 730, 737 (2002); Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 346.

         To prove a violation of the Eighth Amendment, the plaintiff must “objectively show that he was deprived of something ‘sufficiently serious, ' and make a subjective showing that the deprivation occurred with deliberate indifference to the inmate's health or safety.” Thomas v. Ponder, 611 F.3d 1144, 1150 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). Deliberate indifference requires a showing that “prison officials were aware of a “substantial risk of serious harm” to an inmate's health or safety and that there was no “reasonable justification for the deprivation, in spite of that risk.” Thomas, 611 F.3d at 1150 (quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 844). The circumstances, nature, and duration of the deprivations are critical in determining whether the conditions complained of are grave enough to form the basis of a viable Eighth Amendment claim. Johnson v. Lewis, 217 F.3d 726, 731.

         Plaintiff has not alleged any facts to show that Correctional Officer Meddly was aware that Plaintiff was at a substantial risk of harm by the manner in which he was escorting Plaintiff from the showers. While Plaintiff alleges that Correctional Officer Meddly failed to have a secure hold on him in violation of the departmental procedures and common practice, that is not sufficient to show more than mere negligence. Negligence is insufficient to state an Eighth Amendment claim. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835 (more than negligence is required to violate the Eighth Amendment).

         As currently pled, the Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to allege facts to show that Correctional Officer Meddly was acting with conscious disregard to Plaintiff's safety while he was escorting Plaintiff back to his cell. Plaintiff shall be granted an opportunity to file an amended complaint to cure the deficiencies identified herein.

         IV. CONCLUSION AND ORDER

         Plaintiff's complaint fails to state a cognizable claim for a violation of his federal rights. The Court will provide Plaintiff with the opportunity to file an amended complaint curing the deficiencies identified by the Court in this order. Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448-49 (9th Cir. 1987). Plaintiff may not change the nature of this suit by adding new, unrelated claims in his amended complaint. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007) (no “buckshot” complaints).

         If Plaintiff opts to amend, his amended complaint should be brief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Plaintiff must identify how each individual defendant caused the deprivation of Plaintiff's constitutional or other federal rights: “The inquiry into causation must be individualized and focus on the duties and responsibilities of each individual defendant whose acts or omissions are ...


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