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Jackson v. Diaz

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 15, 2017

RALPH M. DIAZ, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff, a prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on January 9, 2017. (ECF No. 1.) On February 28, 2017, the Court screened Plaintiff's civil rights complaint and found it stated cognizable claims against Defendants Davis and Lunes for violating the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. (ECF No. 7.) Plaintiff was directed to file either an amended complaint or a notice of willingness to proceed only on his cognizable claims.

         Plaintiff's first amended complaint is now before the Court for screening. (ECF No. 10.) He has declined Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. (ECF No. 5.) No other parties have appeared.

         I. Screening Requirement

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an 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).

         II. Pleading Standard

         Section 1983 provides a cause of action against any person who deprives an individual of federally guaranteed rights “under color” of state law. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 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)), 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). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Under section 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). 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, Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted), but nevertheless, the mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting the plausibility standard, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         III. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California. His claims stem from events that took place at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (“CSATF”) in Corcoran, California.

         He names as Defendants Correctional Lieutenant M. Lunes; Correctional Officers Jared Davis and J. Joosten; Correctional Counselor II R. Hall; and Appeals Coordinator Ramos Ssaly. All are sued in their individual and official capacities.

         Plaintiff's allegations are best summarized as follows:

         On December 5, 2012, at approximately 6:45 am, Defendants Davis and Joosten entered Plaintiff's cell and physically assaulted Plaintiff. Davis placed Plaintiff in a chokehold and hit him in the head and face. Joosten slammed Plaintiff into the concrete and placed his knee in Plaintiff's back. After Davis placed restraints on Plaintiff, he kneed Plaintiff in the back and stated, “Welcome to SATF, you've been introduced to the white devil.” At approximately 10:00 am that same day, Plaintiff was placed in administrative segregation (“ad-seg”). On December 18, 2012, Plaintiff was issued a Rules Violation Report (“RVR”) for battery on a peace officer (“the first RVR”).

         On April 7, 2013, Plaintiff filed a grievance complaining about the December 5 assault. He specifically requested that he not be retaliated against for filing the grievance. On April 9, 2013, Plaintiff attended a hearing on the first RVR. Defendant M. Lunes presided as the senior hearing officer (“SHO”). Defendant Lunes found Plaintiff not guilty of battery on a peace officer, but found Plaintiff guilty of the lesser offense of resisting a peace officer.

         Plaintiff was released from ad-seg on or about April 30, 2013. On May 13, 2013, Plaintiff filed a grievance asking that the first RVR be dismissed in its entirety since the “Findings” section of the RVR showed that there was sufficient evidence presented during the disciplinary hearing to find Plaintiff not guilty of resisting a peace officer.

         On October 1, 2013, Davis issued Plaintiff another RVR stemming from the December 5, 2012 incident, this time for possession and distribution of a controlled substance (“the second RVR”). A hearing was held on October 29, 2013, and Lunes again presided as the SHO. Plaintiff said he was concerned that Lunes would not provide him a fair hearing. Lunes said the hearing would not be fair, then advised Plaintiff of his appeals rights and said the appeal would not be fair either. Plaintiff asked Lunes if he had a problem with Plaintiff. Lunes said Plaintiff's May 13, 2013 grievance was the problem. Lunes said the second RVR should never have been written, and therefore should be dismissed. Lunes went on to say, “Since there is no proof of sales I could drop this to simple possession, but since I know how much you like writing 602's I'm gonna keep you busy, find you guilty, and take those visits because that's how I do it.” Plaintiff was found guilty of possession of a controlled substance for sales or distribution.

         On December 15, 2013, Plaintiff filed a grievance stating that his procedural due process rights were intentionally violated by the Senior Hearing Officer. On January 28, 2014, Plaintiff was interviewed on the matter. Plaintiff was told that he would hear back soon and Defendant Hall said “Lieutenant Lunes sends his regards.” On February 7, 2014, the Chief Disciplinary Officer issued an order indicating that the first RVR would be dismissed for the due process violation of “stacking” in relation to the second RVR. On February 12, 2014, Plaintiff received a copy of said order, along with an informational chrono (“Form 128-B”) stating that the first RVR, for battery on a peace officer, would be dismissed.

         On February 23, 2014, Plaintiff filed another grievance requesting that the second RVR be dismissed because of violations of due process. The grievance was cancelled as untimely. On March 6, 2014, Plaintiff resubmitted the grievance, contesting the untimeliness issue. On March 11, 2014, a person “claiming” to be Defendant Ramos came to Plaintiff's cell to give Plaintiff a CDCR Form 695 saying that Plaintiff was abusing the appeals process. Ramos stated, “Stop appealing this issue unless you want to end up in [ad-seg].” (alteration in original).

         On April 4, 2014, Plaintiff was sent to ad-seg for an unrelated issue. Soon after Plaintiff arrived in ad-seg, Defendant Joosten arrived at Plaintiff's cell and stated, “It's time for your dog ass to pay for your crimes against humanity.” In June 2014, Plaintiff was told by a friend to expect a package. In July 2014, Plaintiff asked Joosten if a package had arrived for him. Joosten replied, “You ain't got nothing coming” and barked at Plaintiff like a dog. In September 2014, Plaintiff was transferred to the Secure Housing Unit (“SHU”) of Corcoran State Prison. On November 17, 2014, Plaintiff submitted a grievance concerning his package. The grievance was rejected because Plaintiff did not provide a tracking number for the package. Plaintiff attempted to resubmit the grievance, but it was again cancelled. Plaintiff submitted a grievance appealing the cancellation. Ramos called Plaintiff on the phone and said, “Did you think I was playing, I'm having you sent to the bay now, and if you don't knock it off you'll be stuck up there for the rest of your life.” Plaintiff was eventually transferred to Pelican Bay State Prison.

         Plaintiff alleges violations of the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. He seeks injunctive relief and damages.

         IV. ...

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