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Washington v. Gamboa

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 17, 2017

H. GAMBOA and R. ROQUE, Defendants.


         Plaintiff Jesse Washington is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court screened Plaintiff's Complaint on April 28, 2017. (ECF No. 9.) In its screening order, the Court found at least one cognizable claim and gave Plaintiff the option of: (1) proceeding only on his cognizable claims; (2) filing an amended complaint; or (3) standing on his Complaint, subject to findings and recommendations consistent with the Court's screening order. On May 12, 2017, Plaintiff filed notice informing the Court that he would like to stand on his Complaint. (ECF No. 10.) He also requests that the Court consider whether the Complaint states an additional claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) against the two defendants. Aside from a claim for retaliation (which the Court found was cognizable) and a § 1985(3) claim for conspiracy (which the Court has not yet evaluated), Plaintiff “gives Court consent to dismiss all other claims.” (ECF No. 10.) Accordingly, the Court will now screen Plaintiff's Complaint.


         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 is required to 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. The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id. at 679. While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, 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). Additionally, a plaintiff's legal conclusions are not accepted as true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         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).


         While Plaintiff was incarcerated at Kern Valley State Prison (“KVSP”), Plaintiff reached an agreement with the prison to allow Plaintiff to possess an extra Timex watch above the one personal watch allotment, as well as two CDs above the ten CD allotment.

         On May 5, 2015, Plaintiff filed a grievance appeal against Officers H. Flores and S. Longoria for refusing to document the additional Timex watch and CDs, along with a set of additional headphones, on Plaintiff's property card. Plaintiff also had a dispute regarding property resulting from correctional officer Zamora spitting into Plaintiff's personal drinking cup during another cell search.

         Defendant Gamboa conducted a first level property appeal interview with Plaintiff on May 29, 2015 and denied Plaintiff relief. Plaintiff told Defendant Gamboa that he intended to pursue a property appeal in small claims court if he needed to do so.

         Plaintiff submitted the property appeal to the second level and it was denied. On March 4, 2016, Plaintiff received the property appeal from the Director's level review, indicating that the Appeals Coordinator would provide Plaintiff with an additional response and, if he was not satisfied, return the appeal to the Director's level for final response.

         Defendant Gamboa was assigned to investigate the property appeal. Defendant Gamboa displayed hostility and anger toward Plaintiff and told Plaintiff that he should not have sent the property appeal log to the Director's level for review.

         On March 14, 2016, Defendants Gamboa and Roque conducted a search of Plaintiff's cell. During the search, they took eight CDs and one legal mail priority box. They left Plaintiff's legal property in disarray.

         When Plaintiff returned from his work shift, he confronted Defendants Gamboa and Roque about the search. Defendant Gamboa told Plaintiff that “he got what was coming” and should not have returned the property ...

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