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Dillingham v. Scruggs

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 2, 2017

JERRY DILLINGHAM, Plaintiff,
v.
EVA SCRUGGS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER OF PARTIAL DISMISSAL AND SERVICE

          YVONNE GONZALEZ ROGERS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, a state prisoner currently incarcerated at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, filed a pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, stemming from alleged constitutional violations the took place while he was incarcerated at Salinas Valley State Prison (“SVSP”) from 2011 through 2013. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages based on alleged injuries caused by the following Defendants: SVSP Bakery Supervisors Eva Scruggs and J. Brunscher; SVSP Lieutenant R. Mojica, SVSP Warden A. Hedgpeth; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) Secretary J. Beard; and CDCR Director M. Cate.

         Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis has been granted.

         The Court notes that Plaintiff originally filed the same claims against most of the same Defendants in another civil rights action, Case No. C 12-6537 YGR (PR), in which the Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) was the operative complaint. Compare Dkt. 1 with Dkt. 16 in Case No. C 12-6537 YGR (PR). However, in that case, the Court granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment based on the failure to exhaust administrative remedies as to most of the claims in the SAC (i.e., all claims except for the retaliation claim against Defendants Brunscher and Scruggs, and SVSP Officer S. Lawson). See Dkt. 97 in Case No. C 12-6537 YGR (PR) at 3-14. The aforementioned claims were dismissed without prejudice to refiling after exhausting California's prison administrative process. See Id. (citing McKinney v. Carey, 311 F.3d 1198, 1199-1201 (9th Cir. 2002)). The Court granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment as to Plaintiff's remaining retaliation claim. Id. at 14-24.

         Now pending before the Court is Plaintiff's complaint, in which he has refiled most of the claims from his previous action and indicated that he has since exhausted his claims to the “highest level of appeal available to [him].” See Dkt. 1 at 1-2. The Court reviews the complaint below.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         A federal court must engage in a preliminary screening of any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must identify any cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §1915A(b)(1), (2).

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated and (2) that the violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

         B. Legal Claims

         In the instant complaint, Plaintiff alleges multiple incidents involving various SVSP prison officials. Specifically, the Court finds that Plaintiff has alleged the following cognizable claims against the following named Defendants:

(1) an Eighth Amendment claim that Defendants Scruggs and Brunscher acted with deliberate indifference to the threat of serious harm or injury to Plaintiff by other prisoners resulting from these Defendants spreading certain rumors that Plaintiff was a “snitch, informant, rat, cop” (Claim 1);
(2) claim for emotional distress and mental torture against Defendants Scruggs, Brunscher and Mojica for their acts of “malicouslly [sic] caus[]ing the spread of identifying [Plaintiff] as a ‘snitch, ' ‘informant' amongst dangerous convicts” prior to the January 18, 2013 incident involving an assault and battery with a weapon by his cell mate inmate Lozano, who stated to ...

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