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Ramey v. Franco

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 8, 2017

JOHNNEY RAMEY, Plaintiff,
v.
J. FRANCO, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          CAROLYN K. DELANEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with an action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. By findings and recommendations filed March 1, 2017, the undersigned found that plaintiff's first amended complaint failed to cure the defects in the original complaint and that further leave to amend would be futile and recommended dismissal of this action with prejudice. (ECF No. 17.) Plaintiff has timely filed objections to the findings and recommendations (ECF No. 21) along with a second amended complaint (ECF No. 20). Because the allegations in the second amended complaint are sufficient to state a claim against one of the defendants, the March 1, 2017 findings and recommendations will be withdrawn and the undersigned will screen the second amended complaint.

         I. Second Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that defendants Anderson, Franco, Caplin, Leckie, Shultz, Peterson, Bagler, and Cohayal violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. (ECF No. 20.) Specifically, he alleges that defendant Anderson violated his Eighth Amendment rights[1] by constantly banging on the prison bars and shining a flashlight in his face between 10:30 p.m. and 4:00 a.m., five days a week, for a period of six months in order to deprive him of sleep. (Id. at 5, 10-11.) He further alleges that after he complained about Anderson's conduct, which led to Anderson being disciplined, Anderson voiced his displeasure with plaintiff and retaliated against him by displaying increased aggression and continuing his behavior. (Id. at 5.) As a result of the prolonged sleep deprivation, plaintiff was rushed to the hospital “for chest pains, stress heart related mental or physical injury.” (Id. at 11.)

         Plaintiff further alleges that defendant Franco violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights when he filed a false disciplinary report against plaintiff that resulted in the loss of thirty days of exercise rights. (Id. at 20.) Defendant Leckie then violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by denying him a fair disciplinary hearing and imposing a thirty-day loss of exercise rights when the maximum allowed by policy is ten days. (Id. at 13-14.) Defendant Caplin allegedly violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments by destroying and refusing to respond to an informal complaint related to the false disciplinary report and by making false statements about plaintiff. (Id. at 8, 14-15.) During a rehearing on the disciplinary charge, defendant Shultz violated plaintiff's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by placing him “twice in jeopardy for a single act and aggravating the adverse punishment for successful appeal.” (Id. at 16.) It appears that he may also be attempting to make retaliation claims against defendants Leckie and Shultz related to their conduct during the disciplinary hearings. (Id. at 14, 17.)

         Finally, defendants Peterson, Bagler, and Cohayal allegedly refused to process plaintiff's grievances related to the other defendants' actions. (Id. at 3, 6, 9.)

         II. Claims for Which a Response Will Be Required

         A. Sleep Deprivation

         “The Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons, but neither does it permit inhumane ones.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). “[A] prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only when two requirements are met. First, the deprivation alleged must be, objectively, sufficiently serious, a prison official's act or omission must result in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities.” Id. at 834 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Second, the prison official must subjectively have a sufficiently culpable state of mind, “one of deliberate indifference to inmate health or safety.” Id. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The official is not liable under the Eighth Amendment unless he “knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.” Id. at 837. Then he must fail to take reasonable measures to abate the substantial risk of serious harm. Id. at 847.

         “‘[P]ublic conceptions of decency inherent in the Eighth Amendment require that [inmates] be housed in an environment that, if not quiet, is at least reasonably free of excess noise.'” Keenan v. Hall, 83 F.3d 1083, 1090 (9th Cir. 1996) (alteration in original) (quoting Toussaint v. McCarthy, 597 F.Supp. 1388, 1397, 1410 (N.D. Cal. 1984), aff'd in part, rev'd in part on other grounds, 801 F.2d 1080, 1110 (9th Cir.1986)). Conditions which cause prolonged sleep deprivation may violate an inmate's rights under the Eighth Amendment. Id. at 1090-91 (six months of constant illumination in cell that led to “‘grave sleeping problems' and other mental and psychological problems” sufficient to state claim under Eighth Amendment).

         Plaintiff's allegation that defendant Anderson deliberately banged on the prison bars and repeatedly shined a flashlight in his face between 10:30 p.m. and 4:00 a.m., five days a week, for a period of six months in order to deprive him of sleep is sufficient to state a claim for a violation of plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights and defendant Anderson will be required to respond to this claim.

         B. Retaliatory Harassment

         Allegations of retaliation against a prisoner's First Amendment rights to speech or to petition the government may support a section 1983 claim. Rizzo v. Dawson, 778 F.2d 527, 531-32 (9th Cir. 1985); Pratt v. Rowland, 65 F.3d 802, 806 (9th Cir. 1995).

Within the prison context, a viable claim of First Amendment retaliation entails five basic elements: (1) An assertion that a state actor took some adverse action against an inmate (2) because of (3) that prisoner's protected conduct, and that such action (4) chilled the inmate's exercise of his First Amendment rights, and (5) the action did not reasonably advance a legitimate correctional goal.

Rhodes v. Robinson, 408 F.3d 559, 567-68 (9th Cir. 2005) (footnote and citations omitted). Plaintiff's allegation that Anderson voiced his displeasure with plaintiff and became more aggressive in his harassment of plaintiff after he was disciplined because of plaintiff's complaints is sufficient to state a claim for retaliation and Anderson will also be required to respond to this claim.

         III. Failure to State a Claim

         A. False Disciplinary Report

         Prisoners do not have a right to be free from false accusations of misconduct, so the mere falsification of a report does not give rise to a claim under § 1983. Sprouse v. Babcock, 870 F.2d 450, 452 (8th Cir. 1989) (“Sprouse's claims based on the falsity of the charges and the impropriety of Babcock's involvement in the grievance procedure, standing alone, do not state constitutional claims.”); Freeman v. Rideout,808 F.2d 949, 951 (2nd Cir. 1986) (“The prison inmate has no constitutionally guaranteed immunity from being falsely or wrongly accused of conduct which may result in the deprivation of a protected liberty interest.”); Hanrahan v. Lane, 747 F.2d 1137, 1141 (7th Cir. 1984) (“[A]n allegation that a prison guard planted false evidence which implicates an inmate in a disciplinary infraction fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted where the procedural due process protections . . . are provided.”); Cauthen v. Rivera, No. 1:12-cv-01747 LJO DLB PC, 2013 WL 1820260, at *10, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62472, at *24 (E.D. Cal. April 30, 2013) (“The issuance of Rules Violation Reports, even if false, does not rise to the level of cruel and unusual punishment.” (citing Uribe v. Taylor, No. 2:10-cv-02615 DAD P, 2012 WL 4953176, at *7, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148229, at *20-22 (E.D. Cal. Oct. 12, 2012)); Jones v. Prater, No. 2:10-cv-01381 JAM KJN P, 2012 WL 1979225, at *2, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76486, at *5-6 (E.D. Cal. June 1, 2012) (“[P]laintiff cannot state a cognizable Eighth Amendment violation based on an allegation that defendants issued a false rules violation against plaintiff.”); Lopez v. Celaya, No. C 06-5071 TEH (PR), 2008 WL 205256, at *5, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8898, at *12 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 23, 2008) (“A ...


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