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Rebolledo v. Renteria

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 20, 2017

FELIPE REBOLLEDO, Plaintiff,
v.
RENTERIA, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH PREJUDICE (DOC. 7) ORDER DIRECTING CLERK'S OFFICE TO CLOSE CASE

          JENNIFER L. THURSTON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         In this action, Plaintiff, a general population inmate, complains of an incident during which Officer Renteria placed him in a holding cage with sensitive needs inmates, who attacked him. These allegations are not cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as a violation of Plaintiff's federal rights which requires the action to be DISMISSED with prejudice.

         A. 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, malicious, 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); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). If an action is dismissed on one of these three basis, a strike is imposed per 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). An inmate who has had three or more prior actions or appeals dismissed as frivolous, malicious, or for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and has not alleged imminent danger of serious physical injury does not qualify to proceed in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g); Richey v. Dahne, 807 F.3d 1201, 1208 (9th Cir. 2015).

         B. Summary of Allegations

         Plaintiff alleges that when he was taken to see his doctor for a “follow up on” Plaintiff's leg, Officer R. Renteria placed him in a holding cage with sensitive needs inmates. (Doc. 7, p. 3.) The other inmates assaulted Plaintiff because he is a general population inmate. (Id.) Despite having been provided the legal standards for a claim under the Eighth Amendment in the prior screening order, (see Doc. 6, pp. 5-6), these are Plaintiff's only factual allegations in the First Amended Complaint. While Plaintiff may be able to state a claim for negligence under California law, [1] his allegations are insufficient to state a cognizable claim for violation of his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         C. Plaintiff's Claim for Relief

         1. Eighth Amendment -- Safety

         Though Plaintiff again did not identify which of his civil rights he felt were violated in this incident, the Eighth Amendment appears most applicable. “The treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832, 114 S.Ct. 1970 (1994) (citing Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993)). Prison officials have a duty “to take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of inmates, which has been interpreted to include a duty to protect prisoners.” Labatad v. Corrections Corp. of America, 714 F.3d 1155, 1160 (citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at 832-33; Hearns v. Terhune, 413 F.3d 1036, 1040 (9th Cir. 2005)).

         To establish a violation of this duty, the prisoner must “show that the officials acted with deliberate indifference to threat of serious harm or injury to an inmate.” Labatad, at 1160 (citing Gibson v. County of Washoe, 290 F.3d 1175, 1187 (9th Cir. 2002). This involves both objective and subjective components.

         First, objectively, the alleged deprivation must be “sufficiently serious” and where a failure to prevent harm is alleged, "the inmate must show that he is incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm." Id. at 834, quoting Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 349, 101 S.Ct. 2392 (1981). Placing a general population inmate in a holding cage with a group of sensitive needs inmates suffices as a sufficiently serious situation that poses a substantial risk of serious harm.

         However, Plaintiff's allegations still do not meet the second, subjective requirement of showing that Officer Renteria knew “of and disregard an excessive risk” to Plaintiff's safety. Id. at 837; Anderson v. County of Kern, 45 F.3d 1310, 1313 (9th Cir. 1995). A prison official must "be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and . . . must also draw the inference." Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837, 114 S.Ct. 1970. Liability may follow only if a prison official "knows that inmates face a substantial risk of serious harm and disregards that risk by failing to take reasonable measures to abate it." Id. at 847, 114 S.Ct. 1970.

         Plaintiff's allegations do not show that Officer Renteria was deliberately indifferent to the risk of harm to Plaintiff when he placed Plaintiff in the holding cage with the sensitive needs inmates. At most, Plaintiff's allegations of Officer Renteria's actions may amount to negligence. However, mere negligence will not support a cause of action under the Eighth Amendment. See Broughton v. Cutter Laboratories, 622 F.2d 458, 460 (9th Cir.1980) (citing Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105-06); Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1060 (9th Cir.2004). Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint does not state a cognizable claim against Officer Renteria.

         2.Claims ...


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