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Censale v. Jackson

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 28, 2017

ANDRE E. JACKSON, Defendant.


          KANDIS A. WESTMORE United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Brian Robert Censale, a pretrial detainee incarcerated at the San Mateo County Jail, has filed a pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging the violation of his constitutional rights by Andre Jackson, San Mateo County Sheriff's Office Administration Classification Sergeant. Plaintiff has consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge over this action. Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis is granted in a separate order. The Court now reviews Plaintiff's complaint.


         I. Preliminary Review of Complaint

         A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that 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. Id. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” “Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only “‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007).

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

         Liability may be imposed on an individual defendant under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 if the plaintiff can show that the defendant's actions both actually and proximately caused the deprivation of a federally protected right. Lemire v. Cal. Dept. Corrections & Rehabilitation, 756 F.3d 1062, 1074 (9th Cir. 2013); Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988). A person deprives another of a constitutional right within the meaning of section 1983 if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative act or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do, that causes the deprivation of which the plaintiff complains. Leer, 844 F.2d at 633.

         Under no circumstances is there respondeat superior liability under § 1983. Lemire, 756 F.3d at 1074. Or, in layman's terms, under no circumstances is there liability under section 1983 solely because one is responsible for the actions or omissions of another. Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989); Ybarra v. Reno Thunderbird Mobile Home Village, 723 F.2d 675, 680-81 (9th Cir. 1984). A supervisor may be liable under § 1983 upon a showing of (1) personal involvement in the constitutional deprivation or (2) a sufficient causal connection between the supervisor's wrongful conduct and the constitutional violation. Henry A. v. Willden, 678 F.3d 991, 1003-04 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1207 (9th Cir. 2011)).

         II. Plaintiff's Claim

         Plaintiff's complaint alleges the following: Plaintiff is representing himself in his state criminal case. The state court has ordered that Plaintiff has the right to make telephone calls in connection with his case five hours per week. Beginning in December 2015, jail personnel required Plaintiff to make his legal phone calls from cell HC7. This is a cell that is used for intake into the jail and for inmates who are disruptive. The cell is not cleaned by the janitorial staff and smells of urine, feces, vomit, spit and piled-up garbage. The smell is so bad that it is difficult for Plaintiff to breathe.

         Plaintiff filed a state habeas action about the condition of the cell. In response to the habeas action, Defendant Sgt. Andre Jackson submitted a May 26, 2016 declaration stating, “In the event that Mr. Censale complains to staff that a holding cell where he is taken to complete legal phone calls is unsanitary, staff have been instructed to review and appropriately respond to his complaint.” Plaintiff wrote to Sgt. Jackson several times after May 26, 2016 explaining that the condition of the cell has not improved and that staff ignore his requests to clean the cell. Apparently, Sgt. Jackson has not responded to Plaintiff or instructed the staff to clean the cell. Presently, the cell is in a disgusting condition and it is “obvious” that staff leave it in that condition deliberately. Keeping the cell in this unsanitary condition creates a health hazard and imposes an undue hardship on Plaintiff to prosecute his state case.

         Liberally construed, the allegations in the complaint appear to give rise to constitutional claims based on unsanitary conditions of confinement and lack of access to the courts against Sgt. Jackson because he allegedly knew about the ...

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