United States District Court, E.D. California
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER RE DEFENDANTS'
MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF NO. 15)
LAWRENCE J. O'NEILL, UNITED STATES CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE
case, Plaintiff Ernest Morgan (“Plaintiff”)
brings three claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Defendants Edmund G. Brown, Jr., C. Baker, D. Meadows, J.
Schutte, P. Guzman, J. Gomez, J. Garcia, J. McNutt, and Does
1-10, inclusive (collectively, “Defendants”),
arising from the March 10, 2016 assault and battery against
Plaintiff while he was incarcerated at Wasco State Prison
(“Wasco”). Complaint (“Compl.”), ECF
No. 1. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants acted
in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments for
failing to protect him from being attacked, for not
alleviating the overcrowding at Wasco, and denying him
adequate medical care. Id.
now move for dismissal of the first two claims in
Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Federal
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). ECF No. 15. Plaintiff filed his
opposition (ECF No. 19) and Defendants replied (ECF No. 20).
This matter is suitable for disposition without oral
argument. See E.D. Cal. L.R. 230(g). For the reasons
below, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion.
SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
was a resident inmate at Wasco from approximately February
10, 2016 until December 23, 2016. Compl. ¶ 2. Aside from
Brown, who was the Governor of California, Defendants were
employed as prison guards at Wasco during the relevant time
period. Id.¶ 3.
March 10, 2016, Plaintiff informed Defendants that he would
be at risk of being attacked by other inmates if he were
housed with the general population of inmates at Wasco
because of a prior conviction, and requested to be housed in
the Sensitive Needs Yard (“SNY”). Id.
¶¶ 11-13. Defendants placed Plaintiff in the SNY.
Id. ¶ 14.
about March 10, 2016, while Plaintiff was in the exercise
yard with other SNY inmates, Kameron Merrilhooper
(“Merrilhooper”), a general population inmate,
entered the SNY exercise yard through an unguarded door, and
attacked Plaintiff. Id. ¶ 15. Prior to this
incident, Defendant Guzman had opened a door that separated
the general population from the SNY and left the door
unguarded. Id. Because of overcrowded conditions at
Wasco, Defendants were unable to observe the attack and
respond in a timely manner. Id. ¶ 17. As a
result of the attack, Plaintiff sustained obvious physical
injuries to his body and face, including a broken nose that
required medical care. Id. ¶ 19-22. Plaintiff
did not receive immediate medical care “despite being
bloodied and having a visible broken nose.”
Id. ¶ 45.
STANDARD OF DECISION
motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is a challenge to
the sufficiency of the allegations set forth in the
complaint. A 12(b)(6) dismissal is proper where there is
either a “lack of a cognizable legal theory” or
“the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a
cognizable legal theory.” Balisteri v. Pacifica
Police Dept., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). In
considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim,
the court generally accepts as true the allegations in the
complaint, construes the pleading in the light most favorable
to the party opposing the motion, and resolves all doubts in
the pleader's favor. Lazy Y. Ranch LTD v.
Behrens, 546 F.3d 580, 588 (9th Cir. 2008).
survive a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must, in
accordance with Rule 8, allege “enough facts to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the
Plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “The plausibility
standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement,
' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a
defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “While a complaint
attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need
detailed factual allegations, a Plaintiff's obligation to
provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitlement to
relief' requires more than labels and conclusions.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal citations
omitted). Thus, “bare assertions . . . amount[ing] to
nothing more than a ‘formulaic recitation of the
elements' . . . are not entitled to be assumed
true.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681. “[T]o be
entitled to the presumption of truth, allegations in a
complaint . . . must contain sufficient allegations of
underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the
opposing party to defend itself effectively.” Starr
v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). In
practice, “a complaint . . . must contain either direct
or inferential allegations respecting all the material
elements necessary to sustain recovery under some viable
legal theory.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 562.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Civil Rights Act, codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1983, provides
in relevant part:
Every person who, under color of [state law] …
subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the
United States … to the deprivation of any rights,
privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
… shall be liable to the party injured in an action at
law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.
42 U.S.C. § 1983. “[Section] 1983 ‘is not
itself a source of substantive rights, ' but merely
provides ‘a method for vindicating federal rights
elsewhere conferred.'” Graham v. Connor,
490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989) ...