United States District Court, N.D. California
TIGAR United States District Judge.
an inmate at Pelican Bay State Prison (“PBSP”),
filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has been granted leave to
proceed in forma pauperis in a separate order. His
complaint (Dkt. No. 1) is now before the Court for review
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Standard of Review
federal court must engage in a preliminary screening of any
case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental
entity, or from an officer or an 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
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). Pro se pleadings
must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica
Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).
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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
“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)
(citations omitted). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to
provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment]
to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and
a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do. . . . Factual allegations must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Id. at 570.
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. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42,
reviewing the complaint's factual allegations, the Court
notes that although Plaintiff has only alleged six causes of
actions, his complaint is 59 pages long with 227 pages of
exhibits, and the complaint details numerous allegedly
wrongful acts, some of which are unrelated to the causes of
actions, committed by Defendants between November 2013 and
April 2016. The Court simply does not have the resources to
scour the complaint and exhibits and organize the allegations
contained therein in order to perform its screening duty
under § 1915A and identify all cognizable
claims. Accordingly, the Court will presume that
Plaintiff only seeks to bring the six legal claims which he
has identified, and the Court will only review the factual
allegations which support his legal claims.
Court now turns to the allegations in Plaintiff's
complaint which, in sum, alleges that prison officials have
been continuously harassing him in retaliation for his use of
the prison grievance system.
2013 - December 2013: Truvino Grievance and Related Cell
November 6, 2013, Plaintiff and other inmates filed a group
appeal against Correctional Officer Truvino (who is not a
named defendant) for attempting to incite racial tensions
between Black and Hispanic inmates. Dkt. No. 1 at 12.
retaliated against Plaintiff for filing for this group appeal
in the following manner.
December 4, 2013, named defendants Officers Nichols and
Carraway trashed Plaintiff's cell under the guise of a
cell search. Dkt. No. 1 at 13. Twenty minutes after this cell
search was completed, John Does 1-15 rushed into
Plaintiff's cell section and trashed all the cells in the
section under the guise of a mass cell search. Id.
December 23, 2013, Plaintiff filed grievance PBSP-B-13-04123
alleging that the cell searches and trashing of cells was in
retaliation for his group appeal against Officer Truvino.
Dkt. No. 1 at 14. Plaintiff was interviewed by named
defendant Officer Barneburg with respect to this grievance.
Id. at 15. Officer Barneburg promised that
correctional officers would not retaliate against Plaintiff
and other prisoners for filing grievances. Id. at
15. In return, Plaintiff withdrew his grievance with the
understanding that Plaintiff could re-filed his grievance if
there were retaliatory acts in the future. Id. at
2014 - September 2014: Grievances Regarding Law Library
2015, Plaintiff secured a job assignment as a computer clerk
in B-Yard Education, which is located near the Law Library.
Dkt. No. 1 at 15. Officer Forkner, who is stationed at the
Law Library, was upset with Plaintiff's new job
assignment and therefore instituted a new and arbitrary
policy that inmates using the law library could only use the
restroom once or twice a day. Id. at 15-16.
Plaintiff filed a habeas action challenging Officer
Forkner's arbitrary policy. Id. at 15. On August
5, 2014, Officer Forkner also denied Plaintiff's request
for legal forms. Id. at 16.
early August 2014, Plaintiff filed a grievance and a Form 22
regarding Officer Forkner's restroom policy.
grievance PBSP-B-14-02281, Plaintiff alleged that Officer
Forkner had retaliated against him for Plaintiff's
efforts to seek redress of grievances; that Officer Forkner
had interfered with Plaintiff's access to the courts;
that Officer Forkner had incited racial tensions; and that
Officer Forkner had used improper language when dealing with
prisoners. Id. at 16-17. This grievance was
ultimately denied at all levels. Dkt. No. 1 at 35.
Form 22, Plaintiff informed Officer Barneburg that Officer
Forkner was retaliating against him for filing a grievance
challenging the restroom policy. Id. at 16. Named
defendant Officer Speaker responded to the Form 22, and
stated that the restroom policy was prompted by complaints
from correctional staff in B-Yard Education that inmates were
using the restroom without supervision. Id. at 17.
Plaintiff contacted B-Yard Education staff who all denied
making such complaints. Id. On August 21, 2014, as
Plaintiff was carrying out his assigned responsibility of
emptying out wastebaskets, Officer Speaker accused Plaintiff
of violating the restroom policy and threatened to issue an
RVR. Id. at 18. In response, Plaintiff stated that
he would file a grievance against Officer Speaker. Officer
Speaker escorted Plaintiff back to his cell and had him
confined to quarters. Id. at 18.
response to this incident, Plaintiff sent two Form 22s to
named defendant Captain Melton, and filed a group grievance
against Officer Speaker, PBSP-B-14-02545. The first Form 22
alleged that Officer Forkner was retaliating against him; and
the second Form 22 alleged that Officer Speaker was
retaliating against him for his complaints regarding Officer
Forkner. Id. at 18.
group grievance against Officer Speaker alleged that Officer
Speaker had falsely claimed that B-Yard Education staff
complained about inmates using the restroom; had falsely
accused Plaintiff of violating the restroom policy; had
compromised the integrity of a staff complaint investigation;
and had retaliated against him for filing a grievance against
Forkner. Dkt. No. 1 at 19. Named defendant Officer Higgerson
interviewed Plaintiff regarding this grievance. Officer
Higgerson advised Plaintiff to seek a medical chrono for
bathroom use in order to circumvent the restroom policy.
Officer Higgerson denied Plaintiff's grievance, relying
on the false evidence that B-Yard Education staff had made
complaints about inmates using the restroom. Id. at
time, Plaintiff was housed in PBSP B-Yard, 7-Block,
A-section. Due to a series of retaliatory events which are
described below, Plaintiff was transferred to administrative
segregation housing. On January 14, 2015, Officer Bramucci
informed Plaintiff that because Plaintiff was housed in
segregated housing, Plaintiff had been removed from the
complaint and named defendant Chief Deputy Warden Bradbury
had processed the staff complaint as a program issue instead.
Dkt. No. 1 at 39. In response, Plaintiff alleged that Officer
Bramucci had violated Plaintiff's First Amendment rights
when he excluded Plaintiff from his own grievance.
Id. Named defendants Officers Townsend, Osborne, and
Ducart affirmed Officer Bramucci's decision to remove
Plaintiff from the grievance. Id. Plaintiff appealed
this decision, but Officers Townsend and Bramucci cancelled
Plaintiff's appeal. Id. at 40. Plaintiff
appealed the cancellation of his appeal as an abuse of
discretion. Id. Officer Osborne affirmed the
cancellation of the appeal.
2014 Cell Search.
September 12, 2014, Officers Barneburg, Lacy, Schaad,
Williams, and Loheim, all named defendants, searched
Plaintiff's cell. Officer Schaad initially declared
Plaintiff's cell contraband free. Dkt. No. 1 at 20-21.
Then Plaintiff witnessed Officer Barneburg enter his cell
with a razor blade and exit without the razor blade.
Id. Shortly thereafter, Officer Schaad informed
Plaintiff that a razor blade had been found in his cell.
Id. The cell search also resulted in the
disappearance of Plaintiff's LAPD Murder Investigation
book files which were relevant to Plaintiff's criminal
habeas appeal. Id. at 24. After the cell search, not
all of Plaintiff's property was returned to him, with
named defendant Officer Harlen disposing of some of the
property disposed. Pursuant to the cell search and the
discovery of the knife, Plaintiff was reassigned to an
administrative segregation unit (“ASU”), which
was a more punitive level of housing than his prior housing.
Id. at 25.
and Form 22s Related to ...