United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND DOCKET NO.
M. CHEN United States District Judge.
Li, formerly an inmate at the Martinez Detention Facility in
Martinez, California, filed a pro se civil rights
complaint seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The
complaint is now before the Court for review under 28 U.S.C.
complaint, Andy Li alleges the following: On November 30,
2016, he was working in “intake” at the Martinez
Detention Facility and “was physically
attacked/ass[au]lted by a newly booked violent
offender.” (Docket No. 1 at 3.) Nurse Dhanoa, aware of
the offender's violent behavior, pulled that offender out
of his single cell safety status “in hopes” that
Mr. Li would be attacked and was motivated by retaliatory
intent. Deputy Ball failed to protect Mr. Li, as deputy Ball
was not within close distance to prevent attacks on any
workers and failed to follow “customs to be at
hand.” (Id.) Contra Costa County condoned a
custom and practice “that deputies are suppose[d] to be
near and within helping distances to prevent an attack on
workers (inmates or non-inmates).” (Id.).
federal court must engage in a preliminary screening of any
case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental
entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
See 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
Id. at § 1915A(b).
complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). “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 and internal
quotation marks omitted). Although a complaint “does
not need detailed factual allegations, . . . 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. Pro se complaints must be liberally
construed. See Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342
(9th Cir. 2010).
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. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S.
42, 48 (1988).
pretrial detainee challenges conditions of his confinement,
the proper inquiry is whether the conditions amount to
punishment in violation of the Due Process Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment. See Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S.
520, 535 & n.16 (1979). Jail officials may be liable
under the Fourteenth Amendment for failure to protect a
pretrial detainee from a risk of harm by other inmates. A
deliberate indifference standard applies to
failure-to-protect claims from both pretrial detainees and
prisoners. However, unlike the subjective standard that
applies to prisoner's claim (i.e., the prison 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 that inference, ”
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 US. 825, 837 (1994)), an
objective standard applies to a pretrial detainee's
claim. See Castro v. County of Los Angeles, 833 F.3d
1060, 1069-71 (9th Cir. 2016) (en banc), cert.
denied, 137 S.Ct. 831 (2017). To state a due process
claim for deliberate indifference based on a failure to
protect a pretrial detainee, a plaintiff must allege facts
showing these elements:
(1) The defendant made an intentional decision with respect
to the conditions under which the plaintiff was confined; (2)
Those conditions put the plaintiff at substantial risk of
suffering serious harm; (3) The defendant did not take
reasonable available measures to abate that risk, even though
a reasonable officer in the circumstances would have
appreciated the high degree of risk involved-making the
consequences of the defendant's conduct obvious; and (4)
By not taking such measures, the defendant caused the
Id. at 1071.
complaint fails to state a claim for deliberate indifference
to Mr. Li's safety because it fails to allege facts that
suggest that any Defendant acted with the requisite mental
state of deliberate indifference. First, the sequence of
events is unclear, in that the complaint does not explain
whether the “violent offender” attacked Mr. Li
upon his arrival at the jail (as suggested by the allegations
that Mr. Li was attacked while “working in
intake” and the attacker was “newly
booked”) or after the “violent offender”
had been at the jail for some time and after the
“violent offender” had attacked two other
inmates. If Mr. Li was the first person attacked by the
“violent offender” in the jail, Mr. Li needs to
allege facts showing why reasonable jail officials would have
been aware of the violent nature of the person, or that he
posed a risk to other inmates. Second, Mr. Li fails to allege
facts supporting his conclusion that nurse Dhanoa was aware
of the attacker's violence when she “pull[ed] him
out of single cell safety status, ” nor does Mr. Li
even explain the meaning of the quoted phrase. And Mr. Li