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Villery v. Beard

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 5, 2017

JARED M. VILLERY, Plaintiff,
JEFFREY BEARD, et al., Defendants



         Plaintiff Jared M. Villery (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302.

         Plaintiff's first amended complaint, filed on June 16, 2016, is currently before the Court for screening. (ECF No. 22.)

         I. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed this action on June 29, 2015. (ECF No. 1.) On July 8, 2015, the then-assigned Magistrate Judge screened Plaintiff's original complaint and found that Plaintiff failed to state a cognizable claim for relief. (ECF No. 7.) Plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration of the screening order. (ECF No. 10.) While that motion was pending, the then-assigned Magistrate Judge retired from the bench, and the undersigned was assigned to this matter.

         On September 2, 2015, the then-assigned District Judge granted Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration in part. The Court's July 8, 2015 screening order and certain other proceedings were vacated, and the matter was referred to the undersigned for further proceedings. Shortly thereafter, the currently-assigned District Judge was appointed, and this matter was re-assigned to him. (ECF No. 12.)

         Following the resolution of several motions, on April 8, 2016, the Court issued a screening order finding certain claims in Plaintiff's original complaint cognizable, and ordering Plaintiff to either file an amended complaint, or notify the Court of his willingness to proceed only on the cognizable claims. (ECF No. 19). Plaintiff then moved for an extension of time to amend his complaint (ECF No. 20), which was granted, (ECF No. 21.)

         Plaintiff's first amended complaint is now before the court.

         II. Screening Requirement

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity and/or against an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Plaintiff's complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks 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)(ii).

         A 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)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)). While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, courts “are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences.” Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). To survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. United States Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         III. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff is currently housed at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (“CSATF”) in Corcoran, California. However, the alleged events took place at California State Prison-Los Angeles County (“LAC”) in Lancaster, California; the California Correctional Institution (“CCI”) in Tehachapi, California[1]; and at CSATF.

         Plaintiff names as defendants former CDCR secretary Jeffery Beard and current secretary of CDCR Scott Kernan.

         Plaintiff further names as defendants the following individuals employed at LAC: Senior Psychologist Dr. Richard Kendall, and Staff Psychologist Dr. K. Acosta.

         Plaintiff also names as defendants the following individuals employed at CCI: Facility Captain Jay Jones; Psychiatrist Dr. Majid Naficy; Correctional Counselor II. Alicia Guerrero; Psychologist Dr. A. Aithal; Psychologist Dr. Jennifer Seymour; Clinical Social Worker A. Carrizales; and Correctional Counselor I J. Woodard.

         Finally, Plaintiff names as defendants the following individuals employed at CSATF: Captain M. Pallares; Correctional Counselor II Michael Fisher; Correctional Counselor I S. Hernandez; Correctional Counselor I A. Miranda; and Psychologist Dr. A. Grimmig.

         Background Allegations

         Plaintiff is an individual of mixed race heritage, with an African American father and a Caucasian mother. However, Plaintiff's heritage is not readily apparent from his appearance, as he appears to be only white. For their own safety, inmates are forced to only associate with inmates of their own race. Upon incarceration Plaintiff associated with black inmates due to the fact that white inmates will not associate with inmates of mixed race. CDCR classified Plaintiff as white. This classification; the extremely violent nature of the general population; Plaintiff's appearance; and Plaintiff's association with black inmates all lead to a high exposure to excessive levels of violence during the first four years of his incarceration.

         Plaintiff was placed in custody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility (“TTCF”) in Los, Angeles, California, until July 19, 2005. On September 25, 2005 Plaintiff was transferred to Kern Valley State Prison (“KVSP”). At both institutions Plaintiff suffered through numerous fights, assaults, and riots. Plaintiff also witnessed several acts of violence include stabbings, at least one murder, and the results of numerous suicides. Plaintiff alleges that broken bones and bloodshed were common spectacles.

         Plaintiff stayed at KVSP until August 3, 2007, when two white inmates attempted to kill him. Plaintiff was attacked with an inmate manufactured knife, stabbed once in the back a quarter of an inch to the left of his spine, and repeatedly punched and kicked in the head and torso by these inmates. After this incident Plaintiff was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”). Due to the symptoms of this disorder, Plaintiff was housed alone in a cell for over seven months for his safety and the safety of other inmates. During this time he stayed in Administrative Segregation (“Ad Seg.”), and Plaintiff was reclassified into the Sensitive Needs Program (“SNY”) because his racial classification prevented him from safely remaining in the general population.

         Plaintiff continues to suffer from PTSD. Due to this disorder he suffers with symptoms such as hypervigilance to sudden movements around him and other stimuli that often trigger flashbacks and violent defensive reactions. Plaintiff also suffers from frequent nightmares about being attacked, and other incidents of violence he has witnessed and experienced. The most dangerous trigger of Plaintiff's PTSD is being forced to live with and attempt to sleep around other inmates. These conditions leave it virtually impossible for Plaintiff to sleep, and Plaintiff has suffered for years with minimal sleep due to his symptoms. These conditions have forced Plaintiff to adopt abnormal sleep patterns, where he is only able to sleep fully when his cellmate is not in the cell with him. The longer Plaintiff goes without sleep, the worse his reactions get.

         Despite the affect this lack of sleep has had on Plaintiff's condition over the last eight years, custody and mental health staff has repeatedly refused to take any steps to house Plaintiff in single cell occupancy. Plaintiff was released into the SNY program on March 6, 2008, and was involved in two unreported cell fights within the week. On March 15, 2008, he was moved to a new cell where he remained until October 8, 2009. During this time Plaintiff's reactions led to multiple altercations between him and his cellmate. On October 8, 2009 he was transferred to LAC.


         Over the course of two years Plaintiff went through a pattern of being housed with other inmates until conflict arose, and then he was moved into a single cell for a period of no more than a few months until being placed with another cellmate. During this time Plaintiff met with defendant Acosta, a psychologist, on three different occasions on August 2, 2013; August 13, 2013; and August 30, 2013. During these meetings Plaintiff stressed his anxiety and the violent reactions he'd had toward former cellmates. Plaintiff explained the way in which these reactions made him fear that he would injure himself or someone else. However, Acosta refused to recommend single celled housing.

         On September 25, 2013, Acosta informed Plaintiff that defendant Kendall, the senior psychologist at the time at LAC, had forwarded an e-mail to all mental health staff at LAC instructing them to refrain from making any single cell housing recommendations. Acosta stated that this policy was being dictated by custody staff, and that CDCR was putting pressure on mental health staff due to overcrowding.

         On October 3, 2013, when Plaintiff was forced to move in with another inmate, he was involved in a confrontation with his new cellmate when the cellmate walked into the cell behind Plaintiff without forewarning. Plaintiff advanced on the man, but the inmate hastily exited the cell and refused to return. Plaintiff then met with Acosta for the final time, pleading for help to obtain single cell housing, but she again refused. ...

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