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Gil v. Sanchez

United States District Court, S.D. California

July 6, 2017

RUBEN GIL, Plaintiff,
SANCHEZ, et al., Defendant.


          Hon. Cathy Ann Bencivengo United States District Judge

         On April 5, 2017, Ruben Gil (“Plaintiff”), currently incarcerated at R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility (“RJD”) located in San Diego, California, and proceeding pro se, filed a civil rights complaint (“Compl.”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (ECF No. 1). In the complaint, Plaintiff alleges that his Eighth Amendment rights have been violated because Defendants are sending him cellmates who are associates of “Security threat Groups, ” thus putting Plaintiff's life at “serious risk.” (ECF No. 1 at 3.) On June 29, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion for a preliminary injunction requiring all “defendants to cease their abnormal behavior.” (ECF No. 8 at 3.) Plaintiff further alleges:

This is becoming an unsafe and continuing violation, where I can get harm. I keep receiving cellies who are Security threat Groups associates. [T]his is the fifth cellie I received from R&R who are recruits and associates of the Security threat Groups. I am being tormented by this [sic] individuals every single day, and expose [sic] to get harm. [Doc. No. 8 at 3.]

         While Defendants have not yet responded to the complaint, on June 29, 2017, at the Court's request, Defendants filed a response to the motion for preliminary injunction. [Doc. No. 11.] For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order is DENIED.


         Plaintiff filed a request for a preliminary injunction seeking “prospective injunctive relief” so that Defendants would “cease their abnormal behavior” of assigning him cellmates who are “recruits and associates” of unspecified “security threat groups” because he feels “unsafe.” (ECF 8 at 3.) Plaintiff claims that he has had five such cellmates, that he has been tormented by these cellmates every single day, exposed to harm, and could be irreparably injured. (Id.) Plaintiff seeks an injunction preventing him from being housed with inmates who are recruits or associates of any and all security threat groups (id.), and that the Court appoint “a monitor with authority to observe Defendants['] conduct and thereby permit the federal Court to oversee compliance with its continuing order” (id. at 7). Finally, Plaintiff states that he was attacked recently “at other institutions.” (Id. at 6.) But he does not allege that he was attacked at RJD.

         Upon arrival at an institution, an inmate is screened by a trained custody supervisor for an appropriate housing assignment. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3269(a). The custody supervisor involved in the review and approval of an inmate's housing assignment must evaluate all factors to be considered when completing the initial housing review, including, but not limited to, the inmate's personal factors, length of sentence, enemies and victimization history, criminal influence demonstrated over other inmates, previous housing status, reasons for prior segregation, history of all in-cell assaults and/or violence, security-threat-group affiliation, involvement in race-based incidents, nature of commitment offense, history with prior cellmates, and Rules Violation Reports relating to being found guilty of physical or sexual abuse, sodomy, or other acts of force against a cellmate. Id.

         In response to Plaintiff's motion, Defendants have submitted the declaration of D. Williams, a lieutenant at the facility where Plaintiff has been housed since his arrival at the prison. [Doc. No. 11-1.] In the declaration, D. Williams provides the following information:

Security threat groups involve different inmate classifications related to gangs. (Williams Decl. ¶ 3.)
It is very common for inmates to seek single-cell housing placement so that they do not have to share a cell with another inmate. (Id. ¶ 4.) Inmates are expected to double cell. (Id. ¶ 5.) Thus, RJD cannot accommodate inmates' requests to be single celled unless they meet certain very strict criteria, which is decided by a committee action after evaluating various factors. (Id.)
Under California Code of Regulations title 15, § 3269, inmates are required to accept housing assignments as directed by staff, are expected to double cell, and are not entitled to single cell assignment, housing location of choice, or to a cellmate of their choice.
While housed at a prior prison, Plaintiff was deemed to be an inmate who needed to be housed on a sensitive-needs yard, rather than a general-population yard. (Id. ¶ 7.) Sensitive-needs-yard placement is for inmates who have concerns with programing on a general population yard. (Id. ¶ 8.) Sensitive-needs-yard inmates participate together in large groups for such activities as yard, chow, medical appointments, and pill line. (Id. ¶ 9.) There is constant interaction among inmates on a sensitive needs yard facility. (Id.) Thus, a sensitive-needs-yard inmate cannot reasonably claim that he cannot safely be placed in a cell with any sensitive-needs-yard inmate, but that he can safely be on the same facility with such inmates. (Id.) This indicates that the inmate's goal is to obtain a single cell, rather than any realistic safety concerns. (Id.)
While housed at Kern Valley State Prison, Plaintiff was allegedly the victim of an assault by a cellmate on or about September 30, 2016. (Id. ¶ 10.) As a result, Plaintiff was placed in administrative segregation and subsequently transferred out of that prison on October 12, 2016, due to self-expressed safety concerns. (Id.)
When Plaintiff arrived at RJD on October 13, 2016, a trained custody supervisor reviewed the factors for housing placement for Plaintiff and assigned him to Facility B, which is a sensitive needs yard. (Id. ¶ 11.) Considering that Plaintiff is in close contact with inmates on Facility B during yard, chow, and medical appointments or pill line (if applicable), it is not reasonable for him to claim that he is only in danger when he is in a cell with another inmate. (Id.) It appears that by claiming he cannot cell with any security-threat-group inmate, Plaintiff is trying to eliminate possible cellmates so that he will effectively be single-celled. (Id.) If the Courts ...

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